The thousand and one benefits of sex

Human beings are animals with quite curious behaviors. We do things like eat without hunger or sleep without sleep, and other times we dedicate our lives to matters that, in perspective, may not make much sense, at least not to those who observe us from the outside as happened with the Samoan chief Tuiavii de Tiavea, that he was incapable of understanding the lifestyle of the “papalagi” (Europeans) when he visited his continent from his island paradise at the beginning of the last century.

Sex can help us relax, feel safe and comfortable, relieve anxiety and tension accumulated in our body, contribute naturally to help us fall asleep, and allow our brain to release hormones.

Often the fault is ours, that we do not know very well why we do things, or we think that we do it for one reason when in fact we do it for another. Too often we are opaque to ourselves. Eating greedily and not out of hunger, for example, could be one of these customs. We may believe that the only reasonable reason to eat food is to satisfy hunger, but it does not have to be that way, or perhaps it is that there is more than one type of hunger. In English there is an expression “comfort food”, which we could translate as “comfort food”, for the food we eat not because of hunger but to calm down, more to put out a fire than to satisfy a void.

It may sound absurd, but it’s scientifically proven that the intake, especially of certain specific foods (such as foods rich in sucrose) reduces the response, whether neuroendocrine, cardiovascular or behavioral, of our body to stress. And studies suggest that “the palatable or rewarding properties of sucrose are capable, and sometimes necessary, to relieve stress.” Natural rewards like food cravings can work as a stress reliever, though they may not be as beneficial for maintaining our figure.

Food, of course, is not the only natural remedy that can offer us a reward that has such a beneficial influence on our anguish. The other great natural remedy against stress is, of course, sexual activity.

Stress, which we all suffer together in times like the ones we are living through, although not to the same degree and not all in the same way, usually evokes both physiological and emotional responses. Physiological responses include activation of the sympathetic nervous system with numerous effects on our well-being and health, including increased heart rate and blood pressure; elevations in circulating adrenocorticotropic hormone (ACTH) and glucocorticoids such as cortisol. The glucocorticoids they affect numerous physiological processes, such as our stored amount of energy or the maintenance of vascular tone.

Among the emotional responses that stress is capable of provoking are fear, anxiety and behavioral changes; physiological and emotional states designed to optimize our survival in the face of real or perceived adversity.

Sex helps us to cushion its effects, which, although they make biological sense, can be very problematic and unpleasant.

Of course, if sex can be complicated in the best of times, in the midst of a pandemic it will be even more so; mandatory social distancing, the use of masks, the constant washing of hands, do not make it easy to coordinate acts of intimacy and now have their own set of new rules.

And yet, our sexual activity remains vitally important to our health. Sex is not only a great physical exercise, but when it is safe and consensual, it can help us relax, feel safe and comforted, relieve anxiety and accumulated tension in our body, contribute naturally to help us sleep, and to allow our brain to release hormones such as endorphins (the body’s natural stimulants) and oxytocin (the hormone of love), as claimed by Shannon Chavez, a sex therapist based in Beverly Hills, California.

And Dr. Chavez is not the only one, also Dr. Michael Gurian, a marriage and family counselor, recommends in Psychology Today that quarantined couples have as much sex as possible, because sex produces the same chemical that “brings people together”. long-term and short-term couples.

According to Chavez, oxytocin is “that chemical that makes us seek hugs even after sex,” adding that the rush of hormones it causes can also help establish a bond that triggers feelings of security.

“Any physical connection, especially a 20-second hug or a 10-second long kiss, can also release those same feel-good chemicals.” And in these stressful and uncertain times, we can all benefit from these kinds of experiences.

And of course, some will be thinking: “Sex?! Are you joking? My partner is driving me crazy!” and they would not be alone. Even couples in strong, healthy relationships are feeling the pressure during this period, confined together 24/7. While others will suffer for different reasons, because they feel the weight of distance, of being forced to live apart for health or quarantine reasons.

Where does that leave us? How can we do to relieve our stress naturally in these circumstances? Well, based on what we currently know about COVID-19 and its form of transmission, and although the answer varies depending on the situation of each one, in general terms the safest way to reap the benefits that the activity brings us sexual, right now, is alone or at a distance.

Solo sex (blessed masturbation) can get us, if not the same, at least a similar and much safer satisfying effect. And thanks to technology today we have all kinds of remote options such as video chats, sexting, etc. for when we have tired of our own repertoire.

Another option, also safe, is sex with someone you already live with, as long as that person also takes steps to reduce their potential exposure to the disease and is serious about social distancing, hand washing, using mask in public spaces, etc.

As always, this is easier said than done, and the statistics show it: Although almost 25% of married couples spend more than 35 hours a week together, only 29% report satisfaction with the amount of quality time they get. they spend with their partner (which is not so bad either because before it was even worse, with 23% before the Coronavirus).

The most common sources of conflict in couples right now are, precisely, the frequency of sexual intercourse, purchasing decisions and their effect on the family economy, and the time spent on the phone (yes, who knows if doing sexting).

The best natural method of relief for your stress has always been within reach (perhaps literally) at your fingertips, so don’t be Papalagi. Remember Tuiavii’s words to his people:“It is a sign of great poverty that someone needs many things, because in this way he shows that he lacks the things that the Great Spirit gives us. Very little else is needed apart from what he has given us.”

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The thousand and one benefits of sex

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