Sexual Afterglow: What It Is And Why It’s Actually Good For You

It's all about evolution

sexual afterglow
Photo by skodonnell/Getty Images

Most sex-having adults know what I’m talkin’ about when we’re talkin’ about “afterglow.” It’s that warm and fuzzy feeling in the hours after getting intimate that makes you feel like you’re walking on clouds.

It’s a little like being high. Does everyone know you totally got laid last night? To you, it feels like it’s written on your forehead.

Finally, scientists are getting to the bottom of this phenomenon. Researchers had 214 straight newlyweds document their sex lives, and found that the afterglow lasts for two days following sex. Those feels fade around day three.

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According to the study’s lead author and psychological scientist Dr. Andrea Meltzer, of Florida State University, it’s evolutionary and has to do with how sperm counts recover:

“This is the first research to quantify the length of the sexual afterglow and to examine its benefits. Our research shows that sexual satisfaction remains elevated 48 hours after sex. The afterglow appears to last approximately the same length of time that it takes for peak sperm concentration to be restored. 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.”

Couples who reported a stronger afterglow also said they were happier in their relationships. Previous studies have shown that sex is a bonding act for couples, but it’s been unclear before why most couples only have sex every few days.

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While this research rules for young heterosexual couples — the demographic that they studied — it lacks in diversity. More research is needed to explore the afterglow effect of older couples and LGBT pairs. Also, people who aren’t newlyweds, because those folks are glowing enough to skew the results from a mile away.

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