We often think of sex as something our bodies are doing, but a lot of our sex life takes place in our brains. It’s important to realize that, casual sex has always existed, but it has become much more common and accepted in recent decades. The availability of the birth control pill from the 1950s to date, has led to the sexual revolution and a growing number of casual sex encounters.
Research on relations between casual sex and mental health is inconclusive, with studies indicating different effects casual sex has on mental health. This article will look at both sides of the spectrum: negative and positive.
Helps lower stress levels
Autonomous reasons, also known as the right reasons, include engaging in casual sex for enjoyment or to explore and learn about your sexuality. Women in this position are generally found to have lower stress levels following episodes of casual sex. This would suggest that engaging ins casual sex for the right reasons may both buffer against any potentially harmful consequences of casual sex and allow access to its potential benefits.
If you have the right reason with someone you’re comfortable with, no strings attached, you can walk away feeling great and empowered without having to put your heart on the line.
Orgasms are good for you
Yes, that’s right! If you’re there for a good time, casual sex will benefit you by the range of feel-good chemicals your body will produce. Orgasms aren’t only good for your body, in the form of immune system strengthening, but climaxing also releases feel-good neurochemicals like dopamine and oxytocin that boost your satisfaction and helps induce euphoria which is a great antidote for depression.
With all of the feel-good chemicals being released in addition to a boost to one’s body image, how could self-esteem not experience a lift?
In some cases, where casual sex is done for the wrong reasons, it can lead to low moods instead of happiness. This is common in people who tend to value intimacy and views sex as something that happens after a relationship develops. You may feel as though you’ve missed a couple of steps to get to your ideal sexual satisfaction and that leaves you with a form of anxiety and depression.
In the case that people confuse commitment and casual hook-ups, this may lead to a lack of emotional availability and a number of these people report feeling as though they’ve been used after having sex. This is mainly prevalent in women.
Your decision whether or not to have casual sex is personal and some people in this position tend to get so caught up in pleasing their sexual partner that they lose track of what they really want. Casual sex doesn’t create an atmosphere of trust or safety but one where we are judged on looks and performance. This pressure to present a perfect version of yourself may lead to performance anxiety as well as general anxiety.
Under the right circumstances, casual sex makes you somebody who owns their sexuality, taking their pleasure and desires into their own hands. So don’t be ashamed or embarrassed of your decision. It’s likely that not all casual sex encounters have the same potential to harm or benefit us. Instead, there are individual, interpersonal, and social factors that this relationship between casual sex and mental health depends on.
How Marie Stopes can help you
Marie Stopes centres across South Africa offer safe short and long-term contraceptives and advice on choosing the right one for you and your partner.
Contact us today!