Can you handle the heat: Will climate change affect our sex lives?

With the world’s temperatures set to rapidly increase we’re going to be facing a whole series of problems, but I want to answer the real questions: what’s it going to do to our sex life?

It’s well known that in Northern climates more babies tend to be conceived during the winter months, probably because more people are staying inside and drinking too much eggnog, becoming more lax with their contraception. So, if more babies are conceived during the winter months, does that mean as the climate gets hotter we’re going to be having less sex?

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Well it’s a little unclear. Looking at the US, the states where people reportedly have the most sex is Alaska and Texas, the coldest and hottest states, so what exactly is going on?

The US National Bureau of Economic Research designed a nifty little way to test what the effect of the hottest days of the year had on people, as they put it, “engaging in coitous”. They looked though the weather records for the years 1931-2010 and looked at all the days that were unusually hot, above 80⁰F or 27⁰C, and compared it to the American birth records 9 months after.

The results? Well, while there was a drop in the numbers of babies born, it was a decrease of about 0.4%, which in the grand scheme of things isn’t that much to worry about. The report also showed that in the next few months, there was also an increase in the numbers of babies being born which helped to level it out. The use of air conditioners in the US since the 70s have also probably helped combat it being too hot to handle. In fact, it’s actually one of the ways the study suggests we improve our sex lives, science is always there for you!

While the study focuses on the US, worldwide the trend seems to be the hotter the country, the higher the birth-rate. Most of the countries that have the world’s highest birth-rates are dotted around the equator. However, they are also all mostly African countries, so their high birth rate may have more to do with culture than temperature.

However, as with many things, your willingness to get into bed when it’s hot outside may all be relative to where you live. We may be less likely to want to engage in strenuous activity when it’s hot out, but only when it’s a particularly hot day for you. Anyone who has ever been friends with an international student will know how much they complained about how cold it was when they first arrived in September and we all laugh, knowing how much worse it will get. Well, it will probably be the same in future even if your country's average temperature increases. It would be better if more countries were looked at to compare their hottest days to their birth rate.

But apart from some small links to hot days and less babies, can science tell us anything else about how the temperature affects our sex life? There are actually quite a few links between hot temperatures positively or negatively affecting things like sperm production and menstruation. Sunlight may actually help to boost a woman’s sex drive. Melanocyte Stimulating Hormone, nicknamed ‘viagra for women’ by Nature, is a naturally occurring hormone that has been shown to increase female sex drive as the level of the hormone increases when you’re in the sun, talk about summer lovin’! Serotonin and Dopamine, the happy hormones, increase in concentration during the summer and are responsible for increasing male and female sex drive, these also decrease in the winter.

While hormones may increase your sex drive in the summer, your brain may decrease it in the winter. If you’re feeling ill and bit fed up at the moment due to the bad weather, you may be affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder or SAD. While SAD can make you feel depressed and restless it can also be a major turn off even when you’re out of the freezing cold.

So Climate change may not be able to quench our sex life, but one things for sure, when the days get hot, we’d rather be having an ice cream than letting off steam.

#CharlotteAtherton #ClimateChange #Sex

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