Sex is something we spend a lot of time thinking about. Whether it’s the lack of sex or the session we just had, intimacy is often on our minds. We know consensual sex makes us feel great, but what type of benefits can it have on our mental health? Here are 5 ways sexual activity impacts your mental health:

Improves your mood

Having sex gives you a boost of oxytocin, the hormone responsible for those good feelings. Oxytocin also acts as a natural pain reliever, so don’t shy away from sexual activity if you’re not feeling your best. It can relieve cramps, migraines, joint pains, and other ailments.

Makes you glow

The afterglow you experience post-sex is a real and healthy effect. Your body responds with heightened sensitivity and blood-flow for up to 48 hours after you have sex.

Brings you closer to your partner

Having a connection with your partner is good for your mental health. When you have sex, the hormones your body releases create a bond between the two of you, because you shared something intimate. While modern day society may shrug the chemical connection off, there’s real science to the feelings you catch after a bedroom rumble. Feeling like you don’t intimately know your partner’s history? STD testing centers can provide you with confirmation of your health status.

Reduces stress

All of the feel-good hormones released during sex contribute to your overall mood, and in turn this lowers the amount of stress you feel. While sex can’t fix all your problems, it acts as a natural buffer from painful physical and emotional experiences. You’ll feel less stressed after you spend time between the sheets.

Makes you smarter

After sex, your analytic thinking skills improve. That’s a pretty impressive fact for anyone who thinks avoiding sex may be better for improving focus. (Spoiler alert: It’s not!)

These benefits are just the tip of the iceberg for sex and your mental health. Much of the research and findings point to including sex as part of your regular routine. The benefits are great, and the feeling you get from the experience is awesome. Before you feel guilty for staying up late or looking forward to your next rendezvous, remember that sex is a normal and healthy part of life. You’re not just imagining it; sex improves your mental health. For your physical health, be sure to include STD testing centers as part of your routine medical care.