Why do we need sex?

Sex is a basic human need and is important for emotional well-being. On a physical level, having good, healthy sex is beneficial for your health. It helps you have:

Part of these positive effects happen because your body releases hormones like oxytocin during sex, which boost your mood and make you feel great.

That said, studies show us that it’s not necessarily the act of sex by itself that is so beneficial. In fact, sex through masturbation doesn’t give you as high of a hormone release as sex with your partner.

You’ll still get some benefits either way, but sex in a loving relationship causes greater physical and emotional benefits.

How does sex make a relationship stronger?

Safe sex in loving relationships leads to greater happiness and well-being for individuals and couples. It’s not just sex that is important, though. Instead, it’s the affection that sex brings to your relationship.

In several large studies, researchers have found that regular kissing, hugging, and touching between you and your partner make stronger relationships. It promotes intimacy, which is the feeling of closeness and connectedness that helps build trust and safety.

Cuddling and affection can even have physical benefits. Your body will release those feel-good hormones even when you don’t have an orgasm. Simple things like sex talk and kissing can give you a hormone boost.

Moreover, while sex helps build closeness, affection also leads to healthy sex. It’s a two-way street that leads to positive emotions. When you’re having sex and engaging in sexual activities, you’re likely to feel happier and more satisfied in your relationship. Your relationship is consequently likely to be stronger. At the same time, when you feel close to your partner, you’re also more likely to have sex.

Women tend to need emotional connection and closeness to be in the mood, but both men and women need intimacy in general. Higher amounts of intimacy are linked to higher sexual desire and more sex for both male and female partners in long-term relationships.

How much sex should a couple have?

Lots of people assume that more sex means better relationships, and that’s true, but only up to a point. Studies have found that partners who have sex once a week are happier and have more satisfied relationships than those who only have sex once a month. Having more than that, though, isn’t always better.

Quality of sex also matters. A 2016 study talked to different groups of partners who had satisfying sex once or twice a week versus those who had terrible sex once or twice a week. The people who were having a lot of great sex had were doing better.

These respondents:

  • Were more in sync with each other
  • Had a greater sense of love
  • Had a greater sense of affection
  • Displayed more variety in sex activities

Is it okay to have sex every day?

So, the billion-dollar question: 365 nights of sex—can it strengthen a marriage, and is it healthy? If you consent to daily sex and you enjoy it, you can have sex every day. The research shows that more than once a week doesn’t necessarily make your relationship better, though.

Research also shows that lots of sex when you’re single isn’t always better, either. This is probably because close relationships are a key to happiness apart from sex and because sex when you’re single is more complicated.

QUESTION

Which chemical is known simply as the "hormone of love?" See Answer

Can sex revive your relationship?

There are many factors to healthy and satisfying relationships, including respect and good communication. Sometimes, you might feel distant or disconnected from your partner, like you've grown apart.

If so, you’re not alone. Many people have this experience, and it can be caused by different things, including:

  • Having babies or small children, which leads to less private time, as well as exhaustion
  • Working long hours and having less time together
  • A longer relationship where the newness has worn off
  • Poor communication

A dip in your relationship can lead to less sex, but lots of people also stop having sex without having a relationship breakdown.

Sex is important even so, and it can bolster your partnership and your sense of well-being, though it’s not a cure for problems. The key is affection.

Studies show that as long as you keep love alive and active in your relationship, you can balance out the effects of not having sex. These studies also show that if you have a lull in your sex life, turning up your affection can bring your sex life back.

Outlook

Sex matters in your relationship, but quality, love, affection, and communications are more important than the amount of sex.

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Medically Reviewed on 11/9/2021
References
JOHNS HOPKINS MEDICINE: "Keep the Spark Alive in Your Marriage."

Journal of Social and Personal Relationships: "The associations of intimacy and sexuality in daily life."

Oregon Health & Science University Center for Women's Health: "The Benefits of a Healthy Sex Life."

University of Alabama: "Healthy vs. Unhealthy Relationships."

University of California Berkley - The Greater Good Science Center: "Are You Having Enough Sex?" "Why Sex Is So Good for Your Relationship."

University of Florida: "Will Having More Sex Improve Your Relationship?"