Importance Of Sex In A Relationship & Tips To Improve

✔ Research-backed

If a relationship is a house, it is built with bricks of love, respect, emotions, and trust. But did you know that sex is also one of the important bricks to keep the house solid and sturdy? The importance of sex in a relationship depends entirely upon the couple. It helps them bond intimately and makes them feel one.

But how significant is physical intimacy in a relationship? Can a relationship stand stable without sex, or will it start to wobble? To understand this better, let’s explore the importance and benefits of sex in this article and find ways to enhance it in a relationship.

In This Article

How Important Is Sex In A Relationship?

Happy couple

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Chemistry and physical attraction are important for a relationship, and sex is a way of showing how attracted you feel to your partner. It also expresses love and affection. However, physical attraction is temporary and fades with time. The need to have sex may also decline. For a lasting romance, a couple must rely on other important factors to sustain their bond.

So, can you be in a relationship without sex? No, and yes.

No, because the need for sex is often determined by hormones in our body. For instance, women show greater need for sex during their ovulatory phase and their sex drive sees a drop during their menstrual cycles (1). Similarly, the testosterone levels in a male body dictate a man’s sexual needs and desires (2). But hormones are not really the driving factor of a relationship.

Yes, because sex is more than just a physical activity. Engaging in sex releases the neuropeptide oxytocin also known as the ‘trust hormone,’ which increases trust between a couple (3). Moreover, the afterglow or the extreme satisfaction after a pleasurable activity is said to last as long as two days for some couples (4). Longer the sexual afterglow, more is satisfaction derived from a relationship.

All in all, sex offers certain benefits and physical intimacy deepens the bond over a period of time.


protip_icon Did you know?
Crying after sex is normal and quite common. It is known as post-coital dysphoria (PCD), which refers to the intense feeling of sadness, distress, anger, tearfulness, and irritability occurring after consensual sexual activity (5).

Why Is Sex Important In A Relationship?

Happy couple in bed

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Sex makes you connect with your partner and offers various physical and psychological benefits. Let’s look at some of them to understand the importance of sex in a relationship.

1. Improves general well-being

According to research, couples who engaged in weekly sex exhibited higher levels of well-being as compared to couples who had sex only once a month (6).

2. Keeps the heart healthy

Sex improves sleep quality, reduces stress, lowers anxiety and depression, and brings down blood pressure. Men and women who have contentful sex are less likely to experience any heart issues (7).

3. Alleviates pain

Sex is a physical activity that causes the release of endorphins, which can help relieve body pain. Individuals who suffer from frequent headaches or migraine can find some relief with orgasm or sex (8) (9).

4. Relieves stress

Endorphins and oxytocin are released during sex. Endorphins are the brain’s feel-good neurotransmitter, while oxytocin is the love hormone. Together, these hormones can lower the body’s stress hormone called cortisol (10) (11).

5. Improves sleep

Research indicates that orgasm releases oxytocin and prolactin hormone and caps the cortisol, enabling men and women to enjoy better sleep (12).

Michael Santonato, a writer and relationship enthusiast, shares what sex means for him. He says, “It wasn’t long ago I discovered the levels or differing degrees of amazing sex. I’ve always enjoyed sex (the key to a great relationship.) I enjoy romance, intimacy, foreplay, sex, and all aspects of physical connection. And I receive a lot of satisfaction from pleasing my partner and being pleased. You should too! (Another Key to great intimacy)… I’ve always been sexually active and for me, it’s an important part of loving someone. Expressing yourself sexually with your partner, it’s a huge part of expressing your love (i).”

Is Sex More Important To A Man Or A Woman In A Relationship?

Couple cuddling

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For years, it was believed that men have higher testosterone levels than women, so they have a stronger desire for sex. However, studies have shown that it is not entirely true.

Sex drive or libido in both men and women can be affected by various factors such as lifestyle, medical history, medications, and hormone levels. Sexual compatibility with a partner, mental health, stress, and depression also impact libido (13). The need for sex may be correlated to gender, but there is no concrete evidence that it is more critical to one than the other.

protip_icon Research finds
Practicing Kegel exercises help postmenopausal women derive better arousal, orgasm, and satisfaction in sex (14).

How To Improve Your Sex Life?

Couple hugging each other

Image: Shutterstock

To improve your sex life, identify what is missing or what can be done to add a spark.

1. Communicate your feelings

The first step towards a healthy sex life is good communication. Have an open and honest chat with your partner regarding your expectations in the bedroom. Give them a chance to share their suggestions and listen to them without criticism or ridicule.

Santonato talks about the importance of communication in a relationship. He elucidates, “Was it me? Was it her? Was it our connection? I believe so. I believe it was our deep, deep connection to each other, which we nurtured and explored over time. (What real intimacy is all about!) We talked because communication is intimacy. We were very comfortable with each other, which made intimacy so much more beneficial to both people.”

2. Accommodate your partner’s preferences

Your idea of good sex can be different from your partner’s opinion. But for a healthy sex life, it is crucial for both partners to feel fulfilled and content in the bedroom. So, be prepared at least to give a try to your partner’s suggestions. Don’t dismiss their ideas without considering them once.

3. Do your research

The internet is overflowing with material about ways to get experimental in bed. Check out what suits your preference and share the same with your partner. Try something new to break the monotony. If things go great, it might revive the lost excitement in you and your partner.

Santonato writes, “I had a couple of tantric experiences with someone who was experienced in that area when I wasn’t. It did a lot for me! I was surprised by how great it actually was! I read some tantra books quickly. And shortly after, I had a brand new kind of sexual experience with another person! WOW!! A fully connected, new, expansive, deeply sensational experience! And I’ve since been able to discover it more and more, and share it more and more with my partner since then.”

4. Consume libido-boosting foods

According to research, foods such as strawberries, avocados, and raw oysters contain vitamins and other nutrients that could boost libido in both men and women (15).

5. Try longer foreplay

When you or your partner is not interested in doing the deed, consider incorporating playfulness through foreplay or indulging in intimate touching. Some parts of your body feel more sensitive than others. Ask your partner to touch, tickle, or kiss those sensitive areas and enjoy the warmth and tenderness of their touch.

6. Indulge in sexting or dirty talk

Try to create suspense or excitement for the evening by sexting your partner during the day. Before getting in bed, heighten the excitement with dirty talk. Tell your partner how you intend to satisfy them and see how the thought and mental images drive them crazy.

7. Cuddle and talk

Revel in the afterglow by cuddling and trying pillow talk. Tell your partner what you like and share your fantasies. Reveal intimate details and ask them to share wild ideas. This can strengthen your bond and make you want to spend more time together.

8. Seek professional help

If your efforts do not yield substantial results, try seeking professional help. You can consult a qualified sex therapist to help you and your partner work your way through the bedroom. Their insights can help you look at your relationship differently and better understand each other.

Can A Relationship Last Without Sex?

Though sex is perceived as an important factor in a relationship, it is not an absolute necessity. A relationship can definitely last without it as long as there is emotional intimacy and the partners are on the same page. There are several instances of happy, healthy, and romantic relationships where sex is absent due to factors such as a medical condition (e.g., chronic pain), low libido, identifying as asexual, or abstinence from sex before marriage. If there is love, mutual respect, attraction, understanding, and loyalty, a lack of sex may not be a hurdle for the smooth progression of a relationship.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. How often should a couple have sex?

There is no set number of times when a couple should get intimate. It differs for each couple and depends on age, physical fitness, sex drive, and mutual consent.

2. When should I have sex in a relationship?

A couple who has just met could wait for a few dates or weeks before having sex. However, there is no rule about the right time. The couple’s choice depends on how comfortable they are with each other.

3. Why do I have sex issues in a relationship?

Sex is an intimate activity driven by physical and psychological factors. Problems in a person’s sex life arise when you and your partner are not on the same page. Health ailments, lack of compatibility, or low sex drive also cause poor sex life.

Sex is healthy and fun. It is exciting and even therapeutic. It helps a couple to cultivate closeness and assists couples in attaining a deeper understanding of one another. However, relationships can get too complex to rely on only one aspect. Although sex is important for a happy relationship, it is not the only binding factor. Nonetheless, it offers amazing health benefits for good mental and physical health. If your sex life seems to lack luster, it is time you try some effective measures to get out of the dull period.

Infographic: Ways To Add Spark To Your Sex Life

Every couple experiences a downtime in their sex life. It is not a serious issue. You and your partner can use simple tips to bring back the lost excitement and infuse pleasure in your bedroom. Look at this infographic for tips to improve your sex life.

tips to improve sex life in a relationship (infographic)

Illustration: Momjunction Design Team

Key Pointers

  • Sex is most important in the initial stages of a relationship for the couple to bond well and better understand one another.
  • Men and women both desire sex. Their sex drive depends on their physical and mental health and sexual compatibility with their partner.
  • Open and honest communication, willingness to experiment, and tender love and care can help boost sex life.
How important is sex in a relationship_illustration

Image: Dall·E/MomJunction Design Team

Personal Experience: Source

References

MomJunction's articles are written after analyzing the research works of expert authors and institutions. Our references consist of resources established by authorities in their respective fields. You can learn more about the authenticity of the information we present in our editorial policy.
  1. Salvatore Caruso et al.; (2014); Do hormones influence women’s sex? Sexual activity over the menstrual cycle.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/24344697/
  2. Giovanni Corona et al.; (2016); Endocrinologic Control of Men’s Sexual Desire and Arousal/Erection.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/26944463/
  3. Navneet Magon and Sanjay Kalra; (2011); The orgasmic history of oxytocin: Love lust and labor.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183515/
  4. Andrea L. Meltzer et al.; (2017); Quantifying the Sexual Afterglow: The Lingering Benefits of Sex and Their Implications for Pair-Bonded Relationships.
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/315321926_Quantifying_the_Sexual_Afterglow_The_Lingering_Benefits_of_Sex_and_Their_Implications_for_Pair-Bonded_Relationships
  5. Joel Maczkowiack and Robert D Schweitzer; (2019); Postcoital Dysphoria: Prevalence and Correlates Among Males.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30040588/
  6. Anik Debrot et al.; (2017); More Than Just Sex: Affection Mediates the Association Between Sexual Activity and Well-Being.
    https://www.researchgate.net/publication/312260169_More_Than_Just_Sex_Affection_Mediates_the_Association_Between_Sexual_Activity_and_Well-Being
  7. Is Sex Dangerous If You Have Heart Diseases?
    https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/is-sex-dangerous-if-you-have-heart-disease
  8. Lara Lakhsassi et al.; (2022); The influence of sexual arousal on subjective pain intensity during a cold pressor test in women.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/36197910/
  9. Anke Hambach et al.; (2013); The impact of sexual activity on idiopathic headaches: an observational study.
    https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23430983/
  10. Navneet Magon and Sanjay Kalra; (2011); The orgasmic history of oxytocin: Love lust and labor.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3183515/
  11. Yang Li et al.; (2018); Exploring the mutual regulation between oxytocin and cortisol as a marker of resilience.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6442937/
  12. Michele Lastella et al.; (2019); Sex and Sleep: Perceptions of Sex as a Sleep Promoting Behavior in the General Adult Population.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6409294
  13. Libido.
    https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/healthyliving/libido
  14. Yi-Chen Huang and Ke-Vin Chang (2022); Kegel Exercises.
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK555898/
  15. Food for Your Libido: A Valentine’s Diet to Boost Your Sex Drive.
    https://www.pennmedicine.org/updates/blogs/health-and-wellness/2017/february/food-for-libido
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Amira Martin

Amira MartinLicensed Clinical Social Worker

Amira Martin is a licensed clinical social worker practicing in New York. Having done her master’s degree from the Silberman School of Social Work at Hunter College in 2002, she gained over 20 years of experience working with adults and children. Amira is an adjunct lecturer at the Columbia University School of Social Work and the founder of Amira for...read full bio