When you’re in the mood, it’s a sure bet that the last thing on your mind is boosting your immune system or maintaining a healthy weight. Yet good sex offers those health benefits and more. That’s a surprise to many people, says Joy Davidson, PhD, a New York psychologist and sex therapist. ‘Of course, sex is everywhere in the media,’ she says. ‘But the idea that we are vital, sexual creatures is still looked at in some cases with disgust or in other cases a bit of embarrassment. So to really take a look at how our sexuality adds to our life and enhances our life and our health, both physical and psychological, is eye-opening for many people.’
Sex does a body good in a number of ways, according to experts. The benefits aren’t just anecdotal or hearsay — each of these health benefits of sex is backed by scientific scrutiny.
1. Sex Relieves Stress
A big health benefit of sex is lower blood pressure and overall stress reduction, according to researchers from Scotland who reported their findings in the journal Biological Psychology. They studied 24 women and 22 men who kept records of their sexual activity. Then the researchers subjected them to stressful situations — such as speaking in public and doing verbal arithmetic — and noted their blood pressure response to stress. Those who had intercourse had better responses to stress than those who engaged in other sexual behaviours or abstained.”
2. Sex Helps You Sleep Better
The oxytocin released during orgasm also promotes sleep, according to research and getting enough sleep has been linked with a host of other good things, such as maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure.
This is something to think about, especially if you’ve been wondering why your guy can be active one minute and snore the next.
3. Sex Strengthens Pelvic Floor Muscles
For women, doing a few pelvic floor muscle exercises known as Kegel exercises during sex offers a couple of benefits. You will enjoy more pleasure, and you’ll also strengthen the area and help to minimize the risk of incontinence later in life.
To do a basic Kegel exercise, tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor, as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine. Count to three, then release.
Kegel exercises have a number of proven health benefits in addition to making sex more enjoyable. The strengthening of the pelvic floor muscles can help prevent prolapse (a slipping out of position) of the vagina, uterus, and bladder. Pelvic floor muscles may be weakened later in life as a result of childbearing, being overweight, and aging. Kegel exercises help offset the consequences of weakened pelvic floor muscles.
4. Sex Reduces Prostate Cancer Risk
Frequent ejaculations, especially in 20-something men, may reduce the risk of prostate cancer later in life, Australian researchers reported in the British Journal of Urology International. When they followed men diagnosed with prostate cancer and those without, they found no association of prostate cancer with the number of sexual partners as the men reached their 30s, 40s, and 50s.
But they found men who had five or more ejaculations weekly while in their 20s reduced their risk of getting prostate cancer later by a third.
Another study, reported in the Journal of the American Medical Association, found that frequent ejaculations, 21 or more a month, were linked to lower prostate cancer risk in older men, as well, compared with less frequent ejaculations of four to seven monthly.
5. Sex Reduces Pain
As the hormone oxytocin surges, endorphins increase, and pain declines. So if your headache, arthritis pain, or PMS symptoms seem to improve after sex, you can thank those higher oxytocin levels.
A study published in the Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine examined the response of the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin on pain perception in an experiment with 48 volunteers. Study participants inhaled oxytocin vapor and then had their fingers pricked. Those who had inhaled oxytocin lowered their pain threshold by more than half.
Thanks to Oxytocin, the love hormone.
6. Sex Improves Intimacy
Having sex and orgasms increases levels of the hormone oxytocin, the so-called love hormone, which helps us bond and build trust. Researchers from the University of Pittsburgh and the University of North Carolina evaluated 59 premenopausal women before and after warm contact with their husbands and partners ending with hugs. They found that the more contact, the higher the oxytocin levels.
Oxytocin allows us to feel the urge to nurture
7. Sex Strengthens Your Well-Being
Sex, like any activity that fosters a close and loving connection to your partner, not only raises self-esteem; it also strengthens your overall sense of well-being. Studies have shown that people with strong social support networks (which include lovers) are healthier and happier than their less-connected peers.