You don't need a scientific study to tell you how sex impacts your happiness. Generally speaking: consensual sex = big, dumb grin on your face, post-coital glow, and that feeling you can take on the entire world. (Think: The Lonely Island's "I Just Had Sex," but more lady-centric.) Although that is a super common response to 20 minutes in heaven (give or take a few minutes), the prevailing notion that more sex is guaranteed to make you happier isn't one-size-fits-all.
The extent to which sex makes you happy, in my humble opinion, has more to do with your personal and cultural values than any overarching correlation between hitting it and happiness. I grew up thinking promiscuity was cool, and hence, the more sex I had with different people, the better I felt. On the other hand, I had plenty of friends who believed sex was only viable in a committed monogamous relationship, and thus they were happier when having sex with only one person. So when we talk about sex and happiness, it's vital to take into account age, gender, sexuality, and personal differences that can have a big impact on the equation. Here's what science has to say about sex and happiness:
1. For LTR Couples, Sex Once A Week Brings Peak Happiness
A 2015 study published in Social Psychology and Personality Science surveyed the sexual attitudes of 25,510 Americans, ages 18 to 89, and found more sex doesn't always mean increased happiness. For the subjects in relationships, happiness didn't increase statistically if they were having sex more than once a week. Apparently, every seven days is the sweet spot that leads to higher rates of satisfaction, but beyond that, it's just icing on the cake.
2. Increasing Sex Frequency Is Like Winning The Lottery
File this fact under obvious. According to one study in The Scandinavian Journal of Economics from 2004, upping your sex frequency from once a month to once a week is like being gifted a cool $50,000. Money might not be able to buy you love, but money and/or sex can sure get you a little extra happiness.
3. More Sex Means Less Happiness, If It's In The Name Of Science
A 2015 study that received quite a bit of media attention suggested that more sex might, in fact, equal less happiness. Researchers at Carnegie Mellon University analyzed the sex lives of 128 individuals, a portion of whom were asked to double the frequency of sex they had each week with their partners for three months. By the end of the study, that group actually reported a decrease in happiness, but — as researchers admitted — it's likely because having more sex in the name of a study is probably annoying and pretty unsexy.
4. The Higher Your Education, The Happier Sex Makes You
In a survey of 16,000 Americans by the National Bureau of Economic Research, sex was shown to have a greater impact on the happiness of those with a high level of education. Study authors were unable to come up with a conclusive cause for this finding, so the mystery continues — although I wonder if it's related to the fact that those with higher IQs are thought to have higher sex drives, too?
5. Sex Can Make You Happier Than Partying And Praying
What activities make us the happiest? The University of Canterbury in New Zealand asked 173 people to rate things they did each day and how pleasurable, meaningful, and happy each made them feel. Sex came out on top as a chief happiness producer, followed by drinking and partying, and then down the list came volunteering, religious activities, and playing with children. Top negative ranking activities in terms of happiness quotients included getting over an illness, and, oddly, texting.
Images: Andrew Zaeh for Bustle; Giphy