Researchers Reveal Link Between Sex And Improved Memory


It’s kind of interesting that what many of us consider to be our “normal routine” actually helps to improve memory. For instance, we’ll drink our morning cup of coffee, get in a quick workout, or eat some veggies or lean meats for our meal(s). All of these activities have been associated with developing a better memory. Why not add sex to the list?

Strange as it may sound, according to a research study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior, sexual intercourse does in fact improve memory. Aside from the cardio activity we get from boom-boom, our verbal skills may also benefit. While additional studies are required, preliminary research does indeed discover a correlation between sex and verbal memory capacity. We’ll briefly discuss the science behind sexual activity and improved memory. If so inclined, feel free to test the theory yourself!

Researchers Reveal Link Between Sex And Improved Memory

The rationale for the study, as cited by the authors:

“Previous studies have identified a number of factors that contribute to improved cognitive function, and to memory function specifically…One such factor, frequency of penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI), has been reported to be advantageous to memory…studies investigating the potential benefits of frequent PVI in memory function…are to the best of our knowledge absent from literature.”

The study focuses primarily on the potential correlation between PVI and short-term memory. Short-term memory is the brain’s system for allocating and managing stimuli required for completing complex tasks (e.g. comprehension, learning and reasoning). An example of this is a person’s ability to recall a certain number of items (e.g. words, numbers) after a short period of time.

Ever gone grocery shopping with a list of five items in-mind? How many were you able to remember? This is a perfect and simplistic example of short-term memory.

For all the non-biologists out there (which definitely includes this writer), the hippocampus is the area of the brain associated with emotional regulation and recollection of life events (i.e. memory).

Anyways, a quick overview on how the study was conducted. The research team consisted of behavioral scientists from McGill University in Montreal, Canada.

– Participants consisted of 78 women aged 18 to 29

– A questionnaire was administered regarding sexual and other lifestyle behaviors, including the use of birth control pills and use of other substances (e.g. contraceptives) relative to sexual activity

– To test whether PVI correlates with memory performance, participants were tasked with completing a computerized memory test “consisting of abstract words and neutral faces”

– Follow-up assessments measuring PVI activity and both verbal and visual recollection were administered

Observations of the Study

“This may suggest that neurogenesis in the hippocampus is higher in those women with a higher frequency of PVI (penile-vaginal intercourse)…(and) may indeed have beneficial effects on memory function in healthy young women.” Maunder, L., et al., ”Frequency of Penile-Vaginal Intercourse is Associated With Verbal Recognition Performance in Adult Women”

Now that the “nerd” stuff is out of the way, let’s get down to what these whitecoats found out:

First, researchers did not discover any link between PVI frequency and face recognition, as “memory for words depends to a large extend on the hippocampus, whereas memory for faces may rely to a greater extend of surrounding extra-hippocampal structures.”

So, frequent boom-boom doesn’t mean you’ll remember the face or name of a co-worker you occasionally see in the breakroom.

Second, and more promisingly, researchers did observe that participants with higher than average rates of PVI scored significantly better on word-based memory tasks. The research team provides a theoretical explanation of this phenomenon; specifically, that higher rates of sexual activity may initiate neural development within the hippocampus. Scientists have previously referred to this malleability of the brain as neuroplasticity, or brain plasticity.

The exact brain mechanism for such findings – as is the case with so many others – is not entirely understood. However, medical experts do recognize sexual activity as a form of exercise. Physical activity, as determined through numerous research studies, directly correlates with decreasing levels of distress in the brain. Distress (aka, “bad stress”) has been known to negatively impact memory functionality of the brain.

As is well-known, the exact mechanisms of the human brain, relative to human behavior, are inordinately complex. This complexity makes it very difficult to elaborate on observable behavioral traits, no matter how well-designed the research study.

Related article: 7 Habits That Make Your Brain Work Better

That said, this study does provide a potential glimpse into the abstract relationship between sexual activity and cognitive function. Perhaps the most compelling (and understandable) part of the research is that physical activity induces – and may very well improve – cognitive functions.

As an aside, positive results yielded from the experiment have prompted those in academia to examine the relationship between frequency of orgasms and improved verbal memory.

What do you think? Add to the discussion in the comments below!

Gander, K. (2016, December 1). Women who have more sex have better memories, study finds. Retrieved December 29, 2016, from
Lemoult, J., Kircanski, K., Prasad, G., & Gotlib, I. H. (2016). Negative Self-Referential Processing Predicts the Recurrence of Major Depressive Episodes. Clinical Psychological Science. doi:10.1177/2167702616654898
Maunder, L., Schoemaker, D., & Pruessner, J. C. (2016). Frequency of Penile–Vaginal Intercourse is Associated with Verbal Recognition Performance in Adult Women. Archives of Sexual Behavior. doi:10.1007/s10508-016-0890-4
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