Ten health benefits of sex

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By Hannah Nichols

“sexual health” into a search engine, and it is likely that you will
be bombarded with pages of articles covering anything and everything, from
sexual norms and advice on relationships, birth control, and pregnancy, to
information about STDs and how to avoid them. What is less often discussed,
however, is the abundant physical and psychological health benefits of sex. We
have put together a list of the top health benefits of sex, as backed up by
exploring just how sex affects the mind and body, the list of potential
benefits appears to be endless.
from reproduction, pleasure, and intimacy, sex seems to have a positive impact
on many life areas, including work, physical and cognitive performance,
marriage, and happiness into our senior years. Sex may also have a positive
effect on certain organs and conditions, as well as a preventive effect on some
example, a recent study published in the Journal of Management found that
maintaining a healthy sex life at home might boost job satisfaction and
engagement at work.
may also play a fundamental role in preserving a happy marriage, according to
research published in Psychological Science. Partners are suggested to
experience a sexual “afterglow” that lasts for up to 48 hours
following sexual intercourse. This afterglow is associated with higher levels
of long-term relationship satisfaction.
is also considered a significant form of exercise. Sex burns around 85
calories, or 3.6 calories per minute, according to a study published in PLOS
few examples are a drop in the ocean of the numerous health benefits of sexual
activity and masturbation that are presented in studies from around the globe.
Medical News Today provide the low-down on the top evidence-based health
benefits of sex.
Improves immunity

in sex one to two times per week appears to be the optimum frequency to boost
the immune system, according to research published in Psychological Reports.
can test how tough our immune systems are by measuring levels of an antibody
called immunoglobulin A (IgA) in saliva and mucosal linings.
authors Carl Charnetski, from Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, and his colleague
Frank Brennan found that people who had sex once or twice per week had a 30
percent increase in IgA. However, the same results were not seen in individuals
who had sex more or less frequently.
Lowell, an immunologist at the University of California-San Francisco, says
that people who are sexually active are exposed to more infectious agents than
individuals who are not sexually active. The immune system responds to these
infectious agents by producing more IgA, which may protect against colds and
those of you who have sex more or less frequently than the optimal amount, fear
not. According to another study by Charnetski, petting a dog can also
significantly raise IgA.

Good for the heart

activities that exercise the heart are good for your health, and this includes
sex. Being sexually aroused increases heart rate, with the number of beats per
minute peaking during orgasm.
in particular, have been shown to benefit from the effect of sex on the heart.
A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, involving men in their
50s, suggested that men who have sex at least twice per week have a 45 percent
reduced risk of heart disease, compared with men who have sex less frequently.
American Heart Association say that heart disease should not affect your sex
life. Heart attacks or chest pain caused by heart disease rarely happen during
sex and, for the most part, it is safe to have sex if your heart disease has
heart’s response to sex is comparable with mild to moderate effort encountered
in daily activities, according to research published in the European Heart
Journal. If you can take part in activities that have a similar impact on the
heart – such as walking up two flights of stairs – without chest pain, then you
can usually assume that it is safe to have sex.
research is currently needed to draw connections between specific cardiovascular
conditions and sex, particularly for women and older adults.
Lowers blood pressure

conducted by Michigan State University and published in the Journal of Health
and Social Behavior found that sex in later years might reduce the risk of high
blood pressure – at least for women.
in the study aged between 57 and 85 years who found sex pleasurable or
satisfying were less likely to have hypertension. However, male study
participants who had sex once per week or more were twice as likely to
experience heart problems than men who were sexually inactive.
another study published in Behavioral Medicine, researchers found that the act
of hugging can help a person to maintain a healthy blood pressure.
to the American Heart Association, high blood pressure increases the risk of
heart attack and stroke and can also affect your sex life. High blood pressure
has an impact on blood flow throughout the body and can prevent enough blood
flowing to the pelvis.
men, high blood pressure can lead to erectile dysfunction and in women, high
blood pressure can lower libido and reduce interest in sex. It is considered
safe to have sex if you have high blood pressure. However, if you are concerned
or are having problems in the bedroom, seek advice from your doctor.
Relieves pain

headache may often be used as a reason to avoid sex. However, before you reach
for the painkillers, neurologists have found that sexual activity can relieve
head pain associated with a migraine or cluster headache in some people.
research was conducted by the University of Munster in Germany and published in
Cephalalgia. In individuals with a migraine, 60 percent of people reported an
improvement in pain after sexual activity, while 37 percent of people with a
cluster headache reported an improvement.
University of Munster researchers explain that sex triggering the release of
endorphins is the mechanism behind the pain relief. Endorphins are the body’s
natural painkillers and are released through the central nervous system, which
can reduce or eliminate pain the experienced with a headache.
other research published in Pain, women were found to experience reduced pain
sensitivity and had an increased pain tolerance threshold when experiencing
pleasure through vaginal self-stimulation.

Reduces the risk of prostate cancer

who frequently ejaculate could be protected against prostate cancer, the most
common cancer among men in the United States.
led by Michael Leitzmann, from the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, MD,
and published in JAMA, discovered that men who ejaculated 21 times per month or
more were a third less likely to develop prostate cancer than men who
ejaculated between four and seven times per month.
and team have a number of theories as to why increased ejaculation may help to
prevent prostate cancer.
first theory is that frequent ejaculation may allow the prostate gland to clear
out carcinogens, and materials that may orchestrate the development of
carcinogens. Another theory suggests that regular drainage of prostate fluid
stops crystalloid microcalcifications – which are associated with prostate
cancer – from developing in the prostate duct.
who have more than 12 ejaculations per month may also benefit, although the
researchers note that at this point, the research would not warrant
recommending men to change their sexual behavior.
Improves sleep

you have trouble getting to sleep at night? Sexual activity could be just what
the doctor ordered.
sleep is a public health problem, according to the Centers for Disease Control
and Prevention (CDC). Around 50 to 70 million adults in the U.S. have a sleep
could be the answer to help you achieve the recommended 7 to 9 hours of sleep
per night.
sex and orgasm, a cocktail of chemicals are released in the brain, which
includes oxytocin, dopamine, and a rush of endorphins. Oxytocin, also known as
the “cuddle hormone,” facilitates closeness and bonding, and it
surges during sex and orgasm in both men and women.
orgasm, it is thought that the effect of oxytocin, combined with the release of
the hormone prolactin (which is linked to the feeling of satiety and
relaxation), makes you feel sleepy.
women, a rise in estrogen levels during sex has been shown to enhance their REM
cycle, according to a study published in the Journal of Women’s Health.
men, the prefrontal cortex – the area of the brain associated with alertness,
consciousness, and mental activity – “switches off” after orgasm.
According to a study published in Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews,
this process is connected with the release of oxytocin and serotonin, both of
which have sleep-inducing effects.
Relieves stress

can cause all kinds of health problems, from headaches, problems sleeping,
muscle tension, and upset stomach, to more severe conditions, including a
weakened immune system and chronic depression.
published in Psychosomatic Medicine demonstrated that physical or emotional
intimacy in couples is associated with reduced stress levels.
study published in Biological Psychology found that people who engaged in
penetrative sex experienced lower stress-related blood pressure when public
speaking than individuals who had masturbated or had non-coital sex.
Participants in the study who abstained from sex had the highest blood pressure
levels triggered by stress.
Brody, a psychologist at the University of Paisley in the United Kingdom,
hypothesized that the calming effect might be caused by the release of the
“pair-bonding” hormone, oxytocin.
Boosts brain power

published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior suggests that frequent sex may
improve women’s memory. Results from a computerized word-memory task found that
women who had penetrative sex had better memory recognition of abstract words.
researchers note that at this stage, it is unclear whether sex improves memory
or if better memory leads to more sex. However, they say that sex may improve
memory by stimulating the creation of new neurons in the hippocampus – the
region of the brain that is involved in learning and memory.
study, by the University of Amsterdam in the Netherlands and published in
Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin, found that thinking about love or
sex has different effects on our brains.
about love activates long-term perspective and global processing, which
promotes creative thinking and interferes with analytical thinking. However, in
contrast, thinking about sex triggers short-term perspective and local
processing, which then promotes analytical thinking and interferes with
Increases lifespan

you want to live longer? Sexual activity could hold the key to a longer life.
study published in The BMJ concluded that sexual activity might have a
protective effect on men’s health.
researchers tracked the mortality of almost 1,000 men aged between 45 and 59
over the course of 10 years. They found that risk of death was 50 percent lower
in men who frequently had orgasms than men who did not regularly ejaculate.
research also concluded with similar results. A 25-year study published in The
Gerontologist determined that in men, frequent intercourse was a significant
predictor of longevity, whereas in women, those who reported past enjoyment of
sex lived longer.
Boosts self-esteem

addition to all the physical benefits, having frequent satisfying sex may
improve emotional wellness.
published in Social Psychology and Personality Science found that among college
students, those who enjoyed casual sex reported higher well-being and
self-esteem levels, compared with students who did not have casual sex.
the other side of the coin, according to a study published in the Journal of
Adolescent Health, women with higher self-esteem reported having more
satisfying sex, including having more orgasms.
are just some of the many benefits that sex can have for your health. While sex
can be a pleasurable and exciting activity, it is important to remember that
practicing safe sex can reduce the risks of contracting STDs, as well as
helping to avoid unplanned pregnancies.

Kayode Ojo
Kayode Emmanuel Ojo is the Co-Founder and Managing Director at SHEFFA Limited. He is presently studying Computer Science at the National Open University, Victoria Island, Lagos.