February 28th, 2015
In the classic Seinfeld episode entitled “The Abstinence”, one of the main characters abstains from sex and gradually feels smarter and better focused. The other character also abstains from sex but winds up being more unfocused and forgetting things. Naturally in the context of a television sitcom, it was hilarious. But in the real world, the impact of sex on our brains is a classic topic that people have long publicly or privately wondered about: does having sex make us dumber or smarter?
It has been acknowledged for some time that sexual activity in itself has many biological benefits. Reducing stress, improved mood, and yes there is even that little boost from getting some cardiovascular exercise. But what about our brains? According to research published in the fall of 2012 by a group from the University of Amsterdam, sexual gratification can promote brain growth. A similar conclusion that was reached by a Princeton team in 2010 who studied brain cell growth in sexuality active lab rats vs those that were not having sex. When administering tests to human participants that required problem solving, UvA researchers reported better critical thinking from those who had sex on their mind. So having sex might be good for your brain, but apparently thinking about sex has some useful side effects as well.
The correlation may not come as a huge surprise, as we know that unpleasant experiences can have a detrimental effect on the brain, why wouldn’t a positive experience (assuming it is a pleasant experience) have beneficial effects. However, we also know that there is a such thing as sex addiction or having too much euphoria that can take things from happy and relaxed to a more detrimental state. So the research about brain growth connected to sex is certainly food for thought and future experiments. Sex can make you smarter, just be careful while on your quest for enlightenment.