Sure, you know sex feels good, but did you also know that it enhances heart health by normalizing cholesterol and blood pressure levels and boosting circulation … supports weight maintenance by burning calories and regulating appetite … strengthens your immune system with the release of antibodies … and it acts as a natural analgesic and antidepressant?
Well, it does all that and more. Read on to learn about the wonder drug that is sex.
Looking at the big-picture benefits, research shows that sex can significantly lengthen life span. Researchers from Queens University in Belfast followed 1000 middle-aged men for 10 years. The results, published in the British Medical Journal, showed that men who had sex at least once per week lived twice as long as men who had only had sex once per month.
In another study, Duke University researchers followed 270 men and women aged 60-96 and found that men who had sex the most lived longer than men who had sex the least, and women with the most fulfilling sex lives lived 7-8 years longer than women with lukewarm feelings regarding sex.
The longevity benefits attributed to sex are most likely the confluence of its impact on many different aspects of health, such as its immune-boosting influence. When you have sex, your body is flooded with immunoglobulin A, an antibody known to strengthen the immune system. When you orgasm, the adrenal hormone DHEA is released. DHEA helps to manage the immune system, contributing to tissue repair, improved cognitive function, and bone growth.
While each person’s cardiovascular performance varies, researchers estimate that sex elevates heart rate from 70 beats per minute to 150 beats per minute, which helps to increase the amount of energy burned and to accelerate metabolism. You burn approximately 5 calories per minute while having sex, or 150-200 calories in half an hour’s time. Sex also triggers the production of phenetylamine, which acts as a natural appetite suppressant.
Studies show that people who frequently have sex are 50% less likely to experience a cardiovascular event, such as a heart attack or stroke. Not only does sex have an impact on heart rate, but it also helps improve blood vessel health, as demonstrated by a study published in Biological Psychology. Twenty-four men and women recorded their sexual activities for 2 weeks. Researchers then took participants’ blood pressure while they were told to give a speech off the cuff to a hostile crowd and do quick math calculations in their head. Those who had engaged in traditional sexual intercourse for the 2 weeks prior had better blood pressure results than did those who did not have sex or engaged in other sexual activities beyond the traditional.
Hormone Help for Pain Management
Research from professor and world-renowned sexologist Beverly Whipple reveals that when women masturbated to the point of orgasm, their pain tolerance and pain detection thresholds shot up from 74.6 to 106.7, which suggests that sex can help alleviate pain associated with conditions such as migraines, headaches, muscle tension, and menstrual cramps.
Sex acts as a natural pain reliever in part due to its influence on the release of hormones. When we’re aroused, levels of dopamine, which activates the brain’s centers of craving and reward, go up. Sex releases the hormone oxytocin, which encourages bonding and lowers fear and stress, and produces endorphins, which act as natural painkillers. Sex even elevates levels of testosterone, a hormone linked to robust muscles, superior energy, and sharper brain function.
Sex may even go above and beyond stress management and work its magic on depression. Not only does sex boost self-esteem, but a 2002 study made up of 293 college women showed that those who had unprotected sex were less likely to be depressed. Semen contains estrogen, testosterone, prolactin, and prostaglandins, and researchers believe that the vagina may absorb these hormones, as well as additional nutrients, through the vaginal walls and into the bloodstream, where they may help balance hormone levels and prevent depression. Of course, the risks of unprotected sex do not outweigh the benefits, and unprotected sex is only recommended between two consenting adults with awareness and acknowledgement of each other’s sexual history and reproductive plans.