8 Ways Sex Is Great For Improving Your Health

Are you looking for one activity that can improve your health, both mentally and physically? According to a considerable, and growing body of research, sexual activity is good for you in a variety of ways.

There are just a couple caveats. The partners should be willing participants, on board with the type of activity in which they engage.

Studies have found a wide range of better psychological and physiological health effects associated specifically with penile–vaginal intercourse. Other sexual activities, however, can have weaker benefits, no benefits at all, or (in the cases of masturbation and anal intercourse) negative associations with health. Condom use also seems to impair some benefits of penile–vaginal intercourse.

After taking of that into account, let’s look at the health benefits of sex.

Sex is good for your immune system.

Research shows that people who have sex one or two times per week have more Type A antibodies in their saliva. They help prevent illnesses and may defend against human papilloma virus (HPV.)

The reported effects of sex on the immune system are highly variable, however, differing across the sexes as well as across other factors, such as mental health. Some of these differences may be due to the changes in immune function that occur across the menstrual cycle, which may have implications for fertility.

Sex improves sleep.

An orgasm causes the release of the hormone oxytocin, which can help you fall asleep and experience deep, restorative sleep. More restful sleep also supports your immune system.

When asked about how sex (either alone or with a partner) affects their sleep, most people say that they sleep better after having an orgasm. They also say that they fall asleep faster. So, people think that sex is a good sleep aid.

Couple sleeping in bed

Sex enhances heart health.

A study indicates that women who have sex frequently are less likely to experience cardiovascular disease. Sex can improve endurance and tends to be associated with more healthful eating. Unexpectedly, the same study warns that men who experience heart disease symptoms should speak to their physician about their risk for cardiac events during sex.

There is some evidence to suggest that more sexual activity reduces stroke and heart disease risk in middle-aged men (ages 45-59). There is also some evidence for improved heart rate variability and a lower death rate for people who engage in vaginal intercourse.

In addition, people who have more sex are less likely to die of heart attacks or other causes, but some of that could be attributed to the fact that healthier people may be more likely to be having more sex — as one study suggests.

Research also suggests that there is a link between sexual intercourse and lowering of blood pressure, specifically the systolic pressure (the top number of a blood pressure reading).

Sex burns calories.

It’s a form of moderate exercise, likened to a brisk walk or climbing stairs. It isn’t enough to meet the exercise recommendations of the American Heart Association, which are 150 minutes of aerobic exercise per week, in addition to weight training twice a week. Sex can burn five calories per minute – four calories more per minute than watching television.

Sex can decrease pain.

Research shows that sex can cause the release of endorphins, hormones which suppress pain. Vaginal stimulation has been found to block chronic back and leg pain. Women report that self-stimulation can relieve menstrual cramps, arthritis and headaches.

Sex may decrease the risk for prostate cancer.

Men who ejaculate at least 21 times per month were less likely to get prostate cancer, according to a study in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Older couple in bed

Sex can raise self-esteem.

How people feel about themselves is linked to their experience of sexual enjoyment. Young people who enjoy sex more also experience higher self-esteem and a greater sense of autonomy. It wouldn’t be surprising if feeling better about yourself improves your ability to enjoy sex, as well as vice versa.

Sex reduces stress.

Some people find sex to be a good stress reliever. That can be demonstrated biologically. Several studies have looked at the effects of sex on the stress hormone cortisol.

One study looked at the effects of intimacy on the stress levels of 183 heterosexual couples. What they found was that, in times of stress, higher levels of partner intimacy made it easier to cope (for women), and to recover (for both).

Interestingly, this and other studies have suggested that it’s not just sex that reduces stress — it’s affection and other types of intimacy. The connection appears to be just as important as the activity. The association goes both ways. Sex reduces stress and makes people happier, and happier, less stressed people have more sex.

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