You probably don't need science to tell you that sex can make you feel happy. A new study, however, suggests that the good vibes that hit you in the moment may continue long after you've caught your breath. Researchers at Florida State University found that a single romp can keep couples feeling sexually satisfied for up to 48 hours, and the so-called "afterglow" effect could even help partners stick together. (It could also give us insight into why the friskiest people also seem to work harder and enjoy their jobs more.)
To reach this conclusion, FSU psychology professor Andrea Meltzer reviewed two studies: one with 96 newlyweds in Texas, and another with 118 couples in Northern Florida; all but one of the couples were heterosexual. Meltzer and her team hypothesized that getting it on would lead to a short-term spike in sexual satisfaction. That, in turn, could help maintain couples' bonds between romps and boost their long-term relationship satisfaction.
They looked at data from diaries that newlyweds filled out before bed for two weeks—everyone journaled at least three days in a row. Participants were asked to record whether or not they had sex with their partner that day and to rate their satisfaction with their sex life, relationship, marriage, and partner on a scale of one to seven—one being the lowest. Everyone rated their marital satisfaction at the start of the study and again after four or six months.
Over the two-week period, subjects reported doing the deed an average of four days. Interestingly, Meltzer and her team found that having sex wasn't only linked with sexual satisfaction on the day it went down, but that people felt gratified for a full 48 hours post-coitus. The effect was consistent even after accounting for age, gender, relationship length, sex frequency, and personality traits.
While marital satisfaction on the whole decreased between the initial and follow-up evaluations, couples that experienced relatively high levels of post-sex euphoria were generally more satisfied with their marriages from the start and experienced less intense declines in the first four to six months as husband and wife.
The studies only included young newlyweds, but there's no reason to think the 48-hour afterglow wouldn't apply to couples who've been together longer. Of course, you might want to reset the clock sooner—just to be safe.
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