Since February seems to be our culturally-recognized love month, we thought it would be an appropriate time to talk about orgasms as anxiety soothers. Yup, we’re going there. And you should come with us (no pun intended). Here’s why:
- When you climax, your brain releases a neurochemical called oxytocin, aka the “love hormone,” which is responsible for that natural high you feel throughout your body. You know that warm, tingly but calming sensation? That’s oxytocin—a natural relaxant you can make all by yourself.
- Orgasms decrease activity in the amygdala, the part of the brain responsible for the anxiety “fight, flight or freeze” response.
- Orgasms release sleep-inducing chemicals into the bloodstream thereby staving off insomnia—a known cause of anxiety.
- Orgasms make the neurotransmitter serotonin more available throughout the body, which is exactly what SSRIs (most commonly prescribed antidepressants) aim to do in the treatment of anxiety and depression.
- Orgasms can alleviate pain because of all the endorphins they release.
- Orgasms naturally cause your muscles to contract and then release, consequently releasing tension throughout your entire body.
- Orgasms stimulate blood and nutrient flow, not just to your genitals, but also to your brain, which helps you feel more clear-headed and less prone to irrational thinking.
- Partnered orgasms allow you to feel connected to another human which decreases depression and anxiety symptoms.
To summarize what the scientific literature has found, orgasms are not just for pleasure—they also provide lots of health benefits including lowered blood pressure, pain relief, better quality sleep, reduced headaches (including migraines), reduction in stress hormones, clearer skin, increase in feel-good neurochemicals, regulation of menstrual cycles, deeper feelings of connection with self and others, and heightened brain function. All of these effects also decrease anxiety.
Orgasms are free and don’t have side effects.
So, if you have been skimping on the sexual pleasure, consider it part of your mental health care regimen!
Note: As lifelong Anxiety Sisters, we understand that climaxing can be a challenge for women on certain medications, especially SSRIs like Paxil, Prozac and Zoloft. That said, orgasms are very worthy pursuits and should not be forgone. There are some fabulous toys on the market which can help even the toughest customer. And medications can be adjusted or changed so that you don’t have to give up one of life’s great pleasures. For more information about anorgasmia and what you can do about it, click here.