You know sex feels good and does wonders for your mood, but did you know that it benefits your health (his too!) in a number of not-so-obvious ways? The reason, according to scientists, is that during sex, our bodies produce a cascade of hormones (and other biological changes) that can ease pain, lower cancer risk, boost immunity, and even offset menopausal symptoms. Taking care of your health has never been so much fun.
1. It reduces chronic pain
Next time you have a headache, just say yes. Stimulation of your clitoris and vaginal walls triggers the release of endorphins, corticosteroids, and other natural pain killers. As a result, you'll feel less pain from headaches and sore muscles during sex.
The benefit, which begins before you orgasm, can linger for up to 2 days, says Barry Komisaruk, PhD, a Rutgers University psychology professor and coauthor of The Science of Orgasm.
In his research, he found that women could withstand painful pressure to their fingers while they were stimulated with sex toys; during orgasm, pain tolerance doubled.
And self-stimulation through the front wall of the vagina, where some find their G-spot, increases pain tolerance and pain detection thresholds by up to 50%, reports Komisaruk.
2. It lowers breast cancer risk
During arousal and orgasm, your levels of "happiness" hormones rise. Two of these—oxytocin and DHEA—may help keep breasts cancer free.
One study showed that women who have sex more than once a month have a lower risk of developing breast cancer than those who are less sexually active.
And Greek researchers found that men who had at least seven orgasms a month in their 50s had a significantly lower chance of developing male breast cancer.
3. It gives your heart a workout
Cardiologists rank intercourse as a mild-to-moderate-intensity exercise that enhances heart health as well as brisk walking does.
As with any workout, the more vigorous you are, the more your heart benefits.
The sex positions you try matter too; being on top is especially cardiac-friendly because it usually requires more effort. Orgasm delivers a bonus: At your peak moment, your heart rate may hit 110 beats per minute, comparable to what you might achieve when walking quickly or jogging. (Shake things up with these 11 new sex positions.)
4. It protects his prostate
Catholic priests have an elevated chance of dying of prostate cancer, and studies point to celibacy as a factor.
In 2003, research on middle-aged Australian men found that those who averaged at least four ejaculations a week had a one-third lower chance of developing prostate cancer than those who had fewer.
"When you drain the pipes, as it were, you have less clogging," says Irwin Goldstein, MD, head of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital.
Though the results of the study were clear, the reasons they occurred were not, says Goldstein, who calls for more research
5. It lowers stress
Got a big presentation coming up at work?
One study found that men and women who had engaged in intercourse in the 2 weeks before a stressful day had an easier time while doing public speaking and some verbal arithmetic.
During their presentations, their systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) increased less and then dropped back to its normal level at a faster rate than that of people who had no sexual relations or had other forms of sex, including non-coital interactions or masturbation.
One theory about why this occurs is that intercourse requires more complex brain activity; another idea is that it stimulates a number of important nerves not triggered during other sexual activity.
6. It revs up your immune system
Research from Wilkes University showed that college students who engaged in sex once or twice a week had 30% higher levels of infection-fighting antibodies than did their abstinent classmates.
In 2004, German scientists produced similar results: Blood tests showed that arousal and orgasm in men increased levels of certain pathogen-fighting white blood cells.
The effect is comparable to that of other stress-busting activities, such as exercise and listening to music, which also boost secretion of certain proteins that defend the body against infection.
7. It defeats menopausal dryness
Scientists in New Jersey found that postmenopausal women who had sexual relations more than 10 times a year had less evidence of vaginal atrophy than those who reported less frequent sex.
That's a sign of healthy tissues, says Sandra Leiblum, PhD, a New Jersey sex therapist who helped conduct the study.
Arousal brings blood to the vagina, which delivers nutrients and oxygen.
Keep using this part of your body, and you'll help prevent the tissue from becoming thinner and less elastic as you age, so intercourse can remain comfortable and pleasurable.
Source: Sex Tonight