Cognitive benefits to sex and abstinence
By Josh Visser, Columnist
I am very happily in the midst of a relationship—not to sound like a braggart, by any means. Before I met my girlfriend I was lost, blundering through what my social circle enthusiastically refers to as the “Sahara Desert of Dry-Streaks.” Unbeknownst to all of us, these polar opposite periods of time served a similar higher purpose—they both promoted brain growth.
Sex, or the climax of, is a great de-stresser. Diligent study on the effects of the female orgasm has been going on for nearly three decades at Rutgers University. Scientists there noted the female orgasm “lights up” nearly 30 areas of a woman’s brain on an fMRI. This means nutrients are being served out to parts of your grey matter that typically go without stimulus and use. Other mentally strenuous activity (puzzles, memory games, playing music, doing art projects) only focus on concentrated parts of the brain. So, sex isn’t just good exercise. A study conducted out of the University of Seoul identified a similar trend. Their major discovery was that sex improves mental performance by fueling the development of new neurons in your hippocampus (where long term memories are stored) through neurogenesis. Lack of sexual activity has been linked to decline in cognitive function for those in their middle to late years, and identified as a catalyst for mental illness.
Conversely, there is little scientific evidence backing my claim that abstinence also promotes brain growth. But I’ve watched Seinfeld. I’m a believer. And thus, I had to take a more inductive look into this section of the article. Art Jones, a former porn addict and avid masturbator turned leader of a new social revolution—the “NoFap.” He is the head of Reddit’s community of “fapstronauts,” and his article on the benefits of refraining from orgasm entirely can be summed with one word; diligence. He claimed to touch himself often more than ten times a day, and he would often find himself having to leave public settings in order to relieve himself. His addiction became detrimental to his social situation, and he decided to make a change. It was this lifestyle switch that made all the difference. He found himself other, more proactive outlets for his time and energy, and decided he was better off without any sexual arousal in his life whatsoever.
Not to say swearing off sex or masturbation will make you more intelligent. But maybe, just maybe, using those 10 minutes on some other activity will do you some good. Alternatively it has also been proven spending 20 fewer minutes on your French lesson and using it get to know someone (or yourself) a bit more intimately will provide satisfaction on both physical and mental levels. Sometimes you just got to shake things up and try something new.