When you fool around with your honey-bunny, you do more than have a good time: you’re making an investment in your health! Here are ten wonderful health benefits of sex that should inspire you to write yourself a prescription for sweet, sweet lovin’.
1. Lower stress levels and blood pressure
Several studies have suggested that sex can lower your stress levels and your blood pressure.
Participants in a Scottish study logged their sexual activity and were then put in stressful situations such as speaking in public and doing math out loud. When their blood pressure was measured, those who had had intercourse showed better stress response than those who engaged in other sexual behaviors or were abstinent.
Another study found that diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number of your reading) tends to be lower in people who live together and have regular sex.
Why the health benefits of sex intercourse are different from other sexual behavior remains a mystery. But fear not if you and your spouse prefer non-intercourse sex: any sexual activity also releases a flood of dopamine and other pleasurable chemicals in your body that promotes feelings of comfort and calm.
2. Sex boosts immunity
Researchers at Wilkes University study quizzed 112 college students on how often they had sex and had them provide saliva samples for the study. Those who had sex once or twice a week had the highest levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A, or IgA, which plays a role in preventing infections like the flu.
The stress-reducing health benefits of sex also keep you from getting sick, since stress, anxiety and depression can all impair your immune system.
3. You can get a workout
Recent studies have revealed that sex isn’t the calorie torcher that some have claimed it to be. At the same time, thirty minutes of “average activity” burns 85 calories or more. Forty-two half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, which is more than enough to lose a pound. Plus, sex makes you feel vital, energetic, and more confident, all of which reinforce other healthy physical activities. And vice versa: the more fit you get, the better sex you tend to have.
At the same time, if you really want to have great sex, I suggest not worrying about how many calories it is burning.
4. Improved Heart Health
After following a group of men for two decades, British researchers found that those who had sex two or more times per week were half as likely to die from a heart attack than men who had sex less than once a month.
And for older adults: sex does not increase the chances of a stroke. The study found no link between how often men had sex and how likely they were to have a stroke.
5. Better Self-Esteem
Some people use sex to raise their self-esteem in a way that is not psychologically healthy. If your self-worth is completely attached to sex, it may be best to talk to a counselor. At the same time, loving, consensual and pleasurable sex will reinforce a healthy self-esteem. Having sex with your spouse can make you feel powerful, loved, desired and fulfilled. Keep at it!
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6. Deeper Intimacy with your partner
Sex and orgasms release oxytocin, a hormone which helps humans and other mammals bond and build trust. (Incidentally it plays a crucial role in childbirth and infant-bonding too!)
Oxytocin also encourages generosity.
Because of its powers to reduce stress and build bonds, sex can be used as a tool for stressful times. For example: If you and your spouse are on a difficult trip visiting family, try setting aside time to make love before you go to bed, even if you aren’t much in the mood. You may find yourself relaxed, renewed, and better equipped to face challenges as a team.
7. Pain management
Another function of oxytocin is to boost pain-controlling hormones called endorphins. Oxytocin has been found to cut our pain threshold by more than half in a simple finger-prick study. So, in reality, sex is a cure for a headache! Guess we’ll have to find another excuse when we’re not in the mood…
8. More Ejaculations May reduce your risk of Prostate Cancer
One study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association reported that men who ejaculated 21 or more times a month were less likely to get prostate cancer over their lifetimes than those who had only four to seven ejaculations a month.
Of course, developing cancer is a complicated outcome with many factors. At the same time, even when researchers took multiple other factors into consideration, ejaculations still seemed to matter. In the end, it doesn’t seem odd that sexual functioning is part of the body’s health maintenance system.
9. Stronger Pelvic Floor Muscles
Women’s pelvic floor muscles are important for preventing incontinence, easing childbirth, and, potentially, increasing sexual pleasure. More sex means stronger pelvic floor muscles! Exercises called Kegels can also strengthen this muscle group. To do a basic Kegel exercise, tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine and draw up into the center of your body. Count to three, release for eight, and repeat.
10. Better Sleep
Oxytocin is basically the best hormone ever. Not only does it promote pair-bonding and help you manage pain, it soothes you to sleep. This is why you tend to get drowsy after an orgasm (that, and the workout you just got!). Sleep is an incredibly essential (and in our fast-paced society, undervalued) activity for everything from immunity, stress and weight management, to controlling blood pressure.