Health Benefits of Sex

Sex Is An Important Factor In Your Life

Sex and sexuality are a part of life. In addition to reproduction, sex can be about intimacy and pleasure. Sexual activity, penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI), or masturbation, can provide many surprising benefits for all aspects of your life:

  • physical
  • intellectual
  • emotional
  • psychological
  • social

Sexual health is more than just avoiding diseases and unplanned pregnancies. According to the American Sexual Health Association, it's also about recognizing that sex can be an important part of your life.

How Can Sex Benefit Your Body?

Sex may be good cardiovascular exercise in young men and women. Although sex in itself is not enough exercise, it can be considered a light exercise. Some of the benefits you can get from sex include:

  • lowering blood pressure
  • burning calories
  • increasing heart health
  • strengthening muscles
  • reducing your risk of heart disease, stroke, and hypertension
  • increasing libido

People with active sex lives exercise more often and have better dietary habits than people who are less sexually active. Physical fitness can also improve overall sexual performance.

Stronger Immune System

In a study of immunity in people in romantic relationships, those who had frequent sex (one to two times a week) had more immunoglobulin A (IgA) in their saliva. Those who had less sex (less than once a week) had significantly lower IgA.

IgA is an antibody that plays a role in preventing diseases and is the first line of defense against human papillomavirus, or HPV.

But those who had sex more than three times a week had the same amount of IgA as those who had sex less often. Studies show that anxiety and stress can possibly cancel out the positive effects of sex.

Better Sleep

Your body releases oxytocin, also called the “love” or “intimacy” hormone, and endorphins during an orgasm. The combination of these hormones can act as sedation.

Better sleep can contribute to:

  • a stronger immune system
  • a longer lifespan
  • feeling more well-rested
  • having more energy during the day

Headache Relief

Another study shows that sexual activity can provide full or partial relief from migraines and cluster headaches.

People who were sexually active during their attacks:

  • 60 percent reported an improvement during a migraine
  • 70 percent reported moderate to complete relief during a migraine
  • 37 percent reported improvement of symptoms in cluster headaches
  • 91 percent reported moderate to complete relief in cluster headaches

How Sex Benefits All Genders

In Men

A recent review found that men who had more frequent penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI) had a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.

One study found that men who had an average of 4.6 to 7 ejaculations a week were 36 percent less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer before the age of 70. This is in comparison to men who reported ejaculation on average 2.3 or fewer times a week.

For men, sex can also affect your mortality rate. One study that had a 10-year follow-up reported that men who had frequent orgasms (defined as two or more a week) had a 50 percent lower risk of mortality than those who had less frequent sex.

Although results are conflicting, the quality and health of sperm may increase with increased sexual activity, as some research suggests.

In women

Having an orgasm increases blood flow and releases natural pain-relieving chemicals.

Sexual activity in women can:

  • improve bladder control
  • reduce incontinence
  • relieve menstrual and premenstrual cramps
  • improve fertility
  • build stronger pelvic muscles
  • help produce more vaginal lubrication
  • potentially protect you against endometriosis, or the growing of tissue outside your uterus

The act of sex can help strengthen your pelvic floor. A strong pelvic floor can also provide benefits such as less pain during sex and less chance of vaginal prolapse. One study suggests that PVI may result in reflexive vaginal contractions due to penile thrusting.

Women who remain sexually active after menopause are less likely to have significant vaginal atrophy, or thinning of the vaginal walls. Vaginal atrophy can cause pain during sex and urinary symptoms.

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