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Researchers Tie Casual Sex to Depression and Even Suicidal Ideation

Update Date: Nov 21, 2013 02:43 PM EST

In modern day society, casual sex is becoming more common amongst young men and women. Even though casual sex might be happening more frequently, it does not mean that the act is always enjoyable between two people. A new study reported that women who engage in casual sex were less likely to achieve an orgasm when compared to men. Now, in another study, researchers found a link between casual sex and depression.

"Several studies have found a link between poor mental health and casual sex, but the nature of the association has been unclear, " the lead author of the study, Dr. Sara Sandberg-Thoma from Ohio State University, said according to the Daily Mail. "There's always been a question about which one is the cause and which is the effect. This study provides evidence that poor mental health can lead to casual sex, but also that casual sex leads to additional declines in mental health."

For this study, Sandberg-Thoma and colleagues interviewed about 10,000 people. The first set of interviews was conducted when the participants were from grades 7 to twelve. The participants were interviewed once more when they were between 18 and 26-years-old. The participants were from 80 American schools and 52 middle schools. The interviews asked them about topics such as sexual history, relationships, depression and suicidal ideation.

The researchers calculated that 29 percent of the participants reported engaging in a casual sexual relationship. This type of relationship was defined as having sex with someone without dating. Of this percentage, the researchers found that 33 percent were men and 24 percent were women. For both sexes, the researchers found that for each additional casual sexual relationship the people had, their risk of having suicidal thoughts was increased by 18 percent.

"That was unexpected because there is still this sexual double standard in society that says it is OK for men to have casual sexual relationships, but it is not OK for women," Dr. Claire Kamp Dush, a professor of human sciences at Ohio State University, stated. "But these results suggest that poor mental health and casual sex are linked, whether you're a man or a woman."

The researchers stressed the importance of teaching young adolescents how to develop satisfying relationships. Furthermore, parents and doctors should talk about casual sexual relationships with at-risk adolescents. The study was published in the Journal of Sex Research.

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