The link between marriage and health has been hotly debated by researchers—does marriage actually cause better health, or are healthier people just statistically more likely to get married? Many researchers believe that marriage does indeed cause better health outcomes. This is thought to be because a caring partner is likely to encourage positive health practices. A loving relationship also acts as a stress reliever, and stress is responsible for a surprisingly large proportion of diseases. Previous research has shown that being married in and of itself has heart-protecting and life-lengthening qualities. Now, a new study confirms that heart health risk factors are impacted by changing relationship quality in married men. 

Does Relationship Quality Play a Role?

Researchers have now investigated whether the quality of marriage and not just marital status by itself affects health. A recent study on the topic was published in the Journal of Epidemiology & Community Health. The scientists used data gathered from a period of 19 years, comparing men’s reports of relationship quality to the incidence of their health problems. The results of the study showed that men with good relationships that still continued to improve even more as time went on were healthier than men who had a good marriage that remained at the same level of quality over the years. By contrast, the men whose romantic relationships got worse as time went on showed lower health outcomes, even lower than men with bad-quality relationships that stayed bad but didn’t get any worse.

Other Ways Relationships Affect Health

Quality of Sex Life and Relationships Affect HealthMuch other research has investigated the links between romantic relationships and health. Previous studies have shown that relationships can lengthen your life and provide a range of health benefits. But, why exactly is this? The answer lies in a combination of physical and psychological factors. Experiencing stress is a risk factor for virtually all diseases; this makes sense considering that stress weakens the immune system. Stress is also linked to inflammation, depression, infections and autoimmune disorders.

Affectionate physical contact of any kind, including sex, is a great stress reliever. Having a healthy and happy relationship where this loving touch takes place frequently is very relaxing on a basic physical level. Feel-good hormones (such as oxytocin, endorphins and serotonin) are released and stress hormones (namely, cortisol) decrease. Affectionate touch is not only beneficial for health, but for the relationship itself; the oxytocin released during this touch is responsible for emotional bonding between people. 

The psychosocial aspects of being in a relationship also act as a buffer against stress. Having a strong social support system is great for emotional health and recuperating from stressful events. A healthy romantic relationship is one of the best types of support systems.

The Importance of Sex

The health benefits of romantic relationships are not just due to the stress relief. Having a healthy sex life in your relationship will provide even more benefits. Not only is sex a more potent oxytocin-stimulator and stress-reliever than simple affectionate touch, but it also has its own unique health benefits. Research has found that sex can lower your blood pressure, improve your heart health, prevent headaches, improve sleep quality, reduce your risk of stroke and reduce men’s risk of prostate cancer, among many other benefits.

Scientists have also found links between sex and mental health. Having intercourse is associated with better mental well-being, better emotional intelligence and dealing with conflict in more mature ways. A good sex life can reduce your risk of feeling lonely or depressed. Sex could even improve your memory, especially if you are an older adult.

So, naturally, to get the most health benefits out of your relationship, a healthy sex life is in order. The sex you have should be high quality as well as frequent. However, don’t think you have to have sex every day in order to get maximum health benefits. Research has shown that although having sex once per week is much better than having it less frequently, having sex multiple times a week is not necessarily any better than once a week.

As for the quality of sex, there are many ways you can improve this. There are two things that are arguably the most important for having great sex: Open communication with your partner about each other’s likes and dislikes and the willingness to satisfy your partner’s preferences even if you do not share these preferences. Setting aside a good hour or two each week for satisfying sex can make a huge difference in your relationship quality, and therefore in your health as well.

One common problem that gets in the way of a couple having frequent, satisfying sex is a lack of sex drive. This can be especially common as you get older, or even when you simply have been in a relationship for a long time. Medical problems, mental health problems and stress can also decrease your interest in lovemaking. In addition to addressing any medical, mental health or stress-related problems, a great way to boost your sex drive is to take a supplement with scientifically proven ingredients such as maca, zinc, fenugreek or Panax ginseng. A healthy lifestyle that includes regular exercise, a healthy diet and plenty of sleep will also help you optimize your libido, leading to a better relationship and better overall health.

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