Equilibrium of Mental and Sexual Health

Equilibrium of Mental and Sexual Health

Having sex, with a partner with yourself, has all types of physical health benefits. But how does it impact your mental health?

Having sex, with a partner with yourself, has all types of physical health benefits. But how does it impact your mental health? How do you maintain a proper balance of the two? By examining how the two are related, practicing moderation, and being open and honest with the people you have sex with - even if it’s just yourself.

The Link Between Physical and Mental Health

In modern Western society, we have a tendency to think of our mind and body as two separate spheres, isolated from one another. This type of thinking is detrimental to the health of both, it couldn’t be further from the truth. Your mind is part of your body - if you take care of one and neglect the other, the ill effects will flow together.

Physical and mental wellness have sort of a chicken-or-the-egg effect. If you fail to focus on mental hygiene, it will become more difficult to become motivated to take care of yourself physically; similarly, the longer you avoid exercise or any type of physical wellness, you may become depressed or face a loss of self-esteem. 

You know the feeling. If you’ve ever forced yourself out of bed on a chilly morning to go to a yoga class or for a brisk jog, you rarely regret it. Your body feels good, strong; you feel proud of yourself for accomplishing the thing, and you likely got a rush of endorphins that are sure to keep your spirits up for the day and help you stay focused and alert while you go on to accomplish other things throughout the day.

It sounds simple enough, but we know that if you’re already in the hole, it’s a lot harder to pull yourself out. Start small - maybe taking a short walk in the evening is something you can add to your routine or downloading a meditation app and spending five minutes every morning doing some deep breathing and contemplation. 

Link Between Sex and Mental Health

In a similar vein, we tend to think of sex as a very physical act, but in fact, sex has a lot to do with your mental, emotional and spiritual health. Sex has an impact. So does lack of sex. It all depends on having a sense of what your needs and desires are, and fulfilling them in a healthy way. If you’re dependent on sex for your self-esteem, this can indicate an unhealthy relationship with sex. If you take care of your mental health first and determine that your sense of self and fulfillment are not going to rely on how much sex you’re having or how many sexual partners you have, then you’ll move with more confidence. Then the other components will fall into place quite naturally!

Similarly to mental health and motivation to care for your physical health, the same thing can happen with your sexuality. If you’re depressed, your sex drive can take a nosedive, which can cause you to spiral more. But research shows that sex can actually ease depressive symptoms! Another chicken/egg scenario - how do you get it on when you can hardly get out of bed? Being proactive to care for both when possible will make maintaining great mental, sexual and physical health will become effortless.

Mental Health Benefits of Sex and Orgasms

Masturbation and sex are unquestionable life-enhancers if used responsibly. There are many pleasant physical side effects of regular orgasms, like decreased disposition to hypertension, rapid heartbeat, and heart disease. The endorphin rush can promote better sleep, and one study even found that people who orgasm frequently live longer than people who don’t. Some of the mental health benefits that stem from sexual pleasure include the following:

With a partner:

  • Improved sense of connectedness with your partner
  • Deeper satisfaction within your relationship
  • Release of dopamine - the fun “reward” chemical that makes you feel excited and happy
  • Release of oxytocin - the nice brain chemical that makes you feel safe and encourages bonding! 

With yourself:

  • Enhanced knowledge of your turn-ons and turn-offs
  • Sense of being in tune with your body/self
  • Acceptance of your body
  • A sense of freedom - no fear or worry about STIs or pregnancy
  • More orgasms!


  • Reduced stress levels
  • Elevated self-esteem
  • A post-sex “glow” - One study found that people who have a regular sex life often look younger, possibly due to reduced stress, improved mood, and better sleep habits.

Can sex ever be detrimental to your mental health?

Yes, totally! Sex can become a form of self-harm if it’s used as a means to any other end than enjoyment and connection. If you’re using sex in any of the following ways, it’s time to do some reflection on what’s triggering this need. 

  • Having sex to avoid confronting negative feelings
  • Having casual sex because you feel lonely
  • Having casual sex to deal with decreased self-esteem
  • Having unsafe sex

A therapist can help you confront misuse of sex and resolve the roots of these causes.

Mental health without sex

You don’t have to have sex to live a healthy, happy, fulfilling life. If you’re asexual, unpartnered, celibate for spiritual reasons, or if you just simply can’t be bothered, there are so many other activities to enjoy that can offer similar benefits. Whether it’s art, exercise, pets, friends or family, living a balanced life, indulging in vices moderately will ensure that you have a happy, healthy equilibrium of physical and mental health.

The key to maintaining a healthy balance of sexuality and mental wellness appears to be honesty and autonomy. Having awareness as to the source of your desires paves the way for deeper introspection. Hard questions like “Am I engaging in this behavior because I want to enjoy my body and bring my partner pleasure, or am I engaging in this behavior because I don’t feel good about something and I want to escape from feeling this way” force you to look at deeper psychological mechanisms at work that can lead to deeper emotional harm.