When the stress of work, parenting, everyday life, or surviving a global pandemic, gets to be too much, one of the best ways to destress and find some happiness is to hop in bed with a partner.
Most of us have experienced firsthand just how uplifting a good romp in the sack can be, and the science backs up our personal experiences. Numerous studies have shown that sex plays a significant role in stress reduction and increased happiness.
The science behind sex and happiness
One study published in the Journal of Social and Personal Relationships asked 75 participants to record their daily stress levels and their sexual activity for 18 days. The researchers found that the participants’ stress levels were significantly lower on the day after they had sex. Another study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine revealed that among the over 2,800 participants, those who had penetrative intercourse more frequently reported higher levels of satisfaction with their lives and better overall mental health.
Sex can even change the way that our physiological response to stress. A study published in the journal Biological Psychology examined the relationship between sex and blood pressure, which can indicate stress response. They asked 46 people to track their daily sexual activities for two weeks. The participants were then exposed to a stressful situation by the researchers. The participants who’d had sex within the two week period had lower baseline blood pressure and lower blood pressure spikes in response to stress.
Sex makes us feel so good because it floods the brain with feel good chemicals. Dr. Jason Krellman, a neuropsychologist and assistant professor of neuropsychology at Columbia University Medical Center, told The Healthy that sex releases large quantities of dopamine, one of the primary neurochemicals involved in the brain’s reward system. Dopamine is associated with feelings of intense happiness, contentment, and desire. Sex also triggers the release of the neurotransmitters serotonin and oxytocin, both of which produce feelings of happiness and contentment. With all those happy chemicals rushing around our brains, it’s no wonder our stress melts away after a good session in the sack.
Sex positions to increase your happiness
Though sex in any form will likely provide a boost in mood, some sex experts suggest that specific sexual positions are better than others. If you’re feeling adventurous and really need to chill out, try some of these positions with your partner!
Having to be in control, make lots of decisions, and capital A Adult on a daily basis causes a lot of stress, sex and relationship expert and licensed mental health professional Kryss Shane told Popsugar. For those who need to let loose, let go of control, and let their partner do most of the work, doggy style is an awesome position. In this position, the partner being penetrated gets on their hands and knees. The penetrating partner gets up on their knees behind their partner’s hips and penetrates their partner from behind.
Shane added that doggy style often leads to more intense orgasms, which releases more endorphins, making you feel even better. Cara Kovacs, a New York City–based sex coach, told Health.com that doggy is also a great position for getting a little rowdy, if that’s your thing. This can be a really primal way to physically release some stress.
You can take a good cuddle from romantic to sexy with this sex position. According to sexologist Megan Stubbs’ interview with Women’s Health, this position is amazing for stress relief because the close, skin to skin contact releases endorphins and calms your nervous system.
For some spooning sex, the penetrating partner is the “big spoon” position, and the partner being penetrated is the “little spoon” position. The partner being penetrated needs to bend their legs a little so the penetrating partner can get under their hips and penetrate from behind.
Sexpert Kayla Lords told Health.com that spooning is the perfect sex position for when both partners are stressed out and tired. It requires little effort from either partner and afterwards you can both fall asleep in the same cuddly position!
Once you stop giggling at the name of this position and try it, you’ll see why it should be taken seriously. Certified sexologist and tantra practitioner Tyomi Morgan described this tantric sex position to Healthline, saying it mixes sexuality with spirituality to provide the ultimate stress relief and mood booster.
There are two different ways to get into this position, which admittedly is a bit complicated. The penetrating partner can sit cross-legged or on the edge of a chair, bed, or couch. The partner being penetrated then sits on their lap, facing them, allowing them to penetrate as they sit down. The partner being penetrated then wraps their legs around the penetrating partner. Morgan explained that this aligns the partners’ genital chakras.
She emphasized that yab-yum isn’t just about body positioning and how it feels. It’s also about adding in practices that help you connect with your partner like deep, sustained eye contact and synchronized breathing. This deep connection enriches the entire experience, leading to intense stress relief.
Missionary gets a bad rep as a boring, vanilla position. But when it comes to stress relief, comfortable and familiar might be exactly what you need, sex expert Laurel House told Health.com. Because so many couples are accustomed to this position, it’s a great one to try when you both need some mood-lifting, stress-busting sex. You don’t have to think about getting into some wild position or trying something new. You can just go with a good old standby.
House suggested bringing a new “intention” into the position to change the tone a bit. Try setting the intention to connect with your partner through sustained eye contact or sexy talk or to do other things that make your body feel good like lots of kissing or touching.
The next time you need to destress, try one of these mood-lifting sex positions and let your tension melt away.