It's always fun to find out that our favorite things might actually be good for us. Dark chocolate. Red wine. Living room dance parties.
But perhaps the best health news we've ever received is that orgasms are actually really damn good for us.
That's right: The "Big O" has tons of health benefits. So, in case we needed any more reason to get it on (with ourselves or with others), science has given us just that.
When dissecting the health benefits of orgasms, it's important to understand what's happening in the body when we climax.
One of the central components of an orgasm's "feel-good" sensations—and one of its secrets to well-being—is oxytocin. Oxytocin is a hormone that relates to pleasure, reproduction, and social bonding. In short, oxytocin makes us feel damn good. And it's released when we have sex, masturbate, and orgasm.
Oxytocin is the key (or one of the keys) to why we enjoy sex so much. And it's also a primary reason why an orgasm can improve our health.
So, orgasms themselves don't exactly cure cancer or keep us from contracting COVID or the flu. It's more that the effects of regular orgasms can lead to positive health benefits over time. But these are still measurable impacts that explain why some folks (like NPR's LifeKit) are calling orgasms the "new apple a day."
As sexologist Megan Stubbs tells NPR, orgasm "can help boost your immune system, boost your mood, you know, decreases pain, reduces headaches, helps you sleep better, gives you better-looking skin, puts a smile on your face."
Additionally, orgasms reduce stress levels, improve heart health, and increases feelings of social bonding.
The fantastic thing about oxytocin—other than how wonderful it feels—is that it reduces our stress levels. Relaxation is an almost automatic side effect of oxytocin, making it one of the best destressers out there.
Reduced stress, in turn, is known to have about a gajillion positive health effects. It reduces our risk for heart disease and cancer, among many other illnesses and diseases.
Along with these wildly important benefits, stress reduction is a sleep improver.
It's pretty widely known (at least anecdotally) that orgasms help us sleep. According to sleep.org, "Having an orgasm releases a hormone called prolactin, which makes you feel relaxed and sleepy."
An orgasm is a natural sleep aid that can help keep insomnia at bay. Heck, some people say that they masturbate primarily to help themselves fall asleep.
What's more, the science has long been in that good sleep leads to better health. According to the National Health Service (NHS.UK), sleep boosts immunity, keeps you slim, boosts mental wellbeing, prevents diabetes, increases sex drive, wards off heart disease, and increases fertility.
So, orgasms lead to reduced stress, which leads to better sleep, which leads to better long-term health outcomes. I think we call that a win/win/win/win.
Some of the heart benefits of sex and orgasm come from the increased aerobic activity that happens when we engage in this physical activity—just like when we engage in any physical activity. But the other component of this relationship between orgasms and the heart traces back to reduced stress effects.
Just like reduced stress improves sleep, it also improves our heart health. Stress is a known risk factor for heart disease, so anything we can do to decrease it is a step in the right direction for our cardiovascular wellness.
First, it is important to acknowledge that orgasms aren't always done in the presence of someone else. But when they are, there is an added benefit for our long-term health and well-being.
Social bonding clearly has benefits for our social lives and love lives. But it also improves our health. Sociologists point out that "social relationships affect a range of health outcomes, including mental health, physical health, health habits, and mortality risk."
It's long been established that social bonds and ties can improve our long-term health outcomes and increase our well-being. Yet another reason to spend some time between the sheets.
Did we need more reasons to have sex or masturbate? Probably not. Are we happy to have them anyway? Hell yes.
Hoping to reduce your stress levels? Have an orgasm. Wanting to prevent insomnia and get a better night's sleep? Try climaxing. Interested in reducing the risk of heart disease and other illnesses? Masturbate or get naked with someone. Like the idea of improving social bonding—and all the happy benefits that come from it? Have some hot and heavy sexy time.
Ultimately, the pleasure, intimacy, relaxation, and well-being that happen as a result of orgasms is almost too good to be true. So, go forth and orgasm! It's good for you, after all.