10 December 2012
Just How Important Is Sex, Really?
Humans are sexual beings. Regardless, if we are young or old, female or male, American or Chinese, sex is an integral part of what we do and who we are. Next to sleeping and eating, it seems that it is one of the most important drives we have as humans. It takes up so much of our time in thought and behavior that it sometimes seems that every facet of our life revolves around this to some extent. Let us be realistic, we all want it and we all need it. It provides various health benefits, a boost of confidence, and overall happiness. Unlike animals, sex is so much more than a means of reproduction. Sex is emotional. Sex is communicative. Sex is fun. Sex is natural. With this being said, I believe sex is vital for a person. Abraham Maslow’s hierarchy of needs emphasizes the importance of self-actualization. This theory is normally seen as a pyramid broken into five components, the most basic needs being in bottom and the most complex needs being towards the top of the pyramid. The pyramid consists of physiological needs, safety needs, belongingness and love needs, esteem needs and finally self-actualization (collegenet.com). One must fulfill the most basic needs before progressing on to meet higher levels of growth. Once these needs have been satisfied, one is able to reach the highest level being self-actualization. Along with the most basic needs such as food, water, and shelter, Maslow included sex. Maslow’s hierarchy theory demonstrates that for a person to become self-actualized, that person must have sex whether it is for procreation or recreation. Aside from the physiological need for sex in the first level of the hierarchy, Maslow also points out the need for sexual intimacy in the third level of the pyramid. Unlike sex, sexually intimacy breaks into much more than the act of having sex. According to the-intimate-couple.com, sexually intimacy consists of communication, caring, commitment, and common values. Communication allows topics to be openly discussed. An example of this would be, one partner having no interest in having sex. Another example would also be, having the freedom to share sexual fantasies with your partner. With communication both partners can openly share what they think about their sex life, as well as every other part of their lives. The-intimate-couple also stated, “Caring for your partner means providing them with the sexual experience that pleases them, on their terms, in their way, in their time frame”, this means one taking the time to consider the needs and desires of their partner instead of focusing on their own. Commitment to sexual intimacy in relationship involves doing what is necessary to achieve that intimacy, and eliminating whatever impedes it. Commitment also translates into time: one must prioritize their time for sex since the busyness of one’s life can get in the way. Common values are also necessary for sexual intimacy. Intimacy cannot be produced when values held by the partners are in conflict. For example, if you and your partner have major differences in deeply held religious convictions, then compatibility reaches an impasse.
Sex provides health benefits such as reduction of stress, minimization of pain, sounder sleep, among many other benefits. People who engage in intercourse responded better to stress than those who engage in other sexual behaviors or abstain. Research from the University of the West of Scotland reveals that “people who had intercourse at least once over two weeks were better able to manage stressful situations “(abcnews.go.com). This means that if a person has a big job interview, a speech, or something that can cause stress the next day, having sex can lower their stress and anxiety which in the end may result with a much better performance. Why take a Tylenol or a Midol, when having sex can reduce that headache or backache? While having sex, one’s body releases oxytocin. Oxytocin boosts one’s endorphins which closely resembles morphine, and effectively relieves pain (webmd.com). We all have had those sleepless nights where we are tossing and turning in our beds. Well, there is a solution for this problem, and it is having sex. Aside from pain relief, oxytocin also promotes better sleep (webmd.com). Better sleep, promotes a better you. There is nothing sexy about sneezing, wheezing, or having that runny-nose look. But according to researchers at Wilkes University, people who are sexually active and have sex were found to have higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin. This antibody boosts the immune system and helps combat diseases and fight colds and flues (abcnews.go.com). Want to say money and get fit? Save that 20 dollar monthly fee from the gym and go have sex. Thirty minutes of sex burns from 85 calories to 250 calories. Although that may not sound like much, it eventually adds up. 42 half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, which is more than enough to lose a pound. If you double up, you could drop that pound in 21 hour-long sessions. As a matter of fact, according to a study published in The American Journal of Cardiology, cardiologists consider sexual activity comparable to a modest workout on a treadmill.
Being sexually active boosts one’s self-esteem. Researchers from the University of Texas concluded that there are more than 230 reasons why people have sex, and boosting self-esteem was one of those reasons (utexas.edu). Sex is beneficial for one’s self-esteem when it’s consciously done to affirm one’s values and needs: intimacy, desirability, connection, and even pleasure (postmasculine.com). It can otherwise be harmful when it passes the point of affirmation and connection and becomes another form of escapism and objectification (postmasculine.com). One’s self esteem does also affect their sex life. According to momlogic.com “many times, when your self-esteem suffers, so does your sex life.” Insecurity can be one of the most unattractive traits in a person. Momlogic.com also states “A man can sense insecurity a mile away and, though your husband may try his best to help you realize just how beautiful and perfect you are, if you don't snap out of it, he'll begin to see what you see.” Meaning that a man will always try to see the best in a woman, but if this woman only looks down upon herself, he will also begin to see her flaws. When speaking in regards to a relationship, sex may not be the most important factor, but, one cannot deny that it is vital in one form or another. Many couples seem to struggle to keep passion alive in their relationship. And it's no wonder: There are various factors that wreak havoc on their sex lives - from busy schedules to work to the stresses of the day. Without physical intimacy, what's left to hold a relationship together? Plenty, one would think: shared history, family, friendship, or maybe companionship; but is that enough? In a relationship, sex brings intimacy, trust and closeness between the partners. Without those components, a relationship, much less a marriage can succeed. A survey done by USA TODAY concluded that 75 % of wives ages 18-49, say that a good sex life with their spouse is “very or extremely important”; 16% say it is “somewhat important” (usatoday.com). Denise A. Donnelly, associate professor of sociology at Georgia State University, stated in an interview done by the New York Times that couples in a sexless relationship, generally are less happy. Donnelly’s studies have also concluded that couples in a sexless marriage are more likely to get a divorce (nytimes.com). It is obvious that sex, intimacy, and happiness do go hand in hand.
Having sex maybe all fun and great, but one must have sex in a responsible manner. There may be consequences to having sex such as unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. To begin, one must be extremely precautious with whom they are having sex. Casual sex or one-night stands may be seem like fun, but it is never safe to “knock boots” with a person whom you do not know. It is very important for one to be aware of their partner’s sexual history and to be sure that both you and your sexual are STD free. Sexually transmitted diseases are spread by sexual contact involving the genitals, mouth, or rectum, and can also be spread from a pregnant woman to her fetus before or during delivery (webmd.com). STDs, which affect both men and women, are a worldwide public health concern. Although most STDs can be cured, some cannot, including HIV, genital herpes, and human papillomavirus (HPV), which can cause genital warts. STDs can be spread by people who don't know they are infected. Protection such as condoms must be every time you have sex, including oral sex until you are sure you and your partner are not infected with an STD. Condoms and other forms of contraceptives do not only protect against sexually transmitted diseases as well as unwanted pregnancies. In the United States, almost half of all pregnancies are unintended. Yet, there are various forms of contraceptives such as birth control pills, the birth control patch (Ortho Evra), the birth control shot (Depo-Provera), birth control vaginal ring (Nuvaring), as well as a few others there available to prevent pregnancies. One must always be sure to be protected. A moment of pleasure may lead to a lifetime of regret.
Sex is vital and we are all sexual beings. As humans, it is undeniable to say that we do not want it, that we do not need it, or that we do not think about it. Sex is a basic component of our lives and as humans to reach our self-actualization we must have sex. Sex provides various benefits, ranging from intimacy between partners to health benefits to a boost of confidence and overall happiness. Although I do advocate people becoming sexually active and having sex on regular basis, I do not advocate having unsafe sex. One must remember that sex can come with consequences. But if one takes into consideration all of the various forms of contraceptives, sex can be great. In the words of John Callahan “Sex is like air; it's not important unless you aren't getting any.”
"10 Suprising Health Benefits of Having Sex." Http://www.webmd.com/. N.p., n.d. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. <http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/guide/10-surprising-health-benefits-of-sex>. "7 Hidden Health Benefits of Sex." Http//:abcnews.com. N.p., 5 Mar. 2012. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. <http://abcnews.go.com/Health/Wellness/hidden-health-benefits-sex/story?id=16278890>. "75% of Married Women Say Sex Is 'very Important'" Http://www.usatoday.com/. N.p., 7 Feb. 2012. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. <http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/health/wellness/marriage/story/2012-02-07/75-of-married-women-say-sex-is-very-important/52993576/1>. "Bad Self-Esteem = Bad Sex." Http//:www.momlogic.com. N.p., 9 Mar. 2009. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. <http://www.momlogic.com/2009/03/self-esteem_and_sex.php>. "Does Sex Increase Your Self-Esteem." Http://www.postmasculine.com/. N.p., 10 Sept. 2012. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. <http://postmasculine.com/does-sex-increase-your-self-esteem>. "Sex Is a Basic Need?" CollegeNET.com. N.p., 10 Jan. 2010. Web. 09 Dec. 2012. <http://www.collegenet.com/elect/app/app?service=external/Forum>. "When Sex Leaves The Marriage." Http://www.nytimes.com/. N.p., 3 Jan. 2009. Web. 9 Dec. 2012. <http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/06/03/when-sex-leaves-the-marriage/>. "Why Do People Have Sex? Researchers Explore 237 Reasons." Http//:www.utexas.edu. N.p., 31 July 2007. Web. 9 Dec. 2012.