Regular sex is linked to a better memory in women, new research finds.
Other research has also hinted that the same may well be true for men.
The theory is that regular sex helps to grow new brain cells in the region of the brain linked to memory.
The type of memory tested in the study was working memory.
Working memory is our ability to hold and process information in the conscious mind.
It is considered one of the most important aspects of memory.
For the new research, 78 young women were asked about their sex lives and given memory tests.
The memory tests involved looking at faces and words to recall them later.
The results showed that women who had more frequent sex had better scores on the memory tests.
The link to sex was particularly strong for remembering words.
The theory is that sex helps to boost neurogenesis (growth of new brain cells) in the hippocampus (region of the brain vital to memory.
The study’s authors write:
“Neurogenesis in the hippocampus is higher in those women with a higher frequency of intercourse.
These results suggest sex may indeed have beneficial effects on memory function in healthy young women.
They support the hypothesis that frequency of sex is positively associated with memory scores.”
Sex may boost the levels of neurotransmitters in the brain, which in turn helps the growth of brain cells in the hippocampus.
The physical exertion involved in sex, along with increased blood flow to the brain, could also be important to boosting memory.
Sex and dementia
This is not the first time sex has been linked to brain benefits.
Previous research has also found that men and women in mid- to later life who are more sexually active have a lower risk of dementia (Wright & Jenks, 2016).
Both men and women in that study scored better on word challenges designed to test memory.
About the author
Psychologist, Jeremy Dean, PhD is the founder and author of PsyBlog. He holds a doctorate in psychology from University College London and two other advanced degrees in psychology.
He has been writing about scientific research on PsyBlog since 2004. He is also the author of the book “Making Habits, Breaking Habits” (Da Capo, 2003) and several ebooks:
- Accept Yourself: How to feel a profound sense of warmth and self-compassion
- The Anxiety Plan: 42 Strategies For Worry, Phobias, OCD and Panic
- Spark: 17 Steps That Will Boost Your Motivation For Anything
- Activate: How To Find Joy Again By Changing What You Do
The study was published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior (Maunder et al., 2017).