The cure for stress? S-e-x

At least, according to Valerie Frankel in Self:

“Stress makes you tired, distracted and unmotivated to do anything, much less have sex,” says Laura Berman, Ph.D., director of the Berman Center for women’s sexual health in Chicago. “When a woman is stressed, the hormonal changes in her body trigger a chemical reaction causing sex hormone–binding globulin to bind with testosterone cells, so they’re unavailable for libido and sexual response.”

And, in a pattern familiar to many women, sexlessness due to stress makes you more tense and even less sexual. Furthermore, a study at the University of Gottingen in Germany found that people who do it less often tend to take on more work to compensate for their frustration. And the increased labor results in—you guessed it—even less sex.

Call it a catch-69, the cruel irony that a proven cure for stress — a hot sex life — is exactly what stress destroys. Connecting with a partner (and I mean physically) is a balm for the body.

“Being in an intimate relationship correlates to healing faster, getting sick less often and living longer,” says James Coan, Ph.D., professor of psychology at the University of Virginia in Charlottesville. “Good relationships offset tension in daily life.” Anxiety spikes blood pressure, which hobbles the immune system. “But when you have sex, you release feel-good hormones, including oxytocin and endorphins,” Coan adds. Eventually, you begin to associate your partner with those positive feelings, and he becomes someone you trust to be your soother during tough times.

All this had me scratching my head, wondering, Can a relationship be “good” without good sex? Or is sex the glue?

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