How Important is Sex in a Healthy Relationship?
A recurring theme in TV, movies and music is romantic partners and their lack of or relatively abundant sex life. There are entire genres and series committed to it! But is there an amount of sex that anyone should be having, especially in the context of long term relationships or a married couple?
That’s what we’re planning to discuss today: sexual intimacy, just how much is enough and the nuance in how that can look from person to person. We’ll break it down from the biological, psychological and lifestyle benefits of sex to the practical concerns of family planning, managing sex drive and sexual dysfunction. Let’s dive in!
The Benefits of Sex
Apart from its potential to be really pleasurable and enjoyable, there are some measurable benefits to a more active sexual life. They range from some more scientific biological impacts, to surprising mental health benefits to sexual health and well-being. Here is a list of some of the highlights:
- Physical Fitness: Depending how strenuous and active your sexual life is, regular sexual experiences can improve your visual physique and your physical health. And as an added perk, as you feel healthier and more desirable, you may just have more sex.
- Cardiovascular Health: As it turns out, regular sexual activity is a good way to get regular daily activity and keep your heart beating! This can result in positive outcomes like lower blood pressure, lower heart rate, lowered risk of heart attack, heart disease and stroke and generally stronger heart health.
- Immune Health: Sexual activity has been tied to increased immune health in recent studies, with greater levels of immunoglobulins (antibodies). This correlation is still being explored further by sexologists and researchers, but it certainly doesn’t seem to hurt.
- Sleep Health: Based on some of the hormones released during sexual activity (including oxytocin, prolactin and endorphins), your sleep cycle may actually improve with increased sexual activity.
- Mental and Emotional Health: Sexual intimacy and expression between partners can increase connection and comfort, and even individually sexual activity can decrease stress, improve mood or emotional outlook, confidence and self-esteem. Think of it as your body rewarding you for pleasure seeking behavior by flooding your receptors with a cocktail of feel-good hormones.
- Additional Benefits: Other benefits of regular sexual activity include increased libido, prostate health and sperm strength for men, slight relief for menstruation-related cramping, maintained vaginal lubrication, better pelvic strength which helps with everything from bladder control to avoiding muscle loss and prolapse.
We have an entire blog post dedicated to the health benefit of sex if you want the full comprehensive list!
The Realities of Sex in a Partnership
It would be a bit misleading to talk about all the benefits of sex either individually or with others without acknowledging some of the very real challenges and hurdles that some partners and individuals face in their sexual lives.
- Managing Marriage and Family: An important reality to talk about is that no partnership or sexual life exists within a vacuum. Most romantic partners or married couples are managing everything from larger family dynamics, finances, household maintenance, family planning and many other day-to-day hurdles. These things may have a direct impact on your sexual life. For example, if you and your partner(s) have different religious identities or cultural beliefs, you may find yourselves at odds about contraception and birth control Or, if you have an elderly family member move in and you don’t have as much privacy or time as before to dedicate to your sexual experiences. What if one of your partner(s) wants a different structure to the relationship, or there is strain on the relationship? That might impact how frequent sexual encounters are. These are just a few examples, but it’s worth noting that your sexual life is often tied to how things are going in other arenas of your life.
- Changing Sexual Desires: In the course of your lifetime, it is possible that you or one of your partner(s) will experience a change in their sexual desires. This may take the form of a decrease in libido, a change in desired activities, a loss of confidence. It really could be anything. And despite what many pop culture examples might suggest, it may not be divided as stereotypically along gender lines – that is to say for example that sex may be more important to a woman in a relationship than it is for a man in a relationship. If you find that you or your partner(s) are undergoing a shift in your sexual desires, it may be worth having a conversation about what they’re feeling and perhaps what they want to be doing sexually. We have some resources on how to start and maintain a sex positive conversation, as well as a fun exercises to agree on sexual yes, no and maybes. You can also book a sex therapy appointment to discuss with a professional and get more of a guided experience. These things often work themselves out through communication, compromise and exploration on your own terms.
- Experiencing Sexual Dysfunction: Millions across the country will experience sexual dysfunction in their lifetime. This could be something relatively common like erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness with the onset of age and biological changes, or it could be something more obscure and unique to you or your partner. Whatever it is, there are sexual health experts and medical professionals out there who are fully capable of working with you and/or your partner(s) to help improve your sexual health. You may also be able to make lifestyle changes based on demonstrated ways to improve your sexual health. We put together a list of highlights here. If sexual dysfunction is the barrier between you and/or your partner(s) experiencing the sexual life you desire, you have plenty of resources to tackle any issue head on and find pleasure.
Don’t fear though, while there are some challenges you may encounter throughout the lifelong journey that is your sex life with or without a partner, you are not alone and there are many resources available to achieve your ideal!
What If Sex Isn’t For You
This is absolutely a valid feeling! Many people worldwide do not incorporate regular sexual activity into their life. And that looks different for each and every individual and romantic partnership. If you’re curious about whether this is a lifestyle that would suit you, a good question to ask yourself is “what does sex feel like to me?” If you find that the answer doesn’t seem positive, healthy or worthwhile, you can always think about making a change to how often you’re having sex by yourself or with your partners. Your sexual life is a lifelong journey and your sexual interest can ebb and flow over time.
Ok, so that was a bit of a trick question – there is no right amount of sex to be having in a healthy relationship. The bottom line is that no matter what your sexual life looks like with your partner(s), it should work for you! And ONE® Condoms is here to help you bring your most important sexual desires to life, whether that’s our vast array of condom styles, our premium lube options or information on sexual health and pleasure. Keep calm, and sex on (or don’t)!