It’s no secret that we’re kind of obsessed with sexual wellness. But there’s a lot more to the conversation than just contraception, consent and protection from STIs. One key element of sexual wellness often gets overlooked: pleasure.
Doctor and sexual advocate Tlaleng Mofokeng explained in a recent Quartz article, we need to reframe that perception and recognize that all participants in sex are equally entitled to experience—and seek—pleasure.
Mofokeng stresses the importance of owning your right to pleasure, speaking up about what feels good while also considering your sexual health. Put simply, it empowers individuals to express what they do and don’t want—which is particularly important when it comes to matters of consent and contraception. While Mofokeng’s focus is on women, the lesson is the same for us all: Regardless of gender identity or sexual preference, everyone has a right to pleasure (and its benefits). Outlined here are some of the add-ons that come with the big-O.
Pleasure is good for your skinThe endorphins that release during orgasm help to relieve stress, which can help reduce inflammation in the skin and make you look more rested. In fact, some dermatologists say they can tell how often someone has sex just by the way their skin glows.
Orgasms help you get better sleep
Another benefit of orgasms? They help you sleep better, which is one of the best things you can do to promote your own health practices. While having sex, the body also releases tons of endorphins (the feel-good chemicals that serve as a natural painkiller) that act to reduce anxiety, help with sleeping issues, and boost our blood circulation—more than enough reasons to get busy!
Intimacy can reduce stressIn general, having an orgasm has been proven to significantly reduce stress in the body. It also assists with deeper relaxation by boosting our endorphin levels and working to flush out cortisol. Go ahead… you know you want to!
Sex, like exercise, increases overall health and longevity
Of course, there are benefits to even mild exercise. A study published in 2016 observing the health and sexual activity of older adults showed that in older women, moderate sexual activity correlates with reduced risk of cardiovascular issues (for older men, however, having sex more than once a week can result in an increased risk of these problems). There is evidence of pure health benefits for men, though: One extensive 1997 study showed that the mortality rate for men with a high orgasm frequency (reporting three or more weekly) was 50% lower than it was who reported low or no frequency.