The equation might not be quite as simple as more sex equaling more happiness, but according to Dr. Tim Wadsworth, a sociology professor at the University of Colorado, sex does play a part in how happy we are. He and his team looked at sociological data and surveys and found that those folks who thought they were having more sex than their friends and neighbors reported a higher level of happiness than those who thought they were sexually active less frequently. This can be a bit confusing of course, because most of us don’t know for sure how often other couples are having sex.
Dr. Wadsworth explained that we learn about other people’s sex lives (or at least we think we do) through a variety of sources other than direct report. For example, watching movies, TV, and reading magazine articles about frequency of sex can all work together to give us a sense of how often those around us are sexually active.
Years ago I had a supervisor who told me that he could judge the health of couple’s relationship simply by learning a few specifics about their sex life (frequency, satisfaction of both partners, etc). I’m not sure I’d go that far, as there can be circumstances that make sexual activity difficult or impossible (illness, injury, distance, etc) in otherwise happy couples. But, I don’t deny that sexual activity is an important part of overall health and happiness.
For more information about the health benefits of sex, I checked out WebMD and found this great article. Among the benefits of sex: Decreased stress and blood pressure, and improved immune function. Of course particularly active sex might count as physical activity and exercise, with the resulting cardiovascular benefits. For the full list of health benefits (including improved self esteem) check out WebMD’s article.
To read more about Dr. Wadsworth’s study about sex and happiness, click here.