Sex is a taboo yet ubiquitous topic in our society. Many of us choose to largely ignore it, or blush when it is brought up in public. Certainly sexual activity is not a proper topic for dinnertime conversation. Yet sexual energy is all around us, plastered on billboards, suggested in advertisements, and walking down the street.
Allow us to take this squeamish topic and strip it down a little (pun intended!). It’s not all vulgarity and lust — sex is one of the healthiest things we can do! Despite prudish societal norms, the wellness benefits of a little hanky panky are wide-ranging and impressive.
Here are eight compelling reasons you should shamelessly make time for some sweet lovin’ on a regular basis.
Sex lowers your blood pressure and improves your stress response
A research team from Scotland found that people who had recently engaged in sexual activity showed a less significant rise in stress hormones and blood pressure when performing a challenging task. Conversely, those who hadn’t had sex in the past two weeks showed less ability to handle stress, with a greater increase in blood pressure and cortisol.
Another recent study showed that men who made love regularly (at least twice a week) were 45 percent less likely to develop heart disease than those who did so once a month or less. A further study found that those who reported a low frequency of sexual intercourse (less than once a month) had twice the rate of fatal coronary incidences than those who had sex often.
Take this quote from a 10-year study performed in Wales: “Even when controlling for other factors such as age, social class, and smoking status, a strong and statistically significant inverse relationship was found between orgasm frequency and risk of death. The authors of this study conclude that sexual activity seems to have a protective effect on men’s health.”
That really says it all, doesn’t it! Sex can save your life, so make time for it, and often!
These life-protecting benefits are thanks to the increased oxygenation of the blood and complete mind distraction that we get during intercourse (and particularly orgasm). Research has indicated that this beneficial boost may go on for as long as a week!
Sex improves your immune system and hormones
A study showed that people engaging in intercourse once or twice a week had 300 percent more of an important antibody called immunoglobulin A, as compared to those having no sex or infrequent sex.
Hormone balance benefits too — one study found that menopausal women experienced fewer hot flashes when they had more frequent sexual encounters. Men also benefit from healthier levels of testosterone from frequent sex (at least eight times per month). This is thanks to a regulatory effect on hormones when we engage in intimacy. Improved estrogen and testosterone balance results in a younger appearance with healthier skin and hair.
Further, having an orgasm stimulates the release of a hormone called dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA), which improves immunity and encourages skin and tissue repair.
All of this was confirmed by a study done at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital in Scotland, where researchers viewed people through a one-way mirror and guessed their ages. It was determined that those with a steady partner and consistent sexual practices were judged as seven to 12 years younger than their less sexually active counterparts. Therefore, sexual activity allows you to stay younger and healthier looking for longer!
Having sex makes for better pelvic floor health
Pelvic floor muscles contract during orgasm, which can improve bladder control, and help men and women to avoid incontinence. A strong pelvic floor is also advantageous during pregnancy, to support carrying the baby to term and protecting the organs during the birth process.
Sex counts as exercise
As you probably know, making love boosts heart rate, which in turn burns calories and strengthens muscles. It may even improve flexibility and balance, depending on how creative you get!
The most intense parts of sexual exertion equate to walking about five miles per hour, which is a respectable moderate pace and a safe exercise intensity for anybody. If you’re wondering about the calories burned, we’re looking at an average of a little over 100 calories per 30 minutes of activity.
Sex relieves pain and inflammatory disorders
A number of clinical studies indicate that regular sexual activity relieves discomforts such as back pain, menstrual cramps, arthritis, migraines and cluster headaches. The endorphins that are released after sex have a similar chemical structure to opiate drugs, so you get a rush of good feelings and pain relief.
Other research shows that sex also helps conditions such as endometriosis, infertility, menstrual cycle irregularity, premature birth, and depression. That’s amazing!
Sex helps you sleep better
Hormones called prolactin and oxytocin are released during sex, which induce relaxation and promote sleep. This is a good reason to make time for intimacy the night before a big presentation or exam, so that you can have a good restorative sleep.
Sex improves connection
Studies show that couples who practice more loving intimacy have higher oxytocin levels. Oxytocin helps you feel bonded to your partner, and a deeper connection encourages greater empathy. Couples that fulfill each other’s sexual needs demonstrate much higher levels of relationship satisfaction.
This is true not only of intercourse, but other simple acts of love and caring as well. One study showed that a 20-second hug with anyone you care about reduces tension and improves mood considerably.
Sex improves confidence and mood
People who have sex more often deal with stressful situations such as public speaking more effectively. This is because sex makes us feel desirable and capable, like we’ve accomplished something worthwhile. It improves body image and lessens anxiety.
Another unexpected benefit is a result of exposure to ejaculate fluid. It turns out that semen contains lots of mood-boosting substances such as endorphins, oxytocin, serotonin and prolactin, which are absorbed by vaginal tissue. It also contains a protein known to reduce the chance of preeclampsia, which is a high blood pressure condition affecting pregnant women.
Sex makes you beautiful
We all know the “morning after” look — a loved-up person has a glow to their skin and a sparkle to their eyes that no amount of makeup can imitate. This is because of the post-sex boost to micro-circulation throughout all of the body’s tissues, plus the flow of healing hormones. After sex, we actually produce a significantly higher amount of biological substances like DHEA, which helps heal skin from damage and makes you look younger. Increased DHEA levels are also correlated with lower risk of heart disease.
Sex may help prevent cancer
It is theorized that, for men, sex may decrease the risk of prostate cancer thanks to a flushing of potential carcinogenic substances from the prostate.
Women benefit from contractions in the cervical area, which can help improve circulation to these tissues and prevent growth of abnormal cells on the cervix.
Women also gain an advantage over breast cancer by having more sex, as suggested by at least four different scientific studies. The protective effect is thought to come from oxytocin and DHEA, and potentially from an immune response to sperm.
Now that you’re acquainted with the impressive, varied, and sometimes surprising benefits of sex, the next step seems clear. Go home and shack up with your honey!
If you need a little natural aphrodisiac power, try this ancient South American herb. Enjoy!
—The Alternative Daily