Unlocking Wellness: The 10 Surprising Health Benefits of Sex
Engaging in consensual and safe sexual activity can have various health benefits for individuals. Here are 10 potential health benefits of sex, as shown by research.
1. Improved Heart Health
In a study conducted by the New England Research Institute, men who have sex at least twice a week decrease their risk of heart disease by 45%. Having sex boosts your heart rate while also keeping your testosterone and estrogen levels in balance. When one of these hormones is low or when you’re not exercising, your risk of developing heart disease increases.
2. Reduced Stress
During sexual activity, endorphins and feel-good hormones (dopamine, serotonin, oxytocin) are released. Dopamine is associated with the reward-system of our brains while Serotonin in the brain is thought to regulate anxiety, happiness, and mood, and oxytocin is associated with empathy, trust, and relationship-building. These activate pleasure centers in the brain that create feelings of intimacy and relaxation and help stave off anxiety and depression. You don't have to climax to net the effects, but you'll get the biggest surge of soothing hormones if you have an orgasm.
3. Pain Relief
Sex can have pain-relieving benefits because orgasming releases dopamine, serotonin, and oxytocin, the bodies feel-good hormones and neurotransmitters, into the body. In fact, one classic study by famous sexologist Beverly Whipple, Ph.D., R.N., found that vaginal stimulation can actually increase someone's pain tolerance threshold by over 40%. The endorphin and hormone release isn't going to heal an injury or other serious medical issue, but it can help lower your pain sensitivity. This can also help if you’re experiencing period cramps.
4. Improved Memory and Cognitive Functioning
The Archives of Sexual Behavior published a study conducted on heterosexual women aged 18-29 years revealed a link between sexual frequency and improved memory of abstract words. Remembering words largely depends on your hippocampus, and sexual activity promotes adult neurogenesis in the hippocampus, thus sharpening your memory. Another study links frequent sex with better memory performance in adults ages 50 and older, which can help circumvent a cognitive decline as you age.
In one 2017 study published in the Journals of Gerontology, researchers had 73 people over the age of 50 complete a cognitive assessment and a questionnaire about how often they get it on (solo or with a partner). And what did they find? That those who had sex more frequently score way higher on the memory and verbal fluency tests, compared to infrequent copulators.
5. Boosted Immunity
With all of the talks about STIs out there, it’s hard to believe that sex improves your immunity. However, people who engage in sex more frequently have higher levels of defenses against germs, bacteria, and viruses. This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t be smart about your sexual activity. It is still important to practice safe sex, but know that also seres as a way build a healthy immune system to protect us from invaders, or antigens, entering the body
6. Lowered Blood Pressure
Relieving stress and tapping into your brain pleasure centers are two main benefits of sex. These benefits also lead to lowered blood pressure. A study in science direct reveals that blood pressure reactivity to stress is better for people who recently had penetrative intercourse than for those who haven’t. The study reveals that masturbation can also help, but that penetration is more effective.
7. Improved Bladder Control in Women
Urination incontinence, or your body’s inability to control when you pee, is a problem that impacts roughly 30% of women at some point during their lifetime. The severity ranges from having an occasional leak when you cough or sneeze to having the urge to pee so suddenly and so badly that you’re unable to make it into the bathroom in time. When you’re having sex, your pelvic floor muscles are getting a workout. Strong pelvic floor muscles reduce your chances for incontinence. Even better – if/when you orgasm, it causes contractions in these muscles, further strengthening them.
8. Strengthened Bonds
Never underestimate the power of intimacy. Sex facilities pair bonding, which is a key factor in sustaining long-term romantic relationships. A study in Physiological Science reveals that the sexual afterglow keeps partners remaining pair-bonded between sexual acts. In data collected from two similar studies of newlywed couples, spouses reported their daily sexual activity and sexual satisfactions for 14 days and their overall satisfaction in their marriage 4 or 6 months later. Their sexual satisfaction remained elevated for around 48 hours after sex. Basically, regular intercourse keeps couples feeling closer. Other aspects of intimacy, such as long hugs and cuddles, also promote stronger bonds.
9. Reduce the Risk of Prostate Cancer
If you have a prostate (i.e. if you have a penis), regular ejaculation may help reduce your risk of prostate cancer." Research on the topic found that compared to men who ejaculated four to seven times per month across their lifetimes, men who ejaculated 21 or more times a month enjoyed about a 31% lower risk of prostate cancer.
10. It may count as a workout and reduce food cravings
One 2013 study published in the journal PLOS One found that during partnered sex, men burn 4.2 calories per minute and women burn 3.1 calories per minute. The rewarding brain chemical released during intercourse can sometimes also reduce your food cravings.
It's important to note that these health benefits are general observations based on research, and individual experiences may vary. Also, it's crucial to prioritize safe sexual practices and communicate openly with sexual partners to ensure a healthy and pleasurable experience. Keep that in mind, and have fun!
About the author
Holly Wood is a Licensed Marriage & Family Therapist (LMFT), an AASECT Certified Sex Therapist, and Certified Sexologist with the American Board of Sexology (ABS). This unique combination of credentials enables her to focus on clients’ sex lives as well as their overall mental health and trauma recovery.
Holly works with individuals and couples who have been looking forward to meeting their own sexual desires both individually and in relationships. She works from a trauma-informed, sex-positive, and holistic approach to help clients to get past their past and develop the necessary skills to achieve lifelong change and improve their quality of life.
When she is not counseling clients, she is holding seminars and workshops, conducting sex research or, or utilizing social media to disseminate accurate, up-to-date information to a wide range of audiences hoping to improve their sexual wellness. Holly's mission is to spread education, empowerment, and self-love. She is committed to helping people heal themselves and live a life full of pleasure and connection.
Visit www.thehollywoodsexologist.com to learn more and request a consultation.