Victoria Joy | Contributing Writer | Thursday, 17 March 2016

Your Top Sex Questions Answered: No Bullshit

Your Top Sex Questions Answered: No Bullshit

The Debrief: Does sex make you happy? Does it induce periods? Does sex help you lose weight? All your top sex questions answered

We’ve never talked more openly about sex. Who’s having it, how to do it, when it goes wrong. With our friends, colleagues, partners, Twitter followers.

And yet, there are obviously some questions that we’re not asking IRL, or at least, some that we’re not satisfied can be answered by anyone we come into contact with on the daily. Those questions that we’re all tip-tapping into the search box on our phones whenever there’s a lull in Pretty Little Liars (oh, please) or we get a seat on the bus with no-one looking over our shoulder.

We’ve taken the top searches around the mysteries of sex, and answered them properly, using bona fide science facts. Read on… then you can use your Google time more productively (e.g. borrowmydoggy.com).

Does sex hurt?

The short answer? Yes, sometimes. The longer answer? Unless you’re doing it with a particularly well-endowed man, or didn’t feel that up for it in the first place, it shouldn’t. And if it does, you need to find out why. 'Some degree of pain, or rather discomfort, during sex can be normal and may simply relate to position, inadequate lubrication or a discrepancy in size between you and your partner,' explains Nick Raine Fenning, Medical Director at Nurture Fertility. 'But if you’re experiencing regular pain, deeper in the pelvis, it could relate to a gynaecological problem like chronic inflammation, scar tissue, cysts on the ovaries or endometriosis,' he explains. Not sure when to worry? According to Nick, if you experience pain for more than 6 months on the trot and/or struggle with heavy, painful periods, see your GP or a gynaecologist for a scan.

Does sex help headaches?

Mounting your other half will undoubtedly feel like the last thing you want to do in the throes of a migraine, but if you’re going to lie down in a darkened room, you may as well get a shag out of it. Even science says so: the results of a 2013 observational study (which isn’t as dirty as it sounds) concluded that of those participants that got their end away (regardless of relationship status or sex position) while suffering from a migraine or cluster headache, 70% reported relief from migraine pain and 91% relief from a cluster headache. The team’s thinking is that, because an orgasm triggers the release of endorphins, through the central nervous system, they act as natural painkillers to reduce, or even kill off, head pain.

Does sex help you lose weight?

How much weight are we talking here? Of course, there’s an argument that any kind of physical activity will up your daily calorie burn – awkward thrusting included – facilitating that holy grail of weight loss: the elusive calorie deficit. But if you’re hoping to sack off your twice-weekly Body Pump routine in favour of between-the-sheets sessions, it ain’t no contest. In a recent study, researchers from Canada hooked sexually-active couples up with heart-rate sensors (come on, we can’t all be doctors and lawyers) and discovered the average calorie burn was 100 calories per 30 minutes: in other words, equivalent to playing doubles tennis or walking uphill. If your own bump and grinds don’t actually last half an hour (the struggle is real) or you let him do most of the grunt work, you’re looking at working up even less of a sweat. 

Does sex make you happy?

Well, yeah, obviously, unless you hook up with a dud. But what of feeling that warm, fuzzy sensation long after you’ve come? Well, that’s a yes, yes, YES! (It was time.)

Despite there being little research to ultimately prove having sex will leave you feeling happier than before, scientists are pretty certain the link is legit, and is an evolutionary one. Essentially, the areas of the brain that are activated during mating (remember, we’re talking cavemen here) are very similar to those that increase in activity during other situations that we deem rewarding i.e. CHOCOLATE BINGE TIME. It’s all down to hormones again – namely dopamine and oxytocin – which are categorised as feel-good hormones and surge in production during sex and especially after climax.

Another case for sex ecstasy lasting long-time is the solid science that proves those who have straight sex (the research sadly only looked into penis/vagina combos) have healthy blood pressure rates and are more capable of dealing with stressful situations than those who don’t get down as often. It’s basically GP-approved. 

Does sex induce periods?

The key is in the coming. Sex without an orgasm does nada, but in those glorious post-climax moments, the blood flow to the vagina increases and it also relaxes, both of which can stimulate its contraction and trigger the shedding of the uterus lining. Cue, your period. 

In tampon territory already? Well, get over the fact that you might need to change the sheets and embrace sexy times at this stage of your cycle, because it could actually deliver as much pain relief as your daily ibuprofen intake. Yep, what you might not know is that in the throes of orgasm, your vagina and the surrounding areas are privy to a surge of blood, which reduces localised cramping. Plus, those lovely hormones we mentioned earlier get their pain-relieving on, reducing the intensity and dull aches associated with the menstrual throbbing we’ve all come to know and love. 

Does sex help you sleep?

Your fellow women seem to think so. A survey of UK females showed that one in six of us report better quality and longer sleep after having sex. We like those odds. There’s, erm, hard science to back up the claims, too. Research published in the Journal of Women’s Health found that an increase in estrogen levels (a natural spike triggered every time a woman indulges in a spot of how’s your father) could improve an individual’s REM cycle - which essentially means a deeper, more refreshing sleep. Those trusty mood hormones also have a part to play. A natural boost in oxytocin, matched with a decrease in the stress hormone cortisol, makes for sleeping soundly post-sex, just as you do after a good gym session.   

Like this? You may also be interested in:

All The Questions You've Ever Wanted To Ask A Sex Therapist: Answered

1 In 10 Of Us Don't Think One-Night Stands Count As Cheating

I Ate Sex Dust For A Week In Order To Boost My Libido

Follow Victoria on Twitter @spreadingthejoy

Tags: Sex O\'Clock, Sex Ed