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Sunday, February 10, 2013

Top Ten Health Benefits of Sex


Pleasurable sexual activity, either alone or with a partner, is good for you. Sex and especially orgasm triggers the release of hormones and endorphins that act as natural pain killers and feel-good chemicals. Thanks to this biochemical cascade and the physiological mechanisms involved, sex has several health benefits. Here are the highlights: 

#1  Heart Health

Sex improves heart health. Like other forms of aerobic exercise, it increases heart rate, pulse, and circulation, which gives the blood vessels that support your heart a good workout, regardless of how many calories you burn. Studies show that having sex can lower high blood pressure and when practiced at least twice a week, it can cut the risk of dying from a heart attack in half. Research has also demonstrated that sexual activity does not increase the risk of stroke.

#2  Improved Immunity

Regular sex can boost immunity and help prevent upper respiratory infections. Sexual activity increases levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A which defends against cold and flu viruses. Researchers found a 30 percent increase in IgA among people who had sex once or twice each week.

#3  Better Fat Metabolism

Sex balances hormones and normalizes neurotransmitters that reduce food cravings and regulate fat metabolism.

#4  Good Sleep

Good sex promotes good sleep, thanks to the hormone oxytocin.

#5  Anti-Aging Effects

Sex triggers the release of DHEA, estrogen, and testosterone. These hormones help maintain healthy skin texture, bone density, lean muscle mass, libido, and erectile function, especially in older adults. A study in Scotland found that people who had regular sex (4 times per week, on average) looked 7 to 12 years younger than their biological age.

#6  Less Pain Perception

Sex reduces the perception of pain. One study found that orgasm relieved migraine pain in half of women sufferers.

#7  Stress Relief

Sex helps relieve stress and people who have sex regularly report a better ability to cope with stress.

#8  Prostate Protection

Frequent sex can reduce the risk of prostate cancer in men. One study found that men who ejaculated 21 times or more each month when they were younger (in their 20s) had a significantly lower risk of developing prostate cancer when they were older, compared to men who reported only 4 to 7 ejaculations per month.

#9  Less Incontinence

Regular sex strengthens pelvic floor muscles and can reduce the risk of incontinence in women.

#10  Emotional Health

Sex can relieve anxiety and depression. It can also boost self esteem, promote intimacy, and facilitate bonding with your partner. A study from the National Bureau of Economic Research found that couples who had frequent sex were happier than couples who didn't. Researchers determined the happiness factor was equivalent to earning an extra $100,000 per year. 

References:


Bartz J.A., Zaki J., Bolger N., and Ochsner K.N. 2011. Social effects of oxytocin in humans: context and person matter. Trends in Cognitive Sciences 15(7):301-9.

Blanchflower D.G. and Oswald A.J. 2004. "Money, Sex and Happiness: An Empirical Study," Scandinavian Journal of Economics 106(3):393-415.

Charnetski C.J. and Brennan F.X. 1999. THe effect of sexual behavior on immune system function. Paper presented at the Eastern Psychological Association Convention, Providence, RI, April 1999.

Ebrahim S., May M., Ben S., McCarron P., Frankel S., Yarnell J., and Davey S.. 2002. Sexual intercourse and risk of ischaemic stroke and coronary heart disease: the Caerphilly study. Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health. 2002. 56(2): 99–102.

Evans R.W. and Couch R. 2001. Orgasm and migraine. Headache 41(5):512-4.

Leitzmann M.F., Platz E.A., Stampfer M.J., Willett W.C., and Giovannucci E. Ejaculation frequency and subsequent risk of prostate cancer. 2004. Journal of the American Medical Association 291(13):1578-86.

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