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The benefits of sex extend far beyond the bedroom…
Sex not only feels good, it’s good for your health. A regular sex life helps improve high blood pressure, anxiety levels, headaches…and so much more.
We all have dry spells. And for all kinds of reasons. Maybe you’re busier than usual with work or family. Or perhaps you’re not happy with your partner or without one at the moment. Maybe you just want a break. Whatever the reason, it’s OK. But don’t let the situation go on too long. Long periods of time without sex can negatively effect your body and some parts of your life. Here’s why.
Regular sex helps you bond with your partner over the long term and leads to emotional closeness. Feeling close to someone often opens the door to good communication. You may feel less connected to each other if you don’t have sex. The reason may be that oxytocin, a hormone often referred to as the “love hormone”, increases during hugging and orgasm. Better sleep is an added benefit of oxytocin. In general, couples who have sex regularly tend to report they are happier than those who don’t. If things go well for you and your significant other in the bedroom, those positive feelings likely filter into other areas of your relationship.
Aches and pains
Sex serves as a great distraction to take your mind off aches and pains. Orgasm causes your body to release endorphins and other hormones that help ease head, back, and leg aches, and arthritis. Studies suggest sex may also be a natural way to treat migraine headaches because the hormones can increase your pain tolerance, at least temporarily.
Anxiety and stress
Though sex might be the last thing on your mind when stressed, it might just help lower your anxiety level. The endorphins released can reduce stress in addition to pain. And since a stronger, more intimate relationship often accompanies a satisfactory sex life, you may find you can cope better with the angst in your life with support from your partner.
Sex counts as exercise. Obviously it’s not the same as running a mini-marathon, but it does count. Typically, sex burns about five calories a minute, which is approximately equal to what you burn with a ping pong game or a brisk walk. You also use oxygen when you engage in sex; about the same amount you use to dig in the garden or walk downstairs. It may not sound like much, but it adds up. And think about it – it is more exercise than you get when you sit on the couch and watch TV.
Studies show people who have regular sex suffer heart disease less often than those who don’t, though we are not entirely sure why that’s the case. It may be because sex provides a bit of exercise. However, it might also be that if you routinely have sex you may be physically and mentally healthier in the first place.
Some men worry sexual activity can cause heart attacks; however, careful studies show the actual risk is very low. Fewer than one out of every 100 heart attacks in healthy males is due to sex, and for fatal arrhythmias, abnormalities of the heart’s pumping rhythm, the rate is one in 200. The risk for men with heart disease is higher, but the odds are still slim- at least during conventional sex with a familiar partner. In general, if you can walk two to three flights of stairs without difficulty, you are in shape enough to have sex.
Blood Pressure Control
Can sex keep your blood pressure under control? Possibly. Lower numbers may result from the exercise involved, or because sex also seems to ease anxiety levels. Why not take advantage of this pleasurable way to try to positively impact your blood pressure?
Studies are still in the early stages, but sex may be a way to improve short term memory. Intimacy may give you a boost by providing stimulation in areas of the brain associated with memory, such as the hippocampus.
You immune system
Weekly sex appears to boost your immune system, though results from studies are not yet definitive. Part of the reason may be that sex raises levels of immunoglobulin A, or IgA, a germ-fighting substance that protects against colds and flu. People who report they have sex once or twice a week have higher IgA readings than those who have sex less than once a week or not at all.
THE BOTTOM LINE
The benefits of sex are many in the context of a loving relationship. Make time to connect with your partner regularly for optimal well-being.
Keep in mind that relationships with a low frequency of sex is not a problem unless both partners perceive it to be one. In some cases, physical touch does not necessarily lead to intercourse for a variety of reasons, but still provides satisfying warm and fuzzy feelings. A couple’s sex life is as individual and unique as their situation.
That said, if you both enjoy sex and have no medical reasons not to engage, we certainly recommend it on a weekly basis.
DISCLOSURE: The information contained in this article are the opinions of the writer and not intended as medical advice. Always check with your doctor about your medical issues and activity limitations important to your overall health.
originally published 5.29.2020