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STRESSED OUT? HAVE SEX!
The health benefits of sex extend far beyond just physical pleasure. A regular, protected and openly communicated sex life can provide more than just release or a pick me up but may act as a mental and emotional health aid.
Does sex relieve stress and anxiety?
A massive benefit of regular sex is the lowering of cortisol levels, particularly in women. Cortisol is a naturally occurring steroid hormone that plays a key role in the body’s stress response, earning itself the nickname the “stress hormone”.
Physical contact lowers the body’s production and secretion of this hormone. Also, sexual intimacy not only suppresses this but releases hormones with opposite-end functions. Endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin are the happier, healthier hormones released as a result of sex.
Endorphins reduce pain while having a similar affect as oxytocin, which helps as a sleep aid. Oxytocin, or the “love” hormone, is released during activities such as orgasm and hugging. Dopamine is commonly known as the “feel-good” hormone and is released not only during sex but when doing something pleasurable, in turn feeding the internal reward system.
Have more sex and reduce stress
High levels of cortisol results in lowered libido. Therefore, to truly have more sex, the management of stress levels becomes paramount. Unfortunately, during stressful times, sex is often the thing furthermost from our minds.
A starting point in reducing stress starts with self-care, for both you and your partner. Yoga, light to moderate exercise, body massages and baths are all examples of this. It is also important to prioritise time with your partner. Attachment and closeness can bring feelings of calm.
In some cases, where anxiety/stress may be especially severe, professional therapy may be needed, possibly even couple’s therapy in the event that the relationship takes too much strain. It would be equally as beneficial to talk to your partner because not only would you acknowledge a problem but in turn, it may help to take all the weight and responsibilities off the other person’s shoulders.
Time for intimacy, solo or co-op
Prioritising time for intimacy is critical when there’s stress. Play-time and its significance can easily be overlooked when the stressors of day-to-day life become too much. Couples need to communicate and engage not only where they are mentally and emotionally but where they’d like to be or what they might need from their partner.
Make time for date nights. If you have kids, get help to look after them for the night. Get your favourite dinner sorted and just embrace spending one-on-one time again. If the spark in the bedroom has started to dwindle, then consider spicing things up with the option of sex toys, roleplaying or living out your wildest fantasies.
Even if there is no compromise on intimacy, masturbation is still an option. Self-exploration helps in building a positive self-image, as well as helping you learn what you do and don’t like in the bedroom as well as new techniques, opening the door for all kinds of orgasmic possibilities!
The sex toy industry is also an ever-growing market, with new devices for anyone who wants more stimulation alone or with a partner. For example, vibrators, realistic vibrators (shaped like the real thing) or rabbit vibrators, are all designed to stimulate you anytime you want.
For men, there are prostate massagers, Fleshlights, strokers (similar to a Fleshlight but with more suction points gripping around the penis) and even penis massagers that stimulate the frenulum (the frenulum is located on the underside of the penis, just below the head of the penis and is said to be equally as sensitive as the clit to a female).
Sexercise and sexual well-being
Besides just the mental and emotional relief that intimacy brings, sex is also good for the heart and body. Studies have shown that men burn on average 4.2 calories per minute and women burn 3.1 calories per minute during sex. Not massive, but definitely fun. Regular intimacy also lowers baseline blood pressure, making it less likely to rise during an otherwise stressful moment or event.
Patience and understanding with your partner during stressful times helps our overall sexual wellbeing while bringing us closer. Consider running them a soothing bubble bath or invite them to a full body massage. Lubricants, sexual stimulants, and massage oils are also a few good sexual investment ideas.
You could also set the tone/mood with candles and perhaps even some subtle, sensual background music. YouTube is one example that has a wide variety of music playlists depending on your mood, ranging anywhere from fifteen minutes to three hours.
Stress affects us all from time to time. That doesn’t mean that it has to rule your sex life too. If anything, more sex; less stress! One also has to remain mindful of the mental and emotional state of the other person involved. Nobody chooses to be stressed and it can happen to any of us at any given moment. In turn, during trying times, we should treat others as we would expect them to treat us, not only in mind and spirit but in body too.