Orgasms don’t just feel good – they are good for you! Here are some of the many ways orgasm can contribute to good health and well-being for women. Making sexual pleasure part of your self-care routine could pay off in many ways.
When it comes to sexual pleasure, no two women are alike. For some women, sexual pleasure is as necessary as food or sleep. Other women may go a long time without experiencing sexual pleasure and not miss it at all. If you identify more with women who don’t miss it, then you might want to consider that the female orgasm has many mental and physical health benefits. Let’s explore why it’s important to make sexual play more of a priority in your life.
Physical Benefits of Orgasms
Experiencing sexual pleasure can make you feel more alive in other parts of your life. While many people think of orgasm as the ultimate goal of sexual play, there are many other ways to experience pleasure without an orgasm and all of them can lift your mood and put a spring in your step! For women who are not able to climax or have difficulty getting there, other types of sensual pleasure such as kissing, massage, or sex that does not result in orgasm also release endorphins and are similarly beneficial to your health. This article, however, focuses on the health benefits from orgasm specifically.
To start, being open to sexual pleasure requires some measure of letting go. While many men turn to sex as a way to relieve tension, many women find that being tense makes it difficult to get in the mood. It’s hard to be in the moment and achieve orgasm when your brain is running through your daily to-do list! So some measure of relaxation is required before you even begin.
Beyond relaxation, the physical benefits of orgasms extend to virtually all parts of the body. Endorphins activated by orgasms can relieve pain. Sexual activity has been found to stimulate oxytocin, which reduces cortisol, the “stress hormone”, helping you feel more relaxed and sleepier, especially if it occurs right before you go to bed. Improved sleep can be a game-changer in all areas of your life, especially if you experience sleep difficulties (those of you in perimenopause will definitely understand this). It can also boost your body’s natural infection-fighting skills with the release of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which promotes bone health and helps repair tissue. Some research has also found that sexually active women have greater changes in infection-fighting cells that help activate your body to fight off invaders that cause illness and disease.
As you might expect, orgasms have many positive effects in your pelvic region. For instance, the resulting increased blood flow and boost of oxytocin (the body’s natural pain-reliever), can provide some relief from menstrual cramps. Additionally, some believe (although evidence is sparse) that having an orgasm during intercourse can also improve your chances of getting pregnant.
Orgasms also help to decrease your chances of succumbing to a urinary tract infection. Orgasms tone the pelvic floor muscles, improving core strength that could potentially help reduce urinary incontinence.
Because libido increases vaginal lubrication and results in increased blood flow to the area, it can support and improve the health of the whole vulva region. It can also increase elasticity and counter some of the uncomfortable symptoms of menopause such as vaginal dryness. For post-menopausal women, the increased pelvic blood flow generated by consistent orgasms can also reduce the incidence of vaginal atrophy.
Did you know that sex actually counts as exercise? It’s true! Regular exercise can improve your heart (cardiovascular) health by lowering your blood pressure and reducing your risk of hypertension and heart attack. Fun fact: oxytocin can also play an important role in keeping osteoporosis at bay!
Can orgasms make you more attractive? Pleasure makes people smile more and feel more vital, which makes them look, act, and feel younger. Your body is better able to maintain and repair tissue, and your skin may glow more and breakout less. There is science behind this: estrogen released during orgasms can prevent age-related decreases in collagen, aiding in prevention of wrinkles and aging skin, making it look more supple. Estrogen also helps lock in the skin’s moisture, keeping it hydrated and plump.
Mental Health and Emotional Well-Being Benefits of Orgasms
Science supports the idea that frequent sex and affection makes people happy. Orgasms are free, they are virtually unlimited in supply, and you don’t need anyone else to have them. And the benefits don’t stop there! There are also many mental health benefits to orgasms, countering conditions such as insomnia, fatigue, depression, anger, and anxiety.
Orgasms improve blood flow to the brain and raise DHEA levels (remember the chemical that promotes bone health and tissue repair?), improving brain function and memory. It is also associated with better cognition and potentially less dementia as you age.
Orgasms flood your body with the neurotransmitter dopamine, which floods your body with pleasure. Additionally, release of the previously mentioned oxytocin, aka the “cuddle hormone," which increases feelings of bonding and satisfaction that reach beyond your partner and into your social circle, fostering better relationships more broadly. This dopamine hit helps reduce stress and is an antidote to depression and anxiety.
Taking charge of your sexuality is liberating and empowering. Women who can seek and receive sexual pleasure are less likely to feel shame or guilt associated with cultural, religious, and childhood values. They are also less likely to have negative feelings associated with their own body’s shape, smell, taste, and are more confidence and self-assured in all areas of their lives.
Reviewed by Sonia Wright, MD, The Midlife Sex Coach and member of The Body Agency’s Body Board