Issue #152: The Summer Issue

There’s no question that hot temperatures in the summer make for an especially high frequency of hot-and-bothered syndrome (no, it’s not real, but yes, it feels like it is). Translation: hot months often leave us feeling a bit agitated, stressed out, and, needless to say, hot. Which is why it doesn’t exactly come as a huge surprise that many of us find our intimacy levels dropping during the summer months (who wants to work up a sweat between the sheets when they’re sweaty enough just trying to slip into bed solo? Not us, that’s for sure). Yet on the flip side of that, there is some research to suggest that summer lends itself to heightened sexual activity in some cases. So, with two very different, but seemingly equal-in-veracity points on the table, we dug a little deeper to get to the bottom of how summer could be helping or hurting your sex life.

For starters, Ashwini Nadkarni, M.D., a psychiatrist at Brigham and Women’s Hospital and an instructor at Harvard Medical School, says that the increase in the amount of sun we get during the summer can actually contribute to a better mood, despite what you might think it’s doing to you in the middle of a hotter-than-usual commute to work. And with the overall mood boost, we ultimately find ourselves becoming more interested in sex. “Sunlight has been shown to have an association with serotonin, a key neurotransmitter in the ability to experience pleasure,” she said. Plus, with the rise in serotonin comes a drop in melatonin, the hormone that helps you get to sleep but that can also block your sex hormones in the process.

In addition to the mood boost and hormonal shift thanks to the increased exposure to sunlight, a couple of other factors might come into play, as well. For example, the fact that we tend to spend more time socializing and working out in the summer can lead to a boost in libido. At the same time, wearing less clothing to cope with the hotter weather can make us involuntarily think about sex more, which could translate into becoming a bit more sexually active.

But that’s all just one side of the divisive argument. On the other side, it’s totally possible that high temperatures and rising levels of humidity can majorly throw off or reduce your sex drive. According to a study from the National Bureau of Economic Research, for example, suggests that babies are way less likely to be conceived in the hotter months of the year than they are to be conceived when it’s a little cooler out. And it kind of makes sense, since the heat can definitely make you feel a little sluggish and irritated, and that hardly lends itself to wanting to get busy in bed.

Moral of the story: while there isn’t necessarily a clearcut consensus on whether the effect of summer on your sex life is positive or negative (the scale can tip either way), one thing that is undeniable is that summer has some kind of impact on the sex drive. But whether the hotter temperatures rev things up or slow them down could all just come down to the person.