At the level of chemistry, for both men and women: Dopamine , released during orgasm , is associated with our basic reward system. Sex increases testosterone in both men and women. Frequency of sex in younger men appears to protect them from prostate cancer later in life and to enhance the physiology of sexual functioning in women, preventing chronic cystitis, eventual prolapse, and incontinence. It is associated with increased survival in men , especially from heart attacks.
At the level of behavior: Sex can be exercise. A national study showed sex as the 1 activity associated with self-reported happiness. At the level of emotion: Because of the pleasure, sex is associated with increased subjective reports of positive feelings.
Physical activity is related to greater life satisfaction. At the level of cognition: At any age, people feel better when they are sought after by other people. Having a partner who wants to be with you in such a close and connected way increases feelings of self-worth, the lynch-pin of psychological health, according to theories of psychological health derived from Adlerian principles. Sex allows people to believe they have something of value to give.
Being a responsive sexual partner is an act of great generosity. At the interpersonal level: Relationship intimacy and sex are synergistic , each promoting the other.
Within long-term marriages , sexual contact helps sustain the marriage even as other stresses associated with aging threaten to challenge it. For example, in one study of couples over 50 who had been married at least 20 years, impediments or barriers to sexual behaviors were of minimal importance as long as physical intimacy continued.
At the cultural level: Attitudes towards sexual behavior vary dramatically among people of different cultural backgrounds. Sense of coherence is associated with health and longevity. This has negative health consequences.
Finally, at a spiritual level: Being able to take care of someone else sexually invokes feelings of gratitude , a source of appreciation for our resources.
The court decision was a wise one, providing institutional support for one of our most basic drives and greatest interpersonal needs. Copyright Roni Beth Tower.