Having sex at least once a week is the equivalent of earning an extra $50,000 per year, a new study suggests. Anybody who’s happy with their sex life might not be shocked to hear that, but researchers wanted to pinpoint why, exactly, regular sex provides such a sense of well-being. So a group of University of Toronto researchers set out to do just that by conducting a few different experiments. Their results, which will be published in Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, suggest that it all comes down to cuddling.
In the first experiment, the researchers recruited 335 Americans online and quizzed them about their relationships about how often they had sex, how happy they were, and how often they kissed or cuddled with their partners. Researchers then repeated the experiment with 74 couples from San Francisco.
Next, the researchers asked 106 Swiss couples to keep a diary and found that the more the couple had sex over a 10-day period, the happier their relationship satisfaction was. A follow-up study found that those same couples were more likely to report “experiences of affection” several hours after having sex, not just in the immediate aftermath.
One caveat: As Science of Us points out, because the study relied heavily on surveys and participant diaries, it’s hard to actually determine what’s actually responsible for the feelings of happiness sex provides (i.e. is it your overall well-being? The sex? The cuddling? Which came first?).