There are few natural activities one can take part in that offer as many health benefits and as few risks as having sex. Sex is a very safe, low-impact physical activity that wears little on the joints, bones and muscles. Yet the benefits of sex are far-reaching; it improves the physical, emotional, intellectual, social and psychological health of those who engage in the activity.
The great news about sex is, once pursued, it's desired more and more. Many individuals and couples seeking therapy due to diminished sexual interaction or lack of desire are often told to simply start having sex again in order to regain lost libido.
Besides boosting libido or sex drive, what are some other health benefits of sex? Below are ten of the most common and easily realized positive side effects of sexual intercourse and other intimate activities.
According to Patti Britton, PhD, the author of The Art of Sex Coaching and former president of the American Association for Sexuality Educators, sex is a full-body workout. Dr. Britton says that during sex, "We're releasing and contracting all of the muscles within the body." That is over 600 muscles being used within a short period of time, and with little motivation. While the toning results will not be extreme, it is possible to help keep the body fit with sex as part of your overall fitness regimen. In fact, a University of Quebec at Montreal study goes so far as to legitimize sex as a "significant exercise" due to associated energy exertion and calorie burn.
An American Journal of Cardiology study stated that men who have sex two times per week have a lower risk of cardiovascular disease, as compared to those who do not. It is, however, unclear as to whether having sex twice per week is a benefit of already good heart health, or whether good heart health is the result of having sex twice per week. Regardless, a lower risk of cardiovascular disease for men who have sex twice weekly is one of the top health benefits of sex.
Any woman who has had sex with a man is likely well aware that an orgasm almost immediately helps him sleep. After a few moments of post-coital formalities, the average man is able to quickly doze without much effort. For women, sex often has the opposite immediate effect. However, in the long run and after some reduction of post-sexual energy, women who have sex sleep better too. This is primarily due to the release of the hormone oxytocin during orgasm, a hormone which directly influences sleep.
Relief From Allergy Symptoms
Seasonal allergies got you down? Make it a point to incorporate a little more lovemaking into your life. Surprisingly, sex acts as a natural antihistamine, helping to banish uncomfortable symptoms like sniffing, sneezing and watery eyes.
Lower Blood Pressure
Scottish researchers reported in the journal Biological Psychology that 24 women and 22 men with active sex lives which included intercourse had lower blood pressure than their non-sexual counterparts. Specifically, the study indicated that those who engaged frequently in intercourse exhibited lower blood pressure spikes during stress than those who did not have regular sex, or who only engaged in non-intercourse sexual activity.
Can a stronger immune system really be one of the health benefits of sex? Studies have shown that people who have sex one or more times per week have significantly higher levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), which provides the body's "first line of defense" against disease.
The SAGE Journals reported a study conducted by the Neurology Department of the University of Munster, Germany, which attributed partial or total relief of migraine pain to sexual activity. Sex has also been shown to reduce back, leg, arthritis, menstrual and other types of pain.
Reduction of Prostate Cancer Risk
Men who ejaculate 21 times or more per month have been indicated to have a lower risk of prostate cancer, according to the Journal of the American Medical Association. This area needs further study, but preliminary results show promise.
Improved Intimacy and Relationships
Oxytocin, a hormone also involved in healthy sleep, is known as the "love" hormone. Empathic connections are forged and strengthened as a result of this hormone's release during orgasm, resulting in a tighter bond and feelings of love between partners.
Prevention of Menstrual and Menopausal Problems
Women who engage in frequent sexual activity, whether with a partner or alone, have fewer occurrences of endometriosis. Those who are no longer menstruating have less post-menopausal vaginal dryness than women who do not have regular sex. Sexual activity and orgasm are wonderful for the health of the female reproductive and urinary systems.