What Is the Impact of Casual Sex on Mental Health?

Having less casual sex worsened women’s mental health in lockdown, docs warn

What Is the Impact of Casual Sex on Mental Health?

HAVING less casual sex has impacted on women’s mental health during lockdown, doctors have warned.

A survey found that women who reported having romantic trysts with various people before Covid have since felt low.

A lack of casual sex has reduced women's mental wellnessCredit: Getty — Contributor

Covid restrictions have meant that people from two separate households have not been able to stay over at each other’s for the majority of the past year.

Since March 2020, it has been effectively against the law to sleep with someone — unless they live in the same house.

Overnight stays at another person’s home is not set to change until step three of the lockdown roadmap, which will be introduced on or after May 17.

It's caused a national dry spell, for both singletons and those living away from their partner.

Researchers led by University of Bourmeouth investigated the true impact lockdown has had on Brits’ sex lives.

They surveyed 565 people aged 18 to 32 in the UK at the end of peak lockdown restrictions in May 2020, 78 per cent of whom were straight.

Respondents were asked how much sex or masturbation they had both before the pandemic and during lockdown, as well as how much porn they had watched to guage levels of sexual desire.

They were asked about “social sexuality” — an scientific term for engaging in hook-ups, one-night-stands or a friends-with-benefits relationship.

Participants revealed how many partners had they had in the past 12 months, attitudes to sex “without love” and how often thought about sex with stragners during the day.

And lastly, they were asked how their general health or wellbeing had been impacted by Covid.

The findings revealed that those who had casual sex with a stranger dropped from 12 per cent just before lockdown to 1.4 per cent during.

The lack of casual sex allowed due to the risk of catching the coronavirus had an impact on women’s wellbeing.

“Women with a greater enjoyment of casual sex reported a greater perceived effect of lockdown on their wellbeing”, the lead reasearcher Liam Wignall, a lecturer in psychology, wrote for The Conversation. 

The correlation was “significant”, according to the report in the Journal of Sex Research.

But the researchers did not offer an explanation as to why it men did not suffer in the same way.

Prof Wignall said: “Government policy ignored sex during lockdown. It needs to actively support sexual health and wellbeing as we return to some kind of normality.”


Sex doesn’t just feel good — it’s proven to be beneficial for mental and physical health.

But casual sex can often be the result of low self-esteem or mental health problems, with research showing the two feed off each other in younger adults.

Dating apps have also been linked with low body confidence in women.

But this study suggests that for the average woman, keeping sexually active with various partners is imperative to mental wellness.

“Casual sex is positively associated with well-being for people with unrestricted sociosexuality,” the research team wrote in their paper.

“Restrictions on such behaviors may impact negatively on these individuals. 

“Given that lockdown measures effectively criminalized casual sex between non-cohabiting individuals, there is the potential for greater impact on single individuals with unrestricted sociosexuality.”


The findings also showed that women reported a lower sexual desire than men over lockdown, while men’s remained stable.

Researchers blamed an increase in stress and anxiety around the pandemic, which studies have shown women have experienced more.

“The reported increase in domestic chores and stress for women during the lockdown may explain the decrease in sexual desire and the negative effect on wellbeing”, Prof Wignall added.

Men already had higher sexual desires than women before the lockdowns came into force, the study showed.

But the study found overall, couples spent less time between the sheets over lockdown — just over a quarter of respondents said activity decreased.

This could be both because couples were suddenly separated during lockdown, or because those living together felt uninterested in sex.

For those participants who continued having sex during lockdown, researchers asked whether the frequency went up or down.

Among those who said sexual activity had decreased, a third of people had less sex with their partner, a quarter masturbated alone less, and around a fifth (22 per cent) watched less porn.

Источник: https://www.the-sun.com/news/2615131/having-less-casual-sex-worsened-womens-mental-health-lockdown/

How Casual Sex Impacts Your Mental Health, Per Sex Experts

What Is the Impact of Casual Sex on Mental Health?

You just had the kind of mind-blowing sex that would make Anastasia Steele blush: a little raunchy, a little rough, and A LOT orgasmic. And now you're walking your suitor to the door before star-fishing straight onto the mattress. Bliss, bliss, bliss!

This is the kind of best of both worlds—satisfying romp! no morning breath!—casual sex promises. But is casual sex all it’s cracked up to be? According to sex and relationship experts, for some people it is, while for others, it’s a fast track to heart palpitations and pain. Yep, if you've ever caught the feels after sleeping with someone regularly, you know what I mean.

And it's not rare for that to happen, says Chloe Carmichael, PhD.

«Women release oxytocin, a bonding hormone, when they have sex (and particularly when they orgasm), so in many cases it's hard not to feel at least a little attached,» she explains.

«And of course, the more you spend any kind of physical time with someone, the more you're ly to learn about them and get to know them on a more personal level.»

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Which camp you fall into ultimately depends on your ability to separate sex from love, as well as W-H-Y you’re having casual sex.

Read on for a casual sex crib sheet, featuring intel on the pros and cons of casual coitus, as well as tips on what to do if you start catching feels for your romping bae.

What is casual sex, exactly?

Let’s start by defining sex, no qualifier attached. More than just a trip to pound town with a partner, sex can be any meaningful act of pleasure. Hand stuff, mouth play, sex toy use, and kissing can all fall into the sex «bucket.»

Typically, casual sex refers to any act of pleasure with one (or more!) other people that are free from any «strings,» expectation of commitment, and/or exclusivity.

«But what casual sex means and how it plays out can vary,» says psychologist and sex therapist Megan Fleming, PhD. For some, casual sex specifically refers to sex that happens with someone they met at a bar or on an app. For others, casual sex feels an accurate descriptor of their friends with benefits dynamic.

«How you meet and how often you do it is less important to the definition than the fact that you are genuinely not expecting the dynamic to evolve into something more,» Fleming says. Understood!

There's obvious benefits to casual sex, right…?

The plot lines of romcoms No Strings Attached might have you believin' casual sex is bad. But that’s false advertising.

Casual sex is a wonderful way for people to get their physical touch wants (err, needs?) and sexual fix, according to Fleming. In particular, casual sex appeals to those who aren’t interested in committed monogamous relationships, or who haven’t yet met someone they’re interested in entering a committed monogamous relationship with, she explains.

After all, committed relationships can be time consuming, she says: «Some people don’t have the availability to commit to a relationship, but still want to feel pleasure.» (And there's no shame in that!)

Casual sex can also lend itself to a particular thrill, excitement, or endorphin-rush that some pleasure-seekers lust after, says Laura Berman, PhD, host of the Language of Love Podcast and author of Quantum Love.

And of course, casual sex offers many of the similar benefits of other kinds of sex, including increased confidence, boosted libido, and improved sleep quality.

Should the sex end in—or better yet: travel through—the O-zone, it can also ease menstrual cramps, decrease headache pain, reduce stress and anxiety, and boost immune system.

Sooo, what are the downsides of casual sex?

The biggie, according to Berman, is that the odds of catching feels for the person you intended to keep around for some good ole fashioned casual boning are high.

Reminder: Sex, including casual sex, causes the brain to release oxytocin, which makes us feel more emotionally tied to a person. Basically, you're biologically wired to attach to any sexual partners, so it's not only common, it's natural.

Plus, during all that physical time spent with your casual sex buddy, you'll ly start to learn about them and get to know them on a more personal level. If you what you learn, odds are you're going to start to feel the feels. (More on how to handle this below.)

Another potential drawback of casual sex? It’s often less pleasurable than the sex that takes place in an ongoing partnership, according to Berman. In one survey, data showed that amongst cis-het couples, only 10 percent of women reach orgasm during one-night stands, while men reach orgasm 64 percent of the time during one-night stands. (The survey did not speak to non-binary folks.)

Of course, context is everything. «Friends with benefits situations and ongoing casual sex allows your partners to learn your body and desires better, and therefore be more ly to help you achieve orgasm or pleasure,» Berman adds.

Casual sex can also lead to disappointment if one of the partners agrees to the dynamic in hopes the sex is going to «persuade» the other person to be in committed relationship.

Unfortunately, it's common for people to think (read: hope) that having sex with them will grow their feelings. «This is highly unly,» Berman says.

«If one person doesn’t want a commitment, having casual sex with them isn’t ly to change their mind.»

And, not to be a downer, but there is some safety concern if your sexy time is with a stranger. «You [should be] very cautious about who you’re bringing home,» says Berman.

If you're meeting up with someone new, make sure a trusted friend or family member knows where you are at all times. Also keep safe sex in mind in order to avoid risks of STD transmission.

It's totally up to you how you handle your romping sesh, but trust your gut, if something feels off.

Is having casual sex right for me?

To determine if casual nookie is for you, you’re going to have to do a little self-reflection. Berman and Fleming recommend asking yourself the following:

  1. Do I really want to have no-strings-attached sex?
  2. Do I have a particular someone in mind for a casual sex encounter? What is it about this person that draws me to them?
  3. Why do I want to have casual sex?
  4. What are the boundaries I would need to put into place in order to make this encounter as pleasurable as possible?
  5. What is my confidence level in regularly talking about current STI status and safer sex practices?

Here's the truth: If your answers reveal a pattern where you consistently develop feelings for the person you’re having sex with, casual sex is ly not for you.

It’s also ly not for you if you don’t feel comfortable (regularly!) navigating safer sex conversations.

«Casual sex can be riskier than sex in a monogamous partnership if you don’t know you partner’s current STI status and recent sexual behaviors,» says Berman.

After all, it’s quite possible you’re not the only person your late-night-bang is banging. It’s best to use barriers for all types of sex, but just remember that even with barriers, certain STIs can still spread.

1. Discuss boundaries before your bone.

Laying out expectations about your bond (or lack thereof) before getting down to business can save you a world of indigestion down the line. «Going in with shared expectations about why you’re doing this, as well as what this is, is crucial,» says Fleming.

You might say:

  • «Before we get physical, I just want to be transparent about the fact that I don’t have the emotional capacity for anything serious.»
  • «While I heal from my recent breakup, I’m looking for someone to spend low-pressure time and sexy time with… would you be interested in a friends with benefits situation?»

2. Figure out a text, sext, and sex frequency that works for you.

Your relationship before you start getting naked together will ly play a role here. But frequency and duration of contact is how humans build trust and grow closer. So generally, it’s best to talk only for the purpose of meeting up for your rendezvous.

You might also choose to space out encounters or keep them to long-distance situations. Seeing someone often (and sleeping with them) pumps out all kinds of chemical hormones that can make you feel «addicted» to them.

3. Be honest if you do develop feelings.

You have absolutely nothing to gain by keeping your feelings to yourself or pretending they don't exist. In most cases, feelings only grow with time, so you're doing yourself no favors by getting in deeper with someone who doesn't want what you want.

So, tell them! Yes, it can be scary, but it's worth it for the peace of mind you'll gain after.

You could try saying:

  • «I thought you should know that I've started to you in a romantic way. I think I need to step back, because when I got into this, I didn’t plan for these feelings.»
  • «For the sake of transparency: I can feel myself starting to develop more-than-friends feelings for you, and so I want to press pause on this dynamic for a bit.»

Both approaches let them know how you feel, but don't put any pressure on them to reciprocate—which you only want them to do if they truly feel the same way as you do.

The Bottom Line: At the end of the day, casual sex can be pleasurable, but it's tricky. As long as you stay true to yourself and your heart along the way, you'll be just fine. Promise!

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Источник: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/relationships/a30224236/casual-sex-feelings/

Is Casual Sex Good or Bad for Your Mental Health?

What Is the Impact of Casual Sex on Mental Health?

According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s data, the average age of marriage in the country is rising. As of 2018, men’s average age at first marriage is 29.8. On the other hand, women’s average age at first marriage is 27.8. As the gap between adolescence and marriage widens, it makes sense that uncommitted or “casual” sexual encounters are on the rise.

“Casual Sex”

There are a lot of different words you can use to describe it. Perhaps you say a one-night stand, a hookup, “friends with benefits,” or “Netflix and chill.

” Regardless, all these terms are synonymous with a casual sexual encounter. As casual sex grows in popularity, the question of its effects on an individual’s mental health are a subject of debate.

Different people have put in their opinions or found conflicting data about the impact.

It’s hard to say if casual sex is “good” or “bad.” It’s not really that simple. Several studies conducted over the last 10 years have shown different results. Some studies report that most individuals report an increase in self-confidence. In fact, they’ve shown decrease in depressive symptoms after casual sex.

On the other hand, some reports show the exact opposite. The only consistent findings in these studies has been that, despite what might be commonly believed, women were not more ly to be negatively impacted by casual sex encounters than men.  Men and women can both respond positive or negatively to sexual encounters.

Factors Impacting Your Response to Casual Sex

While there are no clear indicators on whether casual sex is good or bad for your mental health, there are several factors you may want to consider.   your own personal history, personality and beliefs having sex outside of a relationship may be positive or negative.  Here are some things to consider:

Upbringing & Religious Beliefs About Sex

If you were raised with a strict upbringing or with strict religious beliefs that have resulted in your association of sex with shame or guilt, you may be negatively impacted by a casual sexual encounter.

 Some people who grew up in really strict households experience so much guilt after casual sexual encounters that it leads to symptoms of depression.  If having sex outside of a relationship doesn’t fit with how you think of yourself, you may experience what we call cognitive dissonance.

 Perhaps you even have a mini identity crisis or feel disappointed in yourself.

Your Expectations for Casual Sex

If your motives for casual sex are, for instance, to get back at an ex or to please another person, you will ly end up disappointed. On the other hand, some people have a positive experience with Casual Sex.

For instance, if you are wanting to have sex for the pleasure or fun of it. Or perhaps you are choosing to explore your sexuality (in other words, for your own sake). In these situations, you may be less ly to have negative feelings afterwards.

 In fact, some people report feeling more confident or satisfied afterward.

Drugs or Alcohol Before/During Sex

Consumption of drugs or alcohol can lower your inhibitions and potentially cause you to make decisions you later regret.

 For instance, while under the influence of alcohol or other substance, you may participate in unsafe sex or choosing a partner you wouldn’t want to be intimate with sober.

It also can cause you to have gaps in your memory of the experience, or not remember it at all.  Not remembering a sexual encounter can be extremely upsetting.

Casual Sex Isn’t “Right” or “Wrong”

There is no definitive right or wrong answer on how a casual sexual encounter will affect your mental health. Every individual is unique and complex, and how your mental health may or may not be affected is exclusive to you. It’s up to you to decide what will or won’t work best for you.  The key is to know yourself, your values and your motives.

Counseling in Cincinnati, OH

Do you find yourself questioning your sexual behavior, and need someone who can help you clarify your personal values, motivations, needs & goals for sexual relationships? As licensed mental health professional specializing in relationships, I can help.  It’s hard to ask for help sometimes.

However, you can know that when you enter my counseling office you are not going to experience judgment. However, as a trained couples counselor, I understand how complicated romantic & sexual relationships can be.

 And as a therapist who spent years working at a college counseling clinic, I have certainly heard all sides of this topic while counseling college students.  At my Cincinnati counseling clinic, I work with both couples and individuals.

 In addition to relationship counseling, I offer  Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) for depression, anxiety treatment & career counseling. So, if you or a loved one is interested in exploring treatment, please contact me today.  You can get clarity about how to move forward in your romantic life. I can help.

Counseling can help you clarify what you are looking for and help you move forward confidently in all areas of your life.

Источник: https://couplestherapyohio.com/is-casual-sex-good-or-bad-for-your-mental-health/

Does Hookup Culture Impact Mental Health?

What Is the Impact of Casual Sex on Mental Health?

Hookup culture is a relatively new acceptance and encouragement of casual sexual encounters outside of romantic, committed relationships.

The rise of hookup culture can be attributed to many societal shifts, but the somewhat recent waves of feminism have been huge contributors to such a culture change.

The second wave of feminism in the Western world occurred in the early 1960s, and one of the waves’ defining characteristics was the FDA approval of hormonal birth control pills. This gave women more sexual freedom and opportunities for family planning, and it is thought to be related to what is seen today as hookup culture.

Dr. Lisa Wade is a sociologist who is well-known for her explanation and critique on hookup culture and its impact on mental health. Wade focused her research on college students and their culture of sex.

Sex on College Campuses

One significant way hookup culture occurs is on college campuses. Wade found that this new sense of freedom that college students experience combined with the ease of accessibility to parties and substances leaves students feeling as if hookups are “inevitable.”

It is important to note that college students typically define hookups as sexual intercourse whereas many high school students would define hookups as making out. However, when using the term “hookup” many people find that it simply refers to the casual relationship you have with the person you are “hooking up” with.

How does hookup culture impact mental health?

Looking back at college students, research suggests that individuals with depressive symptoms and feelings of loneliness typically experienced a decrease in these feelings when participating in hookup culture.

  Interestingly, however, individuals that originally had fewer depressive symptoms and feelings of loneliness (relative to the more acute students) reported an increase in these feelings after casual sexual engagements.

Pros and Cons of Hookup Culture on Mental Health

There isn’t a definitive answer of whether hookup culture is good or bad for your mental health. Rather, it is important to explore both sides and follow your personal values and morals when making any decisions about sexual relationships.


  1. Being in a casual sexual relationship – long term or short term – can help someone explore their sexual interests. The beauty of hookup culture is if you are not sexually compatible with the person, you do not need to engage in sexual activity with them again. Hookup culture can remove the pressures that men and women may feel to stay with someone when they are not sexually compatible. This can help reduce anxiety and shame related to sexual discomfort.
  1. Sex is a great way to decrease mental health symptoms such as anxiety and depression. An orgasm releases feel good neurotransmitters in the brain, and sex should be enjoyable!  Casual sex allows people to enjoy the benefits of sex without the serious commitment of a long-term intimate relationship.


  1. Casual sexual encounters require that the people involved are safe and responsible. Having multiple sexual partners increases the chances of contracting an STI so practicing safe sex is an important part of participating in hookup culture. While many STIs are preventable and/or curable, the stigma associated with STIs and lack of education on treatments can have negative effects on young people’s mental health.
  1. Some people struggle with differentiating between their sexual desires and their romantic desires. Relationships between hookup partners can become complicated if one person becomes emotionally attached and the other does not. This can have negative effects on one’s self-esteem and may increase stress and anxiety.
  1. Specifically on college campuses, many hookups take place at parties and/or in the presence of drugs and alcohol. Being under the influence of any substance prevents someone from giving or obtaining proper consent. Sexual trauma can take a huge toll on someone’s mental health, and it is critical that if you choose to engage in casual sexual encounters, you do so in a safe, consensual manner.

Overall, who you choose to engage in sexual activity with is ultimately your choice. There is no right or wrong when it comes to sex. Hookup culture has both pros and cons, so making safe, informed decisions can help protect your physical, mental, and sexual health.

Jessie is a junior at the University of Miami (FL) who is thrilled to be an intern for the 2021 Psychotherapy Internship Program. Currently working towards a Bachelor of Science in Public Health and Psychology, she hopes to become a clinical psychologist and a certified sex therapist. She is passionate about empowering women to speak up in a professional and a personal setting



Источник: https://www.modernintimacy.com/does-hookup-culture-impact-mental-health/

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