Have you lost the appetite for kissing in your relationship? Are you the type that just “air kiss” than “actually kissing” type when greeting your friends? Do you shy away when you see your aunt coming in for a big kiss at family events? It may be time to pucker up!
Turns out that kissing — even when it’s your family and friends — has countless number of mental and physical benefits that make getting your smooch on totally worth it. Here’s what the science says.
1. It boosts your ‘happy hormones’
Kissing triggers your brain to release a cocktail of chemicals that leave you feeling oh so good by igniting the pleasure centers of the brain.
2. Which helps you bond with the other person
Oxytocin is a chemical linked to pair bonding. The rush of oxytocin released when you kiss causes feelings of affection and attachment. Kissing your partner can improve relationship satisfaction and may be extremely important when you are in a long-term relationships.
3. And has a tangible impact on your self-esteem
In addition to boosting your happy hormones, kissing can reduce your cortisol levels — potentially improving your feelings of self-worth.
Researchers in one 2016 study found that participants who were unhappy with their physical appearance had higher cortisol levels.
Although more research is needed, experiencing a temporary drop in cortisol each time you kiss isn’t a bad way to pass the time.[Read: What Your Body Hair Reveals About Your Health]
4. It also relieves stress
Speaking of cortisol, kissing also lowers cortisol levels and stress. Kissing and other affectionate communication, like hugging and saying “I love you,” impacts the physiological processes related to stress management.
5. And reduces anxiety
Stress management includes how well you handle stress and anxiety. There’s nothing quite like a kiss and some affection to help calm you. Oxytocin decreases anxiety and increases relaxation and wellness.
6. It dilates your blood vessels, which helps reduce your blood pressure
Kissing increases your heart rate in a way that dilates your blood vessels, according to Andrea Demirjian, author of the book, “Kissing: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know About One of Life’s Sweetest Pleasures.”
When your blood vessels dilate, your blood flow increases and causes an immediate decrease in your blood pressure. So this means that kissing is good for the heart, literally and metaphorically![Read: 4 Period Symptoms No One Ever Talks About]
7. This can also help relieve cramps
The effect of dilated blood vessels and increased blood flow can help relieve cramps — a boost in feel-good chemicals and relief from period cramps? Getting your smooch on when you’re in the throes of a bad period might just be worth it.
8. And soothe headaches
Kiss the “not tonight dear, I have a headache” excuse goodbye. That dilation of blood vessels and lowered blood pressure can also relieve headaches. Kissing may also help you prevent headaches by lowering stress, which is a known headache trigger.
9. It can boost your immune system
Swapping spit can boost your immunity by exposing you to new germs that strengthen your immune system. One 2014 study found that couples that kiss frequently share the same microbiota in their saliva and on their tongues.
10. And reduce allergic response
Kissing has been shown to provide significant relief from hives and other signs of allergic reaction associated with pollen and household dust mites. Stress also worsens allergic reactions, so kissing’s effect on stress may also reduce allergic response that way.
11. It’s tied to improvements in total cholesterol
One 2009 study found that couples who increased the frequency of romantic kissing experienced improvement in their total serum cholesterol. Keeping your cholesterol in check lowers your risk of several diseases, including heart disease and stroke.
12. It even helps prevent cavities by increasing saliva production
Kissing stimulates your salivary glands, which increases saliva production. Saliva lubricates your mouth, aids in swallowing, and helps keep food debris from sticking to your teeth, which can help prevent tooth decay and cavities.
13. It’s a solid barometer for physical compatibility with a romantic partner
Turns out the 1964 classic “The Shoop Shoop Song” was right — it’s in his kiss! One 2013 study found that kissing may help you assess the suitability of a potential partner. According to women surveyed, a first kiss can basically make it or break it when it comes to her attraction.[Read: How To Stop Your Period Early]
14. And kissing a romantic partner boosts your sex drive
Romantic kissing leads to sexual arousal and is often the driving force behind a woman’s decision to have sex with someone. Saliva also contains testosterone — a sex hormone that plays a role in sexual arousal. The longer and more passionately you kiss, the more testosterone gets released.
15. The more you kiss, the more you tighten and tone your facial muscles
The act of kissing can involve anywhere from 2 to 34 facial muscles. Kissing often and using these muscles on the regular acts like a workout for your face — and neck if you’re really into it!
This may help firm up your facial muscles. Working out your facial muscles can also increase collagen production, which contributes to firmer, younger-looking skin.
16. It even burns calories
Using those facial muscles also burns calories. You can burn anywhere from 2 to 26 calories per minute depending on how passionately you kiss. This may not be the best workout regime if you’re trying to lose weight, but it sure beats sweating on the elliptical trainer!
Kissing, regardless of whom you’re kissing, can have a positive impact on your emotional and physical wellbeing.
Kissing makes both parties feel good about themselves and can help strengthen relationships of all kinds, so kiss and kiss often. It’s good for you!