Can Orgasms Reduce Stress? Why Climaxing Is A Powerful Stress Reliever, According To Science

Not only do they feel good, but the benefits of the female orgasm for your mind and body are pretty spectacular. Did you know that orgasms can regulate your period by "sending blood to the organs in the pelvic area," causing women who orgasm weekly to more frequently have 28-day cycles? What about the fact that orgasms can better your memory and brain function by increasing your body's release of dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA)? And don't forget that they're just really pleasurable. 

Just in case you need any other reasons to want an orgasm, you'll be very happy to know that science proves experiencing an orgasm reduces stress levels for many women. Some researchers even recommend using sex as a stress-management technique due to an orgasm's ability to improve mood, lower blood pressure, and release tension.

Language even reveals this beneficial aspect of climaxing. La petite mort is a French idiom for orgasm, translating to "the little death." The phrase references the relaxed, transcendent state following orgasm, thanks to your body's release of hormones and endorphins. Higher levels of these chemicals lower your system's level of cortisol, or the "stress hormone." So, lucky for us, this little death can be a stress killer as well. But how exactly do orgasms relieve stress?

It all happens in the brain.


Sexologist Beverly Whipple compiled information and research about orgasms in her book, The Orgasms Answer Guide, answering many of the questions that we may have about orgasms. Whipple writes, "When a person experiences orgasm, the hormone oxytocin is released from nerve cells in the hypothalamus (a region of the brain) into the bloodstream." Oxytocin is also known as "the love hormone" or "the cuddle hormone" because it is the chemical responsible for creating that ~warm and fuzzy~ feeling that we associate with romance, love, trust, and happiness. In a 2007 report for Planned Parenthood, Carol Rinkleib Ellison wrote, "Orgasm relieves tension as oxytocin stimulates feelings of warmth and relaxation." Ellison also explained, "Low levels of oxytocin are correlated with higher incidence of anxiety disorders," while "increased levels of oxytocin" both reduce stress levels and change a person's response to stressors. It makes sense, then, that a study cited in Whipple's book shows that 39 percent of American women masturbate in order to relax, from a surveyed group of 2,632 women. Whipple also explains that "orgasmic pleasure in a mutually loving relationship can benefit the mental health of the partners," further relieving stress and tension. 

Aside from the research of Whipple and Ellison, scientists in the Netherlands from Groningen University discovered that the amygdala, or "part of the brain associated with fear and anxiety," shows hardly any activity — if any at all — in women mid-orgasm.

Orgasms provide other health benefits that can contribute to reduced stress levels. Specifically, they can help you conquer...

Insomnia

Whipple's book cites a study that revealed "32 percent of women who reported masturbating" engaged in self-pleasure to help themselves fall asleep. Researchers have explained that while the rush of oxytocin already relaxes you, orgasms also release other endorphins that act as sedatives. And since insomnia and stress are often related, orgasms can help counter the sleep disorder, and your stress, through relaxation and sedation.


Pain

Orgasms make great natural painkillers. Whipple explains that "orgasm produces the greatest increase in pain thresholds," and references studies that show vaginal masturbation to climax increases pain thresholds from 40 percent to 100 percent — effectively cutting pain in half. When you are able to get through a day without aches and pains hindering your productivity, happiness, ability, and comfort, you will probably feel less stressed.    


Headaches


In 2013, German researchers from the University of Munster found that orgasms provide excellent pain relief for migraines and cluster headaches; specifically, sex to orgasm lessened headaches in 60 percent of the studied migraine sufferers and one-third of the cluster headache patients. Researchers assume that orgasms from masturbation will be as therapeutic as the orgasms induced by partners. Tension headaches, caused by stress, will be greatly helped by stress-relieving activities like sex and masturbation.

Images: Silvia Viñuales/Flickr; Giphy (4)

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