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The Transformative Power of Sex

by Dr. Barb DePree MD

“There are many paths to heaven, and sex is one of them.”

--Abraham Maslow

Maslow, the humanist psychologist who invented the term “peak experience,” would know exactly what participants in the “Optimal Sexuality” study mean when they say that “transformation” is an essential part of extraordinary sex.

People interviewed for a groundbreaking study published last year in The Canadian Journal of Human Sexuality used words like “bliss,” “peace,” “awe,” and “ecstasy” to describe this transcendent aspect of peak sexual experiences. Some compared it to the “high” that cam be achieved through meditation. Others used religious language to describe the feeling, calling it “revelatory,” “eternal,” “an epiphany.”

“At this moment,” one participant said, “we were in the presence of God.”

It can seem a little over the top, I know. But while not all of us can say (like one study participant) that we’ve experienced sex that felt like “floating in the universe of light and stars and music and sublime peace,” many of us can relate to what singer Marvin Gaye called “sexual healing.” Physical and emotional intimacy can simply make us feel better, more in harmony with ourselves and our partners.

The transformative power of great sex that “can change you, can make you more than you are,” goes beyond the bedroom, I think. True sexual healing carries over into our everyday lives, makes us calmer, happier, more loving people.

For some of us, hormonal changes or the special stresses of midlife have reduced the power of sexual healing and transformation in our lives. Remember, though, if we understand what's happening to our bodies, we can find ways to bring that power back. Check out our recipe for enjoying sex after menopause, or our selection of books on mindfulness and sexual health.

You can find your own little piece of heaven, right here on earth.


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