Sex: It’s All Well & Good

Sex: It’s All Well & Good

Today we’re talking about sex and how it influences wellness. Let’s face it, when it comes to Brits we don’t really like talking about what we do between the sheets. It’s something we do, not something we discuss.

There’s a difference between sexual health and sexual wellness. The former refers to function, fertility and diseases. The latter refers to… basically everything else. It’s the fun one, and it’s the one we’re looking at today.

How Often?

Everyone’s different. That said, one longitudinal study of 30,000 people over 40 years discovered that once per week was the optimal “standard for happiness.” Those who had sex less than that reported feeling less fulfilled, but interestingly those who had more sex reported no additional happiness.

2022 data suggests that over half of UK adults have sex less frequently than once a month, which is far lower than I would have said before diving into the research.

Interestingly, a 2019 study concluded that Britain’s decline in sexual frequency has been “driven by a reduction among the sexually active, as opposed to an increase in [those] who have never had sex.”

But why?

The reasons for this are stridently individual, but some experts point towards the rise of social media (distraction), higher inclination to watch porn (self-satisfaction) and increased general stress levels.

Psychologically, stress can interfere with our sexual performance through emotional and cognitive changes that distract us from fully embracing sexual cues. Chronic stressors, whether daily frustrations or major life events, increase what’s called our allostatic load. This refers to our body’s response to the accumulation of stressors. When our allostatic load increases, our systems need to change and adapt to maintain stability as we tax ourselves with worry.

Use It Or Lose It

But what if you just… don’t fancy it? Along with stress, the main culprits for low libido are tiredness, poor nutrition and lack of exercise. But it goes deeper.

One of the main things that comes up time and time again is self-esteem. 36% of 2000+ Brits surveyed said that their lack of body confidence made them feel too anxious or stressed for sex. If you’re not feeling yourself, you’re not likely to think others are going to want to… feel you. Plus, higher anxiety increases our cortisol levels, something that’sbeen shown to negatively impact sexual libido. Inadequate intake of certain nutrients can decrease libido – most notably zinc, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and iron.

As a grown adult, you likely know already of the endorphins release that sex provides us. Dopamine, norepinephrine, oxytocin and serotonin are all released during sex which can make us feel alert, motivated, and satisfied. Who doesn’t like feeling good? 

After all, more sex leads to a lower chance of heart attacks, a reduction in the amount of pain we feel and an increase in our immune system response. We could go on.

Don’t Let ‘Em Hear You

Canadians are kind of like us, we reckon you’ll agree. Consumer research of 1,000 women from the country found that they were 500% more likely to feel uncomfortable discussing sexual wellness compared to physical wellness, even with a close friend.

We can only assume this squeamishness around the topic holds the same for men – maybe worse. If you’re in a relationship and aren’t discussing sex in some form, you’re leaving all kinds of joy out of the equation. It’s actually kind of weirder not to talk about it, given what you’re doing with one another.

The Spice Of Life

Citing another longitudinal study, this time a French one, findings suggest that the way we associate sex with our wellness has changed in recent decades. From the ‘70s to ‘06, the proportion of “people reporting that sex was considered essential to feel good about oneself increased from 48% to 60% for women and from 55% to 69% for men.”

We’re tiptoeing towards a more honest conversation when it comes to the importance sex holds for us in our lives, but we’re having sex less frequently.  If your sex life isn’t on your wellness radar, we’d urge you to reconsider.

Nearly Finished

Around ⅔ of respondents to a recent survey agreed their quality of life would improve if their sex lives improved. It’s something that’s front and centre for some peoples’ wellness. For others, it’s something to be locked away and discussed as little as possible.

Sexual wellness is a crucial component, for most, to feel good in life. Play around with your diet, sleep schedule and training regime, sure. Play a little elsewhere, too. For your own good.

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