Human intimacy, contact and interaction is a pretty integral part of someone’s lives. Although nature plays a role in our characteristics, what is just as important is nurture. In early childhood, infants crave contact, intimacy and love, so it just makes sense that as adults we still crave those things albeit without the cooing, drooling and crying. We require companionship, to be talked to, to be held and just as importantly to feel loved. While being intimate hasn’t been demonstrably proven to increase longevity, it has shown some incredible benefits both physically and mentally.
Besides the caloric burn and some cardiovascular activity, being intimate can actually help relieve stress, release endorphins and bring couples closer together.
Read on to find out 12 negative impacts if being intimate is reduced.
Endorphins are chemicals in your body that are released in order to boost your mood and to relieve pain. This is regularly associated with a ‘a runner’s high.’ During physical attraction or peak intimacy, endorphins, which are essentially feel-good chemicals, are released which can help you decrease stress and relieve pain.
A medical study published in the Journal of Family Psychology in 2010, showcased that being intimate can reduce vast amounts of stress and that there is an inverse relationship between high intimate activity and daily stress.
The study conducted on female college students focused on levels of daily stress and intimate activity during the months before a major exam. It reported that women who were under the most stress were having less intimate moments and this issue was compounded when high levels of stress reduce one’s interest in those activities.
Physical intimacy also plays a role in enhancing the strengths of relationships. Not only does it keep you in tune with your body (as well as your partner’s) but it also helps in keeping you more connected emotionally.
Having less intimate moments can lead to a reduction in satisfaction for both you and your partner. The Journal of Family Psychology illustrated that women who reported less intimacy also showed less relationship gratification.
The reduction in gratification, satisfaction and closeness can actually be due to a reduction in a brain chemical. Oxytocin, which is known as ‘the bonding hormone,’ helps produce a sense of trust and closeness. The peak of intimacy helps the release of oxytocin.
Having less intimate moments can also affect your view on yourself. Sheila Loanzon, a gynecologist, has said that having less intimacy can emit negative emotions and judgement that we place on ourselves.
It can lead to feelings of self judgement, anxiety and embarrassment. And when these feelings fester it can influence your own mental health and also the health of the relationship.
For males, fewer intimate interactions can lead to erectile dysfunction. An American Journal of Medicine article showcased that men who had intimate moments at least once a week were half as likely to experience erectile dysfunction than men who experienced less intimate encounters.
The study participants were men aged between 55 and 75 and it illustrated that regular routine intimacy can protect or even prevent erectile dysfunction.
And as for females, regular intimate activity whether alone or with a partner(s) can help promote intimate health. From midlife and beyond, hormonal shifts can affect hydration and elasticity which intimate activity can help fix.
According to the North American Menopause Society, regular private stimulation leads to increased blood flow which helps keep the muscles toned, stretchy and maintains its length.
Moreover, being intimately active helps maintain healthy fluidity. Intimacy helps stimulate glands that produce hydration in a woman. Lack of hydration occurs when a woman is not regularly excited and can be enhanced with hormonal imbalances and menopause.
According to a study by the Journal of Economic Behavior and Organization, low intimate activity can lead to low moods (or low moods can lead to less intimacy.) The report showcased that going from active to less active can affect moods while someone who is feeling down or depressed is less likely to be interested in intimacy.
However, the study combated this downer by stating that regular intimacy and/or activities before intimacy can play a huge role in increasing mood.
As mentioned earlier, intimate activities and their caloric burn can lead to some cardiovascular health benefits. A study in the American Journal of Cardiology showed that low intimate frequency had a correlation with increased cardiovascular disease.
Although this may be a case of mistaking correlation for causation, doctors say that this study is indicative of the benefits associated with regular intimacy and a healthy heart.
Since intimacy can help reduce stress it has also been shown to boost the immune system. Physical attraction and the height of intimacy help lower stress levels through the release of brain chemicals. And a less stressed body has been associated with an improved immune system.
Having less intimacy can lead to an individual desiring less intimate moments over time. Physically, having less intimacy might influence erectile dysfunction which can lead to a person wanting to engage in fewer intimate encounters.
It can boost your self-perception. Having more intimacy, and thus releasing more of these feel-good chemicals, can lead to you feeling better about yourself. Along with the reduction of stress, the relieving of pain and the general pleasure that comes with intimate moments, it is no surprise that regular intimacy can help boost your take on yourself.