Health Benefits of Sex
Reasons why sex is good for you...
1. Improved Immunity
People who have sex frequently (one or two times a week) have significantly higher levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA). Your IgA immune system is your body's first line of defense. Its job is to fight off invading organisms at their entry points, reducing or even eliminating the need for activation of your body's immune system. This may explain why people who have sex frequently also take fewer sick days.
IgA is the antibody that plays a role in preventing illnesses and is the first line of defense against human papillomavirus, or HPV. But those who had sex more than three times a week had the same amount of IgA as those who had infrequent sex. The study suggests that anxiety and stress can possibly cancel out the positive effects of sex.
2. Heart Health
Men who made love regularly (at least twice a week) were 45 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those who did so once a month or less, according to one study. Sexual activity not only provides many of the same benefits to your heart as exercise but also keeps levels of estrogen and testosterone in balance, which is important for heart health.
Just like any physical activity, healthy sex is good for your heart. Several studies have found that your risk of dying from a heart disease event such as stroke or heart attack goes down as the frequency of your good orgasms increase over time.
3. Lower Blood Pressure
Sexual activity, and specifically intercourse, is linked to better stress response and lower blood pressure.
A study carried out in Australia found people who climaxed at least three times a week had a 50% lower chance of dying for any medical reason than those who only climaxed once a month.
4. It's a Form of Exercise
Sex helps to boost your heart rate, burn calories and strengthen muscles, just like exercise. In fact, research recently revealed that sex burns about 4 calories a minute for men and 3 for women, making it (at times) a 'significant' form of exercise. It can even help you to maintain your flexibility and balance.
5. Pain Relief
Sexual activity releases pain-reducing hormones and has been found to help reduce or block back and leg pain, as well as pain from menstrual cramps, arthritis and headaches. One study even found that sexual activity can lead to partial or complete relief of headache in some migraine and cluster-headache patients.
Just looking at your partner (or even a photo of your partner) can help ease pain. When anesthesiologists showed people taking part in a study photos of their romantic partners or photos of attractive strangers, or asked them to engage in a word game, they found that looking at romantic partners significantly dulled the experience of pain. So even though you might think pain is a barrier to sex, consider this one sex benefit worth the time and effort: take a moment to really look at your lover. Other studies have found that women may get some relief from menstrual cramps through a good orgasm.
6. May Help Reduce Risk of Prostate Cancer
Research has shown that men who ejaculate at least 21 times a month (during sex or masturbation) have a lower risk of prostate cancer. This link needs to be explored further, however, as there may have been additional factors involved in the association.
Research has suggested that men may reduce their risk of prostate cancer proportionately to their good orgasms and the stimulation of their testicles. While more research is needed, this would certainly be a welcome sex benefit.
7. Improve Sleep
After sex, the relaxation-inducing hormone prolactin is released, which may help you to nod off more quickly. The "love hormone" oxytocin, released during orgasm, also promotes sleep. Better sleep can contribute to:
- a stronger immune system
- a longer lifespan
- feeling more well-rested
- having more energy during the day
8. Stress Relief
Sex triggers your body to release its natural feel-good chemicals, helping to ease stress and boost pleasure, calm and self-esteem. Research also shows that those who have sexual intercourse responded better when subjected to stressful situations like speaking in public.
Healthy sex offers the same soothing effects of sugary comfort foods when it comes to reducing stress. Researchers theorize that this stress reduction occurs because the pleasure pathways of the brain are triggered by sex (just as they are, for some, by sweet treats) — and it looks like this effect is a little bit more lasting than we often think.
9. Boost Your Libido
The more often you have sex, the more likely you are to want to keep doing it. There's a mental connection there but also a physical one, particularly for women. More frequent sex helps to increase vaginal lubrication, blood flow and elasticity, which in turn make sexual activity more enjoyable.
10. Improved Bladder Control in Women
Intercourse helps to strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which contract during orgasm. This can help women to improve their bladder control and avoid incontinence. You can boost this benefit even more by practicing Kegel exercises during sex (a Kegel squeeze is performed by drawing your lower pelvic muscles up and holding them up high and tight, as if you're trying to stop a flow of urine).
11. Increase Intimacy and Improve Your Relationship
Sex and orgasms result in increased levels of the hormone oxytocin -- the "love" hormone -- that helps you feel bonded to your partner, and better experience empathic connections.
12. How Sex Benefits All Genders
In men a recent review found that men who had more frequent penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI) had less risk of developing prostate cancer. One study found that men who averaged having 4.6 to 7 ejaculations a week were 36 percent less likely to receive a prostate cancer diagnosis before the age of 70. This is in comparison to men who reported ejaculating 2.3 or fewer times a week on average.
For men, sex may even affect your mortality. One study that had a 10 year follow-up reported that men who had frequent orgasms (defined as two or more a week) had a 50 percent lower mortality risk than those who had sex less often. Although results are conflicting, the quality and health of your sperm may increase with increased sexual activity, as some research suggests.
13. In women having an orgasm increases blood flow and releases natural pain-relieving chemicals.
Sexual activity in women can:
- improve bladder control
- reduce incontinence
- relieve menstrual and premenstrual cramps
- improve fertility
- build stronger pelvic muscles
- help produce more vaginal lubrication
- potentially protect you against endometriosis, or the growing of tissue outside your uterus
The act of sex can help strengthen your pelvic floor. A strengthened pelvic floor can also offer benefits like less pain during sex and reduced chance of a vaginal prolapse. One study shows that PVI can result in reflexive vaginal contractions caused by penile thrusting.
Women who continue to be sexually active after menopause are less likely to have significant vaginal atrophy, or the thinning of vaginal walls. Vaginal atrophy can cause pain during sex and urinary symptoms.
14. How can sex benefit your mental health?
Sexual activity, with a partner or through masturbation, can provide important psychological and emotional benefits. Like exercise, sex can help reduce stress and anxiety and increase happiness.
Studies suggest that sexual activity (defined as PVI) may correlate with:
- increased satisfaction with your mental health
- increased levels of trust, intimacy, and love in your relationships
- improved ability to perceive, identify, and express emotions
- lessened use of your immature psychological defense mechanism, or the mental processes to reduce distress from emotional conflict
At an older age, sexual activity may affect your well-being and ability to think. Research found that sexually active adults between 50 to 90 years old had better memory. They were also less likely to feel depressed and lonely.
Frequent sexual activity, whether with a partner or alone, can make you look younger. This is partially due to the release of estrogen during sex.
One study found a correlation between frequent sexual activity and looking significantly younger (between seven to 12 years younger). The majority of these individuals were also comfortable expressing their sexuality and sexual identity.
Sex can help you connect to your partner, thanks to oxytocin. Oxytocin can play a role in developing relationships. You may find that consistent, mutual sexual pleasure helps with bonding within a relationship. Coupled partners often have increased relationship satisfaction when they fulfill one another's sexual desires. You may find positive growth in your relationship when you’re able to express yourself and your sexual desires.