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Sex Keeps Couples Bonded, But Only For 48 Hours After Copulation

03/21/2017 10:14 EDT | Updated 03/21/2017 10:14 EDT

Do you feel a bit dissatisfied with your relationship if you haven't had sex with your partner after a few days?

Well, there's now research that may explain why people start to feel a bit antsy if they haven't had sex recently.

According to the new research, sex with your partner brings a "sexual afterglow," which makes people feel happy in their relationship — but only up to 48 hours after copulation.

A study published in the Association for Psychological Science's Journal says, this "sexual afterglow" helps bond partners over time and contributes to the quality of the relationship.

black couple sex

"Our research shows that sexual satisfaction remains elevated 48 hours after sex," Dr. Andrea Meltzer, of Florida State University and lead author on the study, said in a press release. "And people with a stronger sexual afterglow — that is, people who report a higher level of sexual satisfaction 48 hours after sex — report higher levels of relationship satisfaction several months later."

Study researchers looked at data from two independent, longitudinal surveys — one with 96 newlywed couples and another with 118 newlywed couples. The couples were asked to keep individual daily sex diaries for 14 days to report when they had sex, their levels of sexual satisfaction, their levels of relationship and marriage satisfaction and whether they were satisfied with their partner on a 7-point scale (1 = not at all, 7 = extremely).

On average, the couples reported having sex on four of the 14 days of the study, and what researchers found was that couples reported heightened sexual satisfaction up to two days after having sex.

The study notes that this association between the act of sex and the levels of sexual satisfaction didn't differ according to the participants' age or gender, and that it "held even after sexual frequency, personality traits, length of relationship and other factors were taken into account."

couple sex

In an interview with Broadly, Meltzer said that those who "reported a stronger 48-hour sexual afterglow [also] reported higher levels of relationship satisfaction four to six months later."

"This research is important because it joins other research suggesting that sex functions to keep couples pair bonded," Meltzer noted in the study's press release.

However, the researchers stress that as the couples used in the study were all in their mid-20s and mostly heterosexual, more research is needed to explore "sexual afterglow" among older couples as well as LGBTQ couples. That being said, they also speculate that older couples in long-term relationships may have a longer "sexual afterglow."

And for those wondering how many times you should have sex to feel happy? One study suggests that it's "optimal" to have sex once a week in order to maximize your happiness.

"Sex is associated with feeling more satisfied in a relationship,” which is why people who regularly have intercourse experience greater levels of happiness, explained researcher Amy Muise.

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