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Study: Sex Can Make You Smarter, Less Depressed

Scientists say getting it on is good for the brain.

By Kristin Wong Aug 21, 2012 3:22PM
Photo: Getty ImagesDespite that episode of Seinfeld in which George Costanza has a surge of cognitive function after abstaining from sex, scientists seem to think getting busy is actually what boosts brainpower.

Research shows that people who have lust on the brain perform better when presented with analytical problem solving assignments. What's more, scientists have also found that sex bolsters brain growth and can reduce depression.

Recently, Dr. Jens Forster of the University of Amsterdam led a study in which participants were presented with a series of critical thinking problems. Forster found that lustfully-minded subjects performed better than participants who didn't have sex on the brain.

In Jesse Bering's book, Why Is the Penis Shaped Like That? And Other Reflections on Being Human, he references this research and also discusses studies performed by Gordon Gallup, a psychologist at the University of Albany.

According to Bering, a "snapshot" of Gallup's recent research shows that "semen-exposed women perform better on concentration and cognitive tasks." Interestingly, Gallup's findings support a Princeton study that measured the cognitive function of sexually active rats.

In the Princeton experiment, scientists introduced adult male rats to sexually receptive female rats. Researchers then compared the brain function of the sexually active rats to that of virgin rats. The results? The sexually active rats experienced a growth in brain cells.

But Gallup's research is a bit different, as he's not just studying the health benefits of sex, but semen in particular. And his research, while valid, has not been without controversy.

In 2002, Gallup attracted media attention when he studied the mood-enhancing chemicals in semen. Bering lists these in his book:

"Perhaps the most striking of these compounds is the bundle of mood-enhancing chemicals in semen. Such anxiolytic chemicals include, but are by no means limited to, cortisol (known to increase affection), estrone (which elevates mood), prolactin (a natural antidepressant), oxytocin (also elevates mood), thyrotropin-releasing hormone (another antidepressant), melatonin (a sleep-inducing agent), and even serotonin (perhaps the best-known antidepressant neurotransmitter)."

With this knowledge, Gallup studied the antidepressant properties of semen and found that women who had regular unprotected sex indeed showed less depressive symptoms than those who used condoms. After the study was released, Gallup clarified:

"I want to make it clear that we are not advocating that people abstain from using condoms, clearly an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease would more than offset any advantageous psychological effects of semen."

In short, the consequences of unprotected sex are probably not worth it.

Getting back to sex and intelligence, this is an area that seems to intrigue scientists. In yet another experiment, German sex researcher Warner Habermehl also found that sexual activity stimulates the brain. He conducted a study among college students and discovered that participants who were having regular sex registered far more brain activity than those who weren't. The findings led Habermehl to assert:

“Sex makes you more intelligent in that experiences are collected that can be used later on in areas of your life not linked to sex."

Good news for the sexually active among us. Just remember: Smart sex is safe sex.

Photo: Getty Images

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90Comments
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Great, now you're gonna get a bunch of horny little teenager boys jizzing onto girls at an emo concert and saying it's for their own mental wellbeing.
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This is a very confused article. It conflates many things. For example, it confuses sex in the mind or on the brain with the actual act of sex. Obviously, one can be thinking about sex and yet not having it. Obviously, one can also be having sex but not even thinking about it. It's not clear at all that simply thinking about sex is good for the brain and for depressive symptoms because all the evidence provided was for actual sex, not simply thinking about it.  

But if sex is really good for intelligence, the author must be an old virgin. 
Aug 22, 2012 12:13AM
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I always thought that I did better in school when I was involved in a healthy sexual relationship
Aug 22, 2012 12:12AM
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Who in the world is the clown that keeps coming up with stories like this?
Aug 21, 2012 11:13PM
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So riddle me this, why are prostitutes not the smartest people on earth?
Aug 21, 2012 7:35PM
Aug 21, 2012 7:31PM
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Stupid report. "The lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, the pride of life is of the world, not God." "many shall be deceived."

 

If you really think sex makes you smarter, then why did it take the world so long in the "knowledge" that it's gained?

 

Maybe the world is not that smart after all, look at how they're destroying it, through sexuaul immorality, debauchery and lasciviousness.

 

Truth be told. You can't handle the truth because you live in deception/darkness.

Aug 21, 2012 7:27PM
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So women who swallow are smarter, more loving and in a better mood than those who don't?! I'd like to do my own study on that one.
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