- A new study shows that exposure to sunlight enhances romantic passion in humans.
- Getting sunlight with your partner can boost your passion and help ease your mind during these troubled times.
- There are also many ways to boost passion away from the sun with your partner.
If you’re looking to heat things up in the bedroom, a little sun can go a long way.
According to Israeli researchers at Tel Aviv University, exposure to ultraviolet radiation from sunlight enhances romantic passion.
“The sun or UV exposure, and I’m talking about very mild exposure – I’m not talking about getting redness – so very soft exposure, is enhancing the sexual system and some aspects of romantic passion in humans via the skin,” Carmit Levy, PhD, professor of human molecular genetics biochemistry at Tel Aviv University, told Healthline.
Levy explained that two skin systems in the body respond to UV exposure: One produces pigment to protect the skin from the next UV exposure, and another is called the DNA repair system.
When UV rays hit the skin, the rays induce DNA damage in the cells of the skin. The DNA repair system, which comes into action milliseconds after exposure to UV rays, begins to fix the DNA damage.
“We found that the DNA damage system that is recognizing the damage and starts fixing it is also activating the endocrine sexuality system,” said Levy.
Her study involved exposing 32 college students to 20 minutes of UVB phototherapy. The participants’ blood was drawn before the exposure and after. They also filled out questionnaires on their behaviors of romantic passion and aggression.
After sun exposure, both men and women exhibited a rise in romantic passion. Males also noted an increase in levels of aggression.
“It was amazing to see that in both men and women, we saw enhancement of the sexuality hormone systems, not the actual hormones, but the systems of sexuality, as well as metabolism and immune system,” Levy said.
She hopes that her research will open the door to better treatments for conditions related to sex hormones and those affected by the endocrine system.
“Maybe phototherapy can be used to solve these aspects. More research needs to be done for sure, [but] it’s opened the idea and mind toward [that] direction,” said Levy.
The connection between sun, mood, and passion
Jess O’Reilly, PhD, host of the Sex with Dr. Jess podcast, says a wealth of research suggesting that spending time outdoors is positively correlated with overall health — from mental health to memory to cardiovascular wellness.
“It follows that if your mood is boosted, the positive benefits can spill over to your relationship and sex life. When you’re in a good mood, you’re more likely to feel confident and communicate clearly, and you’re better equipped to deal with stress and conflict — all of which are good for the relationship and sexual connection,” O’Reilly told Healthline.
When your mood is elevated, you’re more likely to feel comfortable in your skin and connected to your body, enhancing presence and pleasure, she added.
“When you’re feeling good (mentally and physically due to time spent in nature or another positive experience), you’re more likely to be open to new ideas — in and out of the bedroom,” said O’Reilly.
Sarah Rattray, PhD, couples psychologist and founder of Couples Communication Institute, agreed.
“If you and your partner go outside in the sun together, and especially if what you’re doing together is enjoyable and relaxing, the sun and the activities together will likely enhance your relaxation, well-being, and likely your sexual passion as well,” she told Healthline.
Why now is the time to enhance intimacy
While enhancing intimacy with your partner is always good, doing so during these times when the collective world is focused on so much worry could also help ease your mind.
“Sex can be a source of stress relief for many people. As the body becomes awash in feel-good chemicals during arousal and orgasm, it can offer a sense of escape from the mundane (and the general stressors of life),” said O’Reilly.
Rattray says intimacy is part of a positive feedback loop.
“In order to feel close, intimate, and perhaps sexual with your partner, the more relaxed and at ease you feel, the more likely you are to feel intimate,” she said. “And the more close and intimate you are, the more your body will release hormones related to relaxation, well-being, and more safety and closeness.”
Slowing down your body and your mind eases worry and opens you up to more connection with your partner, Rattray added.
However, O’Reilly adds that for some people, sex is a source of stress, so it’s not a panacea.
“It can be helpful to talk about how stress and sex are connected for you and your partner,” she said.
Additional ways you can boost passion
Experts agree there are also several things you can do to help ignite romantic passion that don’t involve sun exposure, such as:
O’Reilly says the best formula for passion in long-term relationships often involves creating a foundation of love, security, safety, and trust. Doing so allows you to engage in things that feel risky together.
One way to create trust is to make your partner feel cherished and understood by taking time to notice the things about your partner you appreciate, respect, and are grateful for.
“[And] be sure to let each other know these things, every day if possible. Say it out loud, or send an email, or leave a note,” said Rattray.
Engage in heated debates
O’Reilly suggests avoiding mundane talk.
“Try asking probing questions that lead to meaningful and even heated conversions,” she said.
Ask questions such as:
- What’s the meaning of life?
- What do you believe about the afterlife?
- When do you feel most loved?
- When do you feel powerful?
- What are we doing well in our relationship?
Talk about your turn-ons
Everyone has “accelerators” for what turns on their sexual interest, says Rattray.
She recommends having relaxed conversations about what pushes the accelerator for you and your partner.
“For example, do you feel more open to romance when you have some quiet time to talk, or when your house is clean, or when you and your partner are freshly showered? Get familiar with what best sets the stage for each of you, and get creative in making those things happen,” said Rattray.
Know each other’s turnoffs
Like turn-ons, everyone has turnoffs that make it unlikely for you to be interested in romance, such as having guests staying in your home, children awake, a work project due the next day, or a messy house.
“It’s important to acknowledge that these are real and can’t easily be overcome. Accept that these ‘brakes’ are powerful for both you and your partner, and be a team in clearing away the brakes together,” said Rattray.
Rattray says take time to explore different ways to relax together. Consider watching your favorite TV show, playing a game, or sitting in your backyard.
“Then make a point to intentionally relax several times a week, for 15-30 minutes at a time,” she said.
Reminisce about how you met
Retell the story of how you met or talk about your first date to one another, to your kids, or to a friend.
O’Reilly suggests talking about how you felt, what made you nervous, your first impressions, and anything else that comes to mind.
“When you recall happy and exciting experiences, it can help to reinvigorate those feelings,” she said.
Get your adrenaline pumping
Up your adrenaline by engaging in activities, such as riding a roller coaster, going for a hike, working out together, visiting a haunted house, or watching a scary movie.
“Reinvigorating this ‘passion’ chemical can spill over into your connection,” said O’Reilly.
Spend time apart
Time apart can make you appreciate each other and give you more to explore when you’re together.
“You’ll have more interesting things to talk about and share if you have your own lives and interests — and you’ll create more space for curiosity, which can help to boost passion,” said O’Reilly.
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