Sex, when shared with someone you trust and are attracted to, is usually good fun. Right?

Yes, there are exceptions, but an orgasm is generally considered a positive experience. To borrow a line from the 1979 film Manhattan, “I never had the wrong kind… My worst one was right on the money”.

But can an orgasm also be good for your health? According to recent studies, yes it can. The happiness you experience comes from a release of pleasure chemicals like oxytocin, serotonin and dopamine, which have positive side effects for your mind and body.

As well as being connected to pleasure and happiness, oxytocin can also promote social attachment, lowering our defences and increasing trust [1]. This explains why two people can feel so comfortable and relaxed with each other after the fact.

The body recognises these chemical releases as being pleasant and comfortable, which might explain why we can sometimes feel very close to someone quite quickly, and why it can be so painful to end a short term relationship.

A recent study at Princeton University has shown that, while it’s making us happy, sex can also promote the growth of new brain cells and reduce stress [2]. Keeping your brain active in this way can even protect against dementia in later life.

For women in particular, orgasms and happiness are closely entwined. Brain scans have shown that women are more likely to orgasm when they feel relaxed and calm. During sex, as a woman approaches orgasm, the parts of her brain that create fear and anxiety start to shut down – so, good sex really can unwind your mind.

All these chemicals create a sense of relaxation and bliss, which can alleviate feelings of sadness and depression, promote relaxation, and give you a sense of togetherness. And, if that’s not enough, you’ll probably also sleep better.

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