By Marie Le Conte
Is this the roundtable about the Metaverse?”, a woman who has just entered the room asks. It is not; she leaves. “I’m looking for the session about finance,” says another as she walks in. Wrong again; she closes the door behind her.
The 20 or so women who have gathered for this Stack conference roundtable are here for one thing: to talk about sex, baby. They are of all ages, ethnicities, religions and sexualities, and the search for pleasure is what unites them.
Stories are shared about first times, best times and worst times, tips exchanged on how to efficiently reach the big-O, and several take notes as an ethical, female-focused porn website is mentioned.*
It may seem like an odd t for the conference – everyone else is talking about productive networking, the future of business and opportunities in tech. What do anecdotes about fingering have to do with our working lives? Quite a lot, it turns out.
According to a study conducted by Oregon State University in 2017, “maintaining a healthy sex life at home boosts employees’ job satisfaction and engagement at the office”. Over the course of two weeks, the researchers followed 159 married employees and asked them to complete two surveys every day.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, they found that respondents who’d had sex with their spouse the previous day reported more positive moods the next day. This was the case for both men and women, and remained observable even after accounting for marital satisfaction and sleep quality.
Crucially, this study is far from the only one of its kind. In 2006, an academic from the University of the West of Scotland looked at the link between sexual relationships and blood pressure and found that PVI (penile-vaginal intercourse) is “associated with better psychological and physiological function”.
Of the 24 women and 22 men he followed over two weeks, those who’d engaged in PVI had a better stress response to activities like public speaking and verbal arithmetics.
If vaginal penetration isn’t your thing, you shouldn’t worry too much. As researchers from Scientific Reports found in 2013, “Positive physical contact as hugging and massages from partners reduces cortisol, increases oxytocin, and lowers systolic blood pressure in stressful situations”.
Speaking of which – there is nothing quite like sex to keep your mood in check. Though the Covid-19 lockdowns had few silver linings, they provided academics with an ideal set-up with which to study human behaviour in a controlled environment.
‘Maintaining a healthy sex life at home boosts employees’ job satisfaction and engagement at the office’
In 2020, a team of Italian researchers set out to study the relationship between people’s sex lives and their mental health, especially in the context of an event as trauma-laden as a pandemic.
Their conclusion? “Covid-19 lockdowns dramatically impacted on psychological, relational, and sexual health of the population. In this scenario, sexual activity played a protective effect, in both genders, on the quarantine-related plague of anxiety and mood disorders.”
In short: people who were going at it when there was nothing else to do were significantly less likely to report feelings of anxiety or depression. They were probably sleeping better as well.
As a study from the Sleep Science journal discovered, people who have sex frequently were more likely to report a better quality of sleep. Interestingly, the link was considerably stronger for those in regular relationships and who reached orgasm frequently.
This conveniently brings us back to our roundtable. As every woman knows, the teenage adage that sex is like pizza – “even when it’s bad, it’s good” – doesn’t quite hold up. Having a fulfilling and pleasurable sex life is vital but can be easier said than done.
How can we help ourselves? According to those in the room, thorough, respectful and age-appropriate sex education in schools should be key. Both girls and boys should be taught about their bodies and about what is, at heart, a natural act that no-one ought to be ashamed of wanting to have.
For those who grew up without such teachings, some self-work can go a long way. Learning what you like, how you like doing it, and how to communicate it efficiently with a partner is crucial. As one of the participants put it, “your pleasure is your responsibility”.
Perhaps it should be the responsibility of your employers too. As all these studies have shown, people who are sexually satisfied sleep better, think better and are consistently in a better mood. Every office could benefit from this. Adding the services of a therapist specialising in sex issues to benefits offered by companies may seem outlandish now, but should it?
If free lunches and the occasional afterwork drink are thought to be worth it for the boost they provide to workers’ morale, just think what a sex coach could do...
*That website is called XConfessions, by the way – and if you’re more into audio-based filth, Dipsea should be your friend. You can thank us later.
Could the secret to success lay beneath the sheets? The Stack World investigates the links between sex and productivity.
By Marie Le Conte
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