Reaching the big O does more than just enhance sexual pleasure. It can also strengthen your pelvic floor, relieve pain, and even improve sleep.

Whatever you call it—peaking, climaxing, or coming—having an orgasm either with yourself or with a partner can heighten sexual pleasure and may have a few added health benefits, like easing stress or relieving pain.

However, research into the perks of orgasms is limited, especially since the experience is different for everyone. "Some people orgasm multiple times, some once, and some none, and that's all totally normal," Rosara Torrisi, a certified sex therapist and founding director of the Long Island Institute of Sex Therapy, tells Health. 

With this in mind, the following seven benefits are by no means a comprehensive list or a guarantee for every individual. But they could bring you some surprising mind and body boosts that go way beyond the bedroom.

benefits of orgasm
Credit: Getty Images

1. Orgasm boosts mood

Having an orgasm releases a flood of feel-good hormones into the bloodstream, which can make you feel happier, calmer, and less stressed, Kate White, MD, MPH, a professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the Boston University School of Medicine and vice chair of academics in the ob-gyn department at Boston Medical Center, tells Health.

According to Dr. White, these hormones include:

  • Oxytocin, aka the "love hormone," which facilitates feelings of love and attachment. It is also released during labor to help with baby bonding.
  • Dopamine, which triggers intense feelings of reward, desire, and pleasure.
  • Endorphins, the "natural opiates" that induce a sense of euphoria and reduce stress.
  • Serotonin, which helps regulate mood, appetite, and sleep.
  • Prolactin, the primary chemical that initiates milk production after pregnancy and plays a role in bonding, also makes us feel satisfied after orgasm.

Reaching climax might also make you feel more confident, which can further improve your mood, Logan Levkoff, PhD, a certified sexuality education and advisor to the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, tells Health.

One thing to know, though, is that it's unclear how long these mood-boosting benefits may last due to the lack of research, Dr. White says.

2. Orgasm helps you connect with your body

Having orgasms, especially through masturbation, can reveal what's normal and what isn't when it comes to your sexual health. "It's one of the few times people, especially people with vulvas, give themselves permission to touch their genitals," Torrisi says.

Think of reaching peak as an opportunity to connect with your body, so you spot any changes that may indicate a medical condition, such as an STI or a yeast infection. "It is really helpful to know what your body feels like, looks like, and even smells like, because if you don't know what the norm is for your body, it's really difficult to identify when something is off," Levkoff says.

Experiencing orgasms also creates a comfort level with your body, and without that comfort level, you might be more hesitant to share health info with doctors. When someone is unfamiliar or uncomfortable with their genitals, Dr. White explains, it can cause them to fear pelvic exams or prevent them from bringing up concerns with health care providers, potentially delaying crucial care and treatment.

And for her clients with chronic illnesses, Torrisi says climaxing has an added bonus: It offers them reassurance that their body is capable of giving them pleasure.

3. Orgasm teaches you what feels good for you

Without experiencing orgasms, you won't be able to fully explore what gets you off—potentially cheating you out of the sexual pleasure you deserve.

"A lot of people want to have orgasms consistently from penetration, and the truth is that some people can come consistently from that, but most people can't," Dr. White says. If this sounds familiar to you, climaxing via masturbation can give you a clearer idea of the kind of stimulation you need to reach the big O.

Dr. White recommends experimenting with sex toys or touching yourself in different ways until you know what feels good for you—and you can communicate what you like or dislike when you're with a partner.

"Understanding that your body has the innate capacity for pleasure, and it's not dependent on a partner, is empowering," Levkoff says. "Know that you don't have to rely on someone else to make you a sexual being or to make you feel a certain way."

4. Orgasm strengthens relationships

Beyond building the relationship you have with yourself, orgasms can also bond you tighter and closer to a partner.

A 2016 review published in Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology found that concentrations of the neurotransmitters oxytocin and prolactin—which are both thought to facilitate bonding—increase during orgasm. Because of this, the study authors believe there may be a link between climaxing and connecting with a sexual partner.

Of course, this doesn't mean that if you don't reach peak with your partner, your relationship isn't strong. But if a sexual partner is particularly good at making you come, you're probably more likely to want to see them again, which leads to a greater chance of investment in that relationship, Torrisi says. Plus, knowing they can give you pleasure might also boost their confidence and satisfaction.

5. Orgasm improves sleep

If you're having trouble catching zzz's, consider having more Os. Many people find that orgasms make them sleepy, which is why they can be a great addition to your bedtime behavior, Levkoff says.  

How do orgasms induce sleepiness? It may be due to the relaxing hormones that circulate in your system after you reach peak. Or it could be because orgasming is similar to progressive muscle relaxation, Torrisi says. Progressive muscle relaxation is a relaxation technique that involves clenching a group of muscles as tightly as possible and then releasing them. Letting go of the tension can help people fall asleep much in the same way muscles contract and then release during climax.

Or it might simply be conditional. "Some people also build a habit of orgasming before bed, so it's a part of their sleep routine," Torrisi explains. "Therefore, their bodies kind of know, oh! This means sleep."

6. Orgasm maintains pelvic floor muscles

An orgasm is a series of muscle contractions, and those contractions may help you maintain or strengthen your pelvic floor, says Levkoff. The contractions are the same ones that happen during Kegel exercises: when you intentionally tighten your pelvic floor muscles, hold for 3-10 seconds, then release. (Doing Kegels feels like you're holding in your pee.)

Orgasms also improve pelvic floor health is by increasing blood flow to the pelvic region, which supports muscle growth, Sonia Bahlani, MD, an ob-gyn and pelvic pain specialist based in New York, tells Health.

Regularly flexing your pelvic floor muscles can lead to better sex by increasing vaginal lubrication, reducing pain from penetration, and strengthening orgasm intensity, according to a previous Health article. That's because a stronger pelvic floor improves blood flow to the genitals and may lead to a tighter grip during penetration.

7. Orgasm relieves pain

As if improved mood and sleep weren't benefits enough, orgasm-induced hormones like oxytocin and endorphins appear to act as natural painkillers, Dr. White says.

"Those pleasurable feelings tend to dull feelings of pain," Levkoff says, noting this may be why some people find that orgasms relieve menstrual cramps.

However, for others, getting off can actually increase period pain, Torrisi says. This is because orgasms trigger uterine contractions, worsening the uterine contractions you're already experiencing thanks to your period.

Feel free to give climaxing a go as a way to ease your period-related pains—or any other pain you're experiencing. Just don't expect it to work like a magic bullet, since every body is different.

To get our top sexual health stories delivered to your inbox, sign up for the Health Hookup newsletter