What Are the Psychological Benefits of an Orgasm?

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Humans are biologically designed to seek out pleasure, but in our current world that can be surprisingly easy to forget about. We get wrapped up in our careers, our families, and daily stressors, and too often we don't even think about how healthy it would be to pause and take the time to do something enjoyable.

Sex and masturbation are acts that we think about in terms of increasing our physical happiness, but they actually have psychological benefits, too, especially when you orgasm.

Ahead, we'll explore the psychological benefits of having an orgasm.

Mental Health Benefits of Having an Orgasm

There are numerous mental health benefits of having an orgasm. These benefits are related to the neurochemicals released by our brains when orgasm happens.

Dr. Alyssa Dweck, sexual and reproductive health expert for INTIMINA, tells us that "Orgasm provides increases and [a] release in dopamine (pleasure hormone), oxytocin (love and cuddle hormone) and endorphins (natural pain killers and well-being chemicals) in the brain."

Let's look at what the release of these chemicals leads to in relation to our psychological state.

Better Sleep

In studies, orgasms have been directly linked to an improved quality of sleep. This holds true whether you achieve orgasm alone or with a partner. In addition to the hormones already mentioned, orgasms release vasopressin (a hormone), which goes hand in hand with your body's production of sleep chemical melatonin.

Less Anxiety

It's the oxytocin produced by an orgasm that can make you experience less anxiety afterward. Studies have shown that even in stressful situations, an increased amount of oxytocin can mitigate an anxiety response.

Of course, for those who experience anxiety on a regular basis, this benefit may not feel as pronounced as for those who do not.

More Happiness

Each of the main chemicals released when we experience orgasms have a positive impact on our happiness. Additionally, people who engage in sexual activity more regularly experience more happiness in life overall.

That means that while it can be easy for pleasure to get lost in the shuffle of daily life, the benefits of ensuring you include sexual pleasure in your schedule include increased happiness.

Improved Physical Well-Being

Sex, even if conducted alone, causes your heart to beat faster, which is a similar experience to exercise and helps you to stay in better physical shape.

Additionally, orgasms lead your body to release dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), a hormone produced in your adrenal gland that is associated with overall fitness. Our bodies reduce the production of DHEA as we age, so increasing its production by having orgasms can help counter that.

Solo vs. Partnered Sex

When we talk about having an orgasm, two things come to mind: sex alone, also known as masturbation, and sex with a partner (or more than one partner).

There's a cultural myth that partnered sex is somehow better for us, but that isn't necessarily the case. Dr. Dweck says that overall, the benefits of orgasms are the same whether they occur alone or with another person.

Dr. Dweck notes that the only difference may be in the body's production of oxytocin. That's because while your body produces some amount of that from the orgasm you have, it can produce even more when you add physical intimacy after. "Love and cuddle-related oxytocin have [an] obvious benefit with a partner," she informs us.

However, because some amount of oxytocin is produced via the orgasm itself, it doesn't mean that if you're alone you won't get any of it. You just won't have the added benefit of cuddling with a partner afterward.

What If I Don't or Can't Have an Orgasm?

Now that we understand how beneficial orgasms are for our psychological states, you may be feeling motivated to be more sexual. For some people, that's an easy task—and for others, not so much. Difficulty achieving orgasm affects all genders, despite the fact that we typically associate it with women.

Mental Blocks That May Prevent an Orgasm

If difficulty achieving orgasm is a psychological issue, relaxing mentally first is key. "The obvious mental blocks include distraction and not being mentally present," says Dr. Dweck.

Dr. Alyssa Dweck, Sexual & reproductive Health Expert

Thinking about the to-do list or stressful day-to-day items can interfere with reaching orgasm.

— Dr. Alyssa Dweck, Sexual & reproductive Health Expert

Be sure to use the tools that work best for you to calm yourself mentally before getting involved in the act of sex.

Physical Issues That May Make Reaching Orgasm More Difficult

If a physical issue is a problem, Dr. Dweck suggests managing pain and dryness so that you don't anticipate discomfort, which is an obvious turnoff emotionally. She also notes that for people with vaginas, "most with a clitoris reach orgasm through direct clitoral stimulation," not vaginal penetration, so make sure you're focusing on the area that will most likely to lead to pleasure and orgasm.

If You've Never Had an Orgasm

Lastly, if you're someone who has never been able to achieve orgasm and you don't think you can, know that there are still benefits to engaging in sexual activity. Neurochemicals are still released by your brain, resulting in the same benefits, even if slightly reduced. It's still a worthwhile activity for your mental health at large.

How to Improve Your Sexual Well-Being

Knowing that it can be a challenge to set time aside for sex is the first step to making that time in your life. While it may feel anything but sexy to schedule time for sex or masturbation, it can actually be a simple way to ensure it happens.

If it makes you nervous to take this first step, you can avoid overcommitting by just scheduling it for one time. As you grow to understand the benefits of regular sexual activity, it can become a more frequently-scheduled occurrence.

Even if you're partnered, Dr. Dweck recommends exploring your sexuality and your body alone in addition to with your partner. You can't properly guide someone else to bring you to orgasm if you aren't positive about what gets you there! There's no shame in masturbating, and it's generally considered a very healthy thing to do overall.

Lastly, Dr. Dweck notes that your sexual health and general health are directly related. If you have a chronic health issue, or you're on medication that reduces sex drive, cut yourself slack for not prioritizing sex. If you're concerned about your body and don't feel confident nude, try practicing body neutrality to get into a more calm and relaxed place about it.

A Word From Verywell

It may feel vulnerable to speak with others about your sexuality and sexual activity, but if you're experiencing difficulties in this space, it can be quite helpful. If you feel mental blocks are preventing you from being able to achieve orgasm, there are sex therapists who specialize in helping people get more comfortable exploring their bodies. There are even online programs available. Know that there's no shame at all in talking about sex, and that some people are so interested in helping you be in the best sexual health possible, they've dedicated their careers to it.

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