Skip to main content

08 Feb, 2022

Unpacking sexual wellness with Kate Moyle

Sex, despite being a mere three letter word, is one that even in 2022 evokes a strong reaction from many. For too long and to our detriment, our sexual health and wellbeing has been side-lined at the expense of its contribution to our overall health and wellness. We talk to psychosexual and relationship therapist, Kate Moyle to unpack more about sexual wellness, and how this plays a big part in our holistic experience of health and wellbeing.


As a psychosexual therapist, more than most I see a strong connection between sexual wellness and our general health, both mental and physical. However much we have historically tried to avoid integrating sexuality into our versions of self, the avoidance hasn’t worked. And this is because sex holds meaning. When we have a sexual experience of any kind, even if it’s not one we are emotionally invested in, we take it to mean something in someway about ourselves. Sex is loaded – loaded with narratives, messages and expectations. With norms, ‘shoulds’ and assumptions. The lack of inclusive, mainstream, normalising and educative conversations about sex leaves many of us comparing ourselves to expectations, rather than focusing on the pleasure, fun and connection that we are probably having sex for.

We also see that positive and intimate connections and experiences in our lives can meaningfully contribute to all-round wellness in numerous ways.

  1. Touch and sensuality release oxytocin, commonly known as the ‘love hormone’, which helps couples to build trust and connection. It’s also released at other critical bonding points in our lives such as childbirth and breastfeeding and plays a physiological role in us feeling closer.
  2. Orgasm also triggers the release of prolactin, which leaves you with that satisfied feeling.
  3. And, sex boosts our dopamine levels, which has feel good, motivation and satisfaction properties.
  4. This cocktail of hormone release also promotes relaxation and sleep. The oxytocin boost offers a buffer against the stress hormone cortisol.

The important thing to note here, is that conversations about orgasms are not exclusive to those who are coupled, and self-pleasure, sensuality and exploration are all ways of enhancing your sex life when single. This also helps to shape another factor that plays a part in our intimate lives – confidence. We aren’t taught about sex in a way which encourages us to be confident or to learn about our bodies; which in turn allows us to relax, be mindful and in the moment and help ourselves to experience more. Our thoughts can interrupt our sex lives and relationships; anxieties can be circuit breakers for arousal and desire; and our stressors in other areas of our lives such as work can leak into the bedroom with us. Mindfulness techniques and approaches are commonplace in psychosexual therapy, for helping us to get out of our heads – where a lot of modern life keeps us - and into our bodies, where the sensuality and physical pleasure of sex are experienced.

Like other areas of our lives, sex moves through phases and stages. It’s not static. It intersects the different areas: the body, the mind, our culture, experiences and identity. We can see the impact of challenges with sex and relationships showing up in lack of sleep, anxiety, avoidance or self-criticism. We also see the opposite. With the gift of pleasure and connection, we can feel boosted and lifted, more satisfied and secure, contributing to our self-care and overall wellness.

In conclusion the first step to improving by your sexual wellness is ditching the idea of a magic formula for the perfect sex life, and instead thinking on an individual level about what you want yours to be like.

There is no one-size-fits-all approach, it’s about finding the right fit for you, whatever that may look like.

Key takeaways on why sex is important for our health and wellbeing.

  • Connection: At a basic level, sex and intimacy is good for us as it evokes joy from pleasure, and happy hormones, such as ‘oxytocin’. The sense of connection we feel from it also helps reduce our stress and anxiety.
  • Mindfulness: Exploring mindful techniques and practices during sex will help us to let go of our stress and everyday worries, and elevating our mood, sense of pleasure and mental clarity. It is a form of self care.
  • Confidence: Liberating yourself from expectation and stigmas surround sex, and focussing on being present can be extremely grounding and meditative. Exploring and familiarising sexuality with someone else or alone increases mindfulness and self-awareness, which can feel empowering.
  • Association: Our sex life is likely to affect other parts of our lives connected to our health and wellbeing due to the emotions evoked by it, which is why its important to feel nourished by sex. Sexual wellness that make us feel both happy and fulfilled with help improve our digestion and gut health, our quality of sleep and our mental health.

Kate Moyle is a Psychosexual & Relationship Therapist, Psychosexologist and host of The Sexual Wellness Sessions Podcast.