Sex is everywhere in the media but in some cases it’s still looked at with a bit of embarrassment. Not many of us realize how our sexuality adds to our life and enhances our life and our health. According to experts, sex promotes both our physical and psychological health.
Good sex in a healthy, stable, monogamous relationship can only better our physical, mental, emotional and spiritual well being. Here are just a few reasons (out of 237 reasons collected by University of Texas researchers and published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior) to hit the sheets tonight. Each one of these benefits is backed by scientific scrutiny.
- Stress relief – Sex increases levels of oxytocin and stimulates the feelings of warmth and relaxation. What better way to unwind from a tough day than sharing its most climactic moment with your special someone? According to Stuart Brody, professor of psychology at the University of the West of Scotland. Brody's team monitored 24 women and 22 men who were exposed to stressful situations, such as speaking in public and doing verbal arithmetic, and kept records of their sexual activity. Those who had intercourse had better responses to stress than those who engaged in other sexual behaviors or abstained. Yet other research found a link between partner hugs and lower blood pressure in women.
- Weight loss – Forget torturing yourself with the latest fad diet or hours on the elliptical machine when you can burn about 85 calories in 30 minutes of sex! Lovemaking lends itself to improved strength, flexibility, muscle tone, and cardiovascular conditioning. Plus, there’s something super sexy about getting to sleep with your very own “personal trainer.” “Sex is a great mode of exercise.” says Patti Britton, PhD, a Los Angeles sexologist and president of the American Association of Sexuality Educators and Therapists.
- Pain management – Forgo popping a pain killer and opt for something a bit more “au naturel.” Sex has been shown to offer migraine and menstrual cramp relief, as well as alleviate chronic back pain thanks to the endorphins and corticosteroids released during sexual arousal and orgasm.
- Immune booster – Having sex several times a week has been linked with raising levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A (IgA), which helps ward off colds, according to researchers at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa.
- Better heart health. A little bit of heart and soul in the sack should be part of every doctor’s orders when it comes to cardiovascular care. English researchers found fear of a stroke during sex is groundless. They followed 900 men for 20 years and found no connection. On the other hand, they found that the men who had sex at least twice a week reduced their risk of a heart attack by half compared to men who had it less than once a month. Sex may help lower cholesterol and the risk of a heart attack!
- Increased self-esteem and intimacy. When sex is consistent and involves mutual pleasure, it can increase bonding since the surge in oxytocin at orgasm stimulates feelings of affection, intimacy, and closeness. When spiritual in nature, sex can lead to an even better quality of life and stronger relationship. Is it any wonder that good sexual energy in a positive relationship can make you feel better about yourself, your partner, and life in general? "Oxytocin allows us to feel the urge to nurture and to bond," Britton says.
- Better sleep – Oxytocin is at the forefront again — it helps both men and women sleep, which in turn promotes healthy weight and blood pressure. There’s no need to count sheep when sex, including masturbation, helps insomnia. Plus, making love sure beats tossing and turning your way to zzzz’s.
- A better, younger looking you – Sex keeps you looking and feeling younger and, according to some research, may lead to shiny hair, a glowing complexion and bright eyes. This is because it increases the youth-promoting hormone DHEA (dehydroepiandrostone). And feeling more attractive charges your sex life even more. The snowball effect definitely applies here: the more you get, the more you want
- Mood lifter – Sex releases pleasure-inducing endorphins during arousal and climax that can relieve depression and anxiety, and increase vibrancy.
- Longevity – There is a significant relationship between frequency of orgasm and risk of death, especially with men. Men who orgasm two times a week have a 50 percent lower chance of mortality than those who climax one time per month.
- Decreased risk of breast cancer – One study of women who had never given birth found that an increased frequency of sexual intercourse was correlated with a decrease in the incidence of breast cancer.
- Reproductive health benefits – According to at least one study, sex appears to decrease a man’s risk of prostate cancer, and the prevention of endometriosis in women. It also promotes fertility in women by regulating menstrual patterns.
In a nutshell, the health benefits of sex in a good, solid relationship are practically endless. Yet, in planning our New Year’s resolutions, how many of us are declaring, “I think I’ll have more sex with my lover” in fulfilling any 2010 health and self-improvement goals?
While exercise on a regular basis is important to your health, sex can do so much more for you and your relationship. So before signing any dotted line for a new gym membership, consider how time allotted to an athletic club could be far more effective in your boudoir.