Sex as an Anxiety Treatment

June 11, 2014 Gabe Howard

In the world of persuasive writing, convincing people that sex makes someone feel good is a pretty simple task. We are wired for it. When we can’t orgasm with someone else, we can do it ourselves. Men, on average, think about sex 19 times per day and women, on average, ten. So even under normal, non-anxious, circumstances, we know healthy sex generally makes us feel better.

But what about sex as an anxiety treatment (Anxiety Disorder Treatments Are Effective)? When I am anxious, overwhelmed, or even paranoid, having sex — or more specifically, reaching orgasm — makes me feel good. After I have an orgasm, the anxiety is almost always gone. Whether it is because the act itself distracts me, or the various chemical brain reactions of orgasm squash the anxiety, or some combination of both, what is undeniable is that it works.


There is a lot of talk in the mental health community about ways to handle the symptoms of various mental illnesses without the use of medicine. There are many natural and home-based remedies, as well as techniques that people use to manage the effects of anxiety.

The Sexual Elephant in the Room

The obvious question becomes, if reaching orgasm works so well to settle anxiety, why aren't more people doing it? This is where culture plays a huge role in anxiety treatment options. For the sake of illustration, it is the sexual elephant in the room.

First, sex and sexuality in American culture is decidedly paradoxical. On the one hand, sex sells. We use it in advertising everything from automobiles to washing machines. Our TV shows can be rife with sexual innuendo, even in prime time, but perish the thought that a naked breast is shown or that open and honest talk about sex becomes common.

Second, America is one of the most overtly religious nations on earth. And in our dominant religion, masturbation and pre-marital sex are considered sinful. Suggesting them to many people as treatment options would be to literally ask them to disregard their morality. The medical community, as a whole, is generally unwilling to recommend masturbation or sex as a treatment for anxiety because it really does open “Pandora’s Box.”

Third, people are often uncomfortable discussing sex. Even those of us who are comfortable discussing it are unlikely to disclose to others all of our various motivations for participating in the act. While I am perfectly secure in the knowledge that I sometimes have sex or masturbate to relieve anxiety, I don’t often share that reason. I also don’t want to hear the details of my friends and family members sexuality. For example, my baby sister is married and pregnant. I am comfortable with the knowledge that she is sexually active, but I do not want to know the details.

No Shame in Accepting Sex as an Anxiety Treatment

Sex, masturbation, orgasm and even arousal all have various biological effects on our brains and, therefore, our moods. Any distraction from anxiety will, in some way, give us relief. Some people reject the idea of sex as an anxiety treatment and see it as being a standalone activity.

However, just as some folks turn to coffee, smoking, food, or exercise to relieve the symptoms of anxiety, some of us, myself included, will turn to sex. And, just as some will be judged by others for drinking too much coffee or eating too much food, some will be judged for having sexual relations.

Sex, in all its forms, is a very personal decision. The ultimate choice to try anything to reduce anxiety is entirely yours. For me, and many people with anxiety disorders, achieving orgasm is a natural and helpful anxiety reducer. If you haven’t considered it, I strongly encourage you to do so.

APA Reference
Howard, G. (2014, June 11). Sex as an Anxiety Treatment, HealthyPlace. Retrieved on 2024, July 22 from

Author: Gabe Howard

June, 3 2019 at 8:30 pm

My husband has bad anxiety. He has tried drugs but can’t stand the side effects. In November of 2018 he began to clean religiously. It got so bad about three weeks ago I threatened him to see a therapist which he is reluctant to do but the constant cleaning was taking a toll on our family. My husband and I have always enjoyed a healthy sex life but kids and daily life sometimes got in the way. It clicked that his OCD anxiety behaviors really started to manifest when I was in my third trimester with our third child and wasn’t able to have sex and didn’t feel like doing much else. The baby was born in February and it’s taken me awhile to get my groove back. I decided unknown to him I was going to try having sex or making him orgasm at least every other night to see if he would relax. I’m happy to report my hypothesis was right! I’m so happy to have a normal messy house with three kids and a happy husband. Working on him sexually has also helped me feel more confident in my skin after this last baby! I can’t emphasize enough sex can help reduce anxiety over medication! Try it out for your self or your partner!

February, 2 2019 at 10:05 pm

Haveing ptsd i use sex and masterbation alot my dear wife of 15 years has help me cope with anxiety and depression . Over the years when it gets bad orgasim is the only helps more than she knows. With her or by my self it is relief.

February, 4 2019 at 3:25 pm

It is a shame that our puritanical cultural standards don't make this kind of treatment more accessible and acceptable. You're a perfect case study why this should be the case.

July, 31 2018 at 2:57 pm

I haveto say orgasm relieves stress and anxiety.
Masturbation for me brings relief

October, 31 2017 at 3:09 am

Please please guys help me and a man will leave spinal befida
and I want to have children I don't know what to do

Evita Price
October, 20 2017 at 6:32 pm

Thank you for this article!!! I was trying to tell my husband that it isn't "just sex" for a myriad of reasons, but my biggest reason for enjoying it more frequently, after boosting our connection and intimacy, is because it reduces my panic and anxiety almost completely. Nothing else does that. He doesn't understand why I enjoy it more frequently, I don't understand why he wants it less frequently these days. We use to be on the same page about this stuff, but now what use to be daily is weekly at best, twice weekly if Im lucky maybe 2 weeks of the month. I didnt think we were that old yet, but I guess maybe it snuck up on us. Thats where 90% of my anxiety and panic comes from these days. Aging, potential health issues, or sexual inabilities.
I started menopause at 26, so I feel robbed of the rest of what was left of my youth and lIke my femininity was hijacked. 30 years early is a bit hard to handle. Women's sex drives nosedive after menopause.
My take on it is that we aren't on this earth forever, I want nothing more than to enjoy our days, have fun, roll in the hay a lot and be close.
I liked what a sex therapist said in an article once, "When it comes to having sex with your partner, instead of asking 'why?' The better question should always be Why not?"

February, 20 2016 at 9:32 am

I know this post is old but it is hard to find anything on this subject. I turn to sex/masturbation to reduce my anxiety ... but whenever I google it always only brings up searches connected to either feeling anxious about masturbation or performance anxiety.
Are we SO few and far between - people who use sex/orgasm to change the brain chemicals and minimise anxiety?
If I had no anxiety, I don't think I would masturbate at all but sometimes when stress and depression are building it seems the only solution.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

June, 1 2017 at 1:56 am

I wonder that, too; is this that uncommon, or are ppl just ashamed to speak about it? Orgasm has always been my anxiety go-to treatment, since childhood.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 20 2017 at 9:37 pm

Agreed I got prescribed aprazolam and I rather not after reading the side effects. Masturbation works really well before bed. So before going to bed take your time enjoy it and once you reach orgasm you will be relaxed.

DIane Cook
June, 22 2014 at 5:50 am

the slippery slope is when sex becomes more "treatment" than "connection"
Hypersexuality was a huge issue in my (failing) ADHD marriage. THe need to have it NOW…the sulking/pressure/resentment if NOW wasn't granted..and folks, please, if you choose masturbation, let it be with yourself. Don't use your partners body as a masturbtaion receptacle

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
June, 23 2014 at 6:56 am

All excellent points, Diane. Excellent concerns as well. Thank you for reading and commenting. ~Gabe

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Joe O'Dell
June, 25 2017 at 2:33 am

Thanks for the comment Dianne and the article Gabe. What I'm hearing here is there is a fine line between use and abuse and I can relate. Can either of you offer suggestions for me to both be a supportive/healing/empathetic partner but also protect myself from feeling as though my sexuality is being abused/overused for the wrong reasons? My partner is in therapy and on anti anxiety meds but does not exercise/yoga or meditate regularly and could stand a better diet, all of which I do and suggest that she does. I suggest them so that the weight of using our sexuality as treatment can be lighter on my end. Any advice is appreciated, thanks!

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

July, 18 2023 at 9:02 am

I’m in this boat right now. I completely understand how orgasm helps reduce anxiety and I don’t have a problem with that being used as treatment. But I feel like the sexual intimacy I desire has been taken away as I’m now seen as “the fix” to an issue so frequently.
Diane is completely right about the sulking/pressure/resentment - it’s a demoralizing. I set specific days of the week for my husband and I to have sex (super sexy huh?) as a desperate attempt to keep the mood in check - we could of course add in days but those days were a necessity. After two years of doing this and countless arguments when those days were skipped for reasons beyond control (having the stomach flu, covid, shingles, etc) - I feel completely uncared for. So my only advice: if your partner can’t be the “treatment” at that time, don’t belittle/guilt them - take care of your business yourself, alone.

June, 21 2014 at 11:36 am

I wish you could bottle that feeling of orgasm/sex. The euphoria does not last. u could bottle that feeling during

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
June, 23 2014 at 6:54 am

Serena - Thanks for reading and commenting. It would be nice if we could bottle any happy feeling and carry it with us. Maybe someday! ~Gabe

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

March, 10 2019 at 10:54 pm

When you guys and gals discover how to "bottle" it - please share. What a wonderful and happy society it would form! You never know...may be it is just around the corner and we just need to make an effort to discover it.

June, 17 2014 at 9:33 am

What happens when sex, or more specifically the desire to have sex outside the relationship is the cause of the anxiety?

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
June, 17 2014 at 10:07 am

Donn - There isn't anything, at least not that I am aware of, that works for everyone or in every situation. And, as an example, if the desire to have sex outside of the relationship is causing you anxiety then acting on it may relieve that anxiety -- but it will, more likely than not, cause negative consequences in your life... Most likely leading to different anxiety. In my life, at the stage I am in now, sex is sometimes an option. It is something to consider at the very least. Many people feel the same -- but some, for very good reasons, do not see this as an option -- and that is okay. Since the cause of your anxiety is sexually relate then you should probably look a different place to relieve that anxiety. You can't put out fire with fire, after all. Thank you for reading and for commenting. ~Gabe

June, 16 2014 at 4:19 pm

Great article! It takes a little courage to write about something so taboo in America. I agree that sex is an option. Works great for me. Not sure I would have the nerve to recommend it to people.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
June, 16 2014 at 10:29 pm

Thank you, Carrie! It is funny how certain things work in our lives. I try to be open about my life -- it goes with the territory -- but even I wouldn't suggest certain things to everyone. Even i was certain they would benefit! Thank you for the support, kind words, for reading, and for commenting! Thank you! :) ~Gabe

barry wilson
June, 16 2014 at 1:27 pm

sex is not the be and end all in every ones marragemy wife have been married for 37 years it has notbeen the most important thing in ur very happy marrage just in case you think I am writing this onmy own my wife is sat with me writing this love and friendship been true to one another is very important to us both don't forget every couple are different in there marrage

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
June, 16 2014 at 2:44 pm

Thank you, Barry, for reading and commenting. I agree with you that sex is not the only important factor in a person's life. Congratulations on 37 wonderful years! ~Gabe

June, 11 2014 at 10:46 am

Thanks for sharing. Sex is part of our biological needs and if it can truly reduce anxiety, then people get to save money from medications, which is great. Maybe it should be considered as alternative natural treatment but it is not a practical solution. We cannot determine how long will the effect be on an individual suffering from anxiety. The way I see it, sex is just a quick fix.

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

Gabe Howard
June, 11 2014 at 12:55 pm

Thank you Geena for your comments and, of course, for reading. I agree, there is no "cure" for Anxiety and I wouldn't ever want to think of anything as a solution. Sex, meditation, jogging, etc. are all things that help relieve anxiety on a case by case basis. What works for one person won't always work for others. I am a firm supporter of making good choices and doing what works for each person. ~Gabe

In reply to by Anonymous (not verified)

August, 9 2022 at 12:43 pm

Question- can getting orgasms everyday or close help long term for anxiety or just in moment. Example people have anxiety during a job...but can not get an orgasms right then!
Will regular orgasms reduce work anxiety?

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