48 Reasons Why People Have Sex

Medically Reviewed on 1/27/2023
There are various reasons to have sex
There are various reasons to have sex

Since ancient times, the reasons people have sex have been assumed to be few and simple.

  1. To reproduce
  2. To experience pleasure
  3. To relieve sexual tension

However, several proposed theories suggest reasons to perform the carnal act may be more significant in number and psychologically complex. A study involved collecting data from 203 men and 241 women citing the reasons for having sex. The volunteers ranged in the age group of 17 years to 52 years.

It is interesting to see the wide range of reasons that individuals may have for engaging in sexual activity. 237 reasons would be quite a diverse set and it would be hard to generalize them. Some of the reasons that have been identified by research and studies include physical pleasure, emotional intimacy, stress relief, and relationship-building. Other reasons that have been reported include self-exploration, experimentation, and feeling desired or attractive. It's also possible that some of the reasons identified by this study may be unique to the specific individuals and their situations.

Four categories for the reasons of sexual activity

A study involved collecting data from 203 men and 241 women citing the reasons for having sex. There are 237 reasons why people engage in sexual activity, and different individuals may have different motivations for doing so. However, the four common reasons for having sex include:

Physical reasons: 

  • Stress reduction
  • Pleasure
  • Physical desirability
  • Experience seeking

Goal attainment:

  • Resources (e.g., to get a job in return)
  • Social status (e.g., to brag to their friends about their conquests)
  • Revenge (e.g., to take revenge on a cheating partner)
  • Utilitarian (e.g., to improve sexual skills)

Emotional reasons:

  • Love
  • Commitment
  • Expression


  • Self-esteem boost
  • Duty/pressure
  • Mate guarding (Use of tactics to prevent one’s mate from seeking other mates)

Next, the same list of 237 reasons was given to 1,549 students of psychology, and they were asked to rate how frequently they had sex for those reasons. From this, a list was derived to find out the leading reasons.

Given below are usually the top 30 reasons why people have sex:

  1. Being attracted to the person
  2. To experience physical pleasure
  3. To feel good
  4. To show affection to the person
  5. To express love for the person
  6. To release the sexual arousal
  7. To have fun
  8. The realization of love
  9. To achieve an orgasm
  10. The heat of the moment
  11. To please the partner
  12. Turned on by the person’s physical appearance
  13. The desire for emotional closeness (i.e., intimacy)
  14. Pure pleasure
  15. Excitement and adventure
  16. The curiosity of the act
  17. To feel connected to the person
  18. Because of the romantic setting
  19. The attractive face of the person
  20. To keep the partner satisfied
  21. Because the person was a good kisser
  22. A mere opportunity
  23. To intensify one’s relationship
  24. To try out new sexual techniques or positions
  25. To feel loved
  26. Inability to resist the person’s sexiness
  27. To celebrate a birthday, anniversary, or other special occasions
  28. To explore one’s sexual abilities
  29. To improve one’s sexual skills

Some infrequent reasons for having sex include:

  1. To give someone else a sexually transmitted disease (e.g., herpes, AIDS)
  2. To get drugs in return
  3. To earn money in return
  4. To get a raise or promotion
  5. To punish oneself
  6. As an initiation rite to join a club or organization 
  7. To break up one’s relationship
  8. To get a job
  9. Afraid to say ‘‘no’’ due to the possibility of physical harm
  10. To hurt/humiliate the person
  11. To feel closer to God
  12. To get the feeling of being used or degraded
  13. Because of a bet
  14. To gain access to that person’s friend
  15. To break up a rival’s relationship by having sex with his/her partner
  16. To get back at one’s unfaithful partner
  17. Fear of damage to one’s reputation after saying ‘‘no’’
  18. Feeling sorry for the person
  19. To become popular

It has been observed that the general reason men have sex is often centered more on physical pleasures, while in women, sex is centered more on emotions. However, in recent times are seeing more women than earlier who have sex for physical pleasures and more men who are likely to do it for emotional reasons.

The reason for having sex differs from individual to individual and even between the two genders. While some reasons can be considered ‘okay,’ others are dangerous. For example, reasons like ‘to break another’s relationship’ is serious. Other reasons like ‘to give someone else an STD, such as herpes or AIDS’ can destroy existing relationships, spread the disease further, and thus, impact many lives.


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What are the health benefits of having sex?

There are potential 10 health benefits associated with sexual activity.  The following lists 10 benefits of having sex:

  • Improved libido: Regular sexual activity can help to maintain sexual function and improve sexual response.
  • Improved bladder control in women
  • Improved immune system: Sexually active people have higher levels of antibodies called immunoglobulin A (IgA), which can help to protect against colds and other infections.
  • Counts as a workout
  • Lowered blood pressure
  • Lowered heart attack risk: Sexual activity may help to improve cardiovascular health by increasing blood flow and reducing the risk of heart disease.
  • Reduced prostate cancer risk
  • Improved sleep: Orgasms can release hormones that promote restful sleep
  • Lower pain levels: Sexual activity can release endorphins, which can help to alleviate pain.
  • Stress relief: It reduces stress and improves overall emotional well-being.
  • Improved self-esteem and better mental health: Sexual activity can help to improve self-esteem and body image.

It's important to note that these benefits are associated with consensual, safe, and healthy sexual activity. And also it's always good to consult with a healthcare professional for any specific concern.

Medically Reviewed on 1/27/2023
Meston CM, Buss DM. Why humans have sex. Arch Sex Behav. 2007;36(4):477-507. doi:10.1007/s10508-007-9175-2

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Sex. Available at: https://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/guide/sex-and-health#3