If you think you have been enjoying sex up until now, you’ll get an extra boost once you understand how the act of making love can benefit your overall health. Most individuals take part in the carnal act for two reasons. The first, and perhaps the stand-out reason, is that it gives you pleasure, and the second is that it is the traditional means of procreation. If you thought there was no other reason to make the most of your relationship with a healthy sex life, you will be pleased to know that there are quite a few scientific health benefits of sex.
If you have the experience you likely claim to have in the bedroom, you have undoubtedly noticed some of these bonuses you get from engaging in the act without even giving it much thought. Your insight is not completely unfounded; however, as studies have been conducted that offer supportive evidence of the health benefits of lovemaking. Just in case you need any more convincing of the reasons you should be engaging in sex frequently, consider the many positive effects a healthy sex life can have on your mental, physical, and emotional health.
Emotional Health Benefits of Sex
One may think of mental and emotional health as the same category, but there are a few key differences in terms of the positive impact sex can have on your wellbeing. Consider emotional health to apply specifically to your means of processing and managing your emotions related to your sexual experience. Mental health, on the other hand, is related more to the way in which your mind understands and processes the experiences you encounter and the information you glean from them. Some of the emotional benefits of an active sex life are as follows.
- Less depression. If you want to feel happier overall, having more sex is a good place to start. One of the effects of being sexually active is the release of hormones that improve your sense of wellbeing, such as endorphins, serotonin, and dopamine. If you’re feeling a little down-and-out, a roll in the hay may be the answer to a brighter day.
- Improved self-esteem. It shouldn’t be any secret that you feel a little empowered after a healthy romp. After getting your groove on, there is nothing wrong with feeling yourself a little. Studies show that sex has a positive impact on self-esteem, especially when orgasm is achieved. It is also important to realize that “sex” doesn’t always refer to the heteronormative standard of penile-vaginal penetration, and there is no set standard or universal “norm” of just what sex is. The reason this is important here is that self-esteem boost is a benefit that has also been noted as a result of masturbation. So, even if you’re playing alone, you are sure to get a little boost that will make you feel better about yourself.
- Improved connection. Another of the many benefits of romance is the increased production of oxytocin during the act of sex. This powerful hormone is known for producing feelings of connection, bonding, and love, therefore increasing the level of interpersonal connection you have with your partner. As you feel a stronger sense of intimacy, trust, and love with your partner, you may also see the additional benefit of less stress over the stability of the social and emotional connection the two of you share. This is a benefit you can attain, even if you do not achieve orgasm, as the hormone is prevalent in arousal. You get an even bigger boost upon orgasm, but it is not necessary for enjoying this emotional health benefit.
Mental Health Benefits of Having Sex
When you consider the ways that your mind processes your sexual experiences and the way that affects your mental wellbeing, there are several benefits you can see as a result of your encounters. You may wonder, “how does stress affect a woman sexually?” but, more importantly, you should consider the ways that sex can affect your level of stress. Look at the positive influence an active sex life can have on your mental health.
- Increased brainpower and memory. One of the first signs of aging that many individuals notice is difficulty in remembering things, often in the short-term. This is a result of the brain losing its plasticity. A recent study published by Springer Link showed that individuals, especially older adults, who engaged in frequent sexual activity fared better in an assessment of their short-term memory performance than those who didn’t have as much sex. In adults between the ages of 58 and 94, the individuals who were still active sexually showed improved brainpower over those who were not. There is science-backed evidence that cell growth occurs in the hippocampus of sexually active individuals, which controls spatial, short-term, and long-term memory.
- Better sleep. If you have ever noticed that you get a really good night’s sleep after engaging in sex, there is a reason for that. Sexual activity encourages the production and release of progesterone, dopamine, prolactin, and oxytocin, all of which create a sense of relief and help you to relax. All of these hormones are released during sex but are present in higher levels if orgasm is achieved. In addition to the effects of the hormones, higher levels of physical exertion during sex help to exhaust the body and promote a deeper, more restful sleep.
- Less stress. As mentioned earlier, an active sex life can have a positive impact on your stress levels. Physical exercise, in and of itself, helps to reduce stress-related hormones and increase levels of the endorphins that make you feel happy. An additional benefit of engaging in sexual activity coupled with physical satisfaction and emotional support is the coping resources it provides. This experience is beneficial to individuals because it helps to diminish the negative effects of stress on mental and physical health. More sex can even improve the health of your heart!
Physical Benefits of Sex
Some of the benefits of sex that most people notice are physical in nature. The positive influences of sex on physical health are often the ones that individuals can actually see, and they often encourage maintenance of an active sexual lifestyle. When you experience these benefits, you may actually begin to wonder if there are health risks of not being sexually active. The following are a few of the physical improvements you may see when you are having sex regularly.
- Arthritis and bone strength. When women engage in sexual activity, estrogen is released. This boost can influence the occurrence of osteoporosis and arthritis as women age.
- Fewer headaches and less physical pain. Survey results published in Sage Journals indicate that individuals can achieve relief from migraines and cluster headaches to varying degrees in some patients. Besides relieving headache pain, additional research shows that women who suffer from arthritis, whiplash, labor, and postoperative pain were able to achieve some relief after experiencing orgasm.
- Hair and skin health. As we discussed earlier, estrogen is released during sexual activity, and this benefits the body in various ways. One of the ways that women notice the release of this hormone is through improved hair and skin health. The effects of aging become less noticeable when this hormone is present, as the skin’s thickness is improved by increased collagen. Progesterone and testosterone are also released during sex, and each of these hormones has a positive effect on hair growth. The simple act of engaging in sex also contributes to improved hair and skin health, as increased oxygen and blood flow encourage a brighter complexion and healthier hair by nourishing the skin cells and hair follicles.
- Improved immunity. Your antibodies are your body’s way of fighting off disease, and increased sexual activity can increase your level of antibodies. Studies of college students have shown that those who engaged in sexual activity at least once or twice per week had a higher level of disease-fighting antibodies than those who had sex less frequently.
- Improved muscle tone. Quite simply put, sex is exercise – and it is a fun way to get exercise. When you engage in sex, the health benefits of kissing straight through to the orgasm can be seen physically. Sexual activity involves physical exertion, increased heart rate, and stretching, all of which contribute to improved physical health. Of course, the level of physical activity affects the results, so the more strenuous your sexual activity is, the more obvious results you will see. Since sexual activity is typically less frequent and lasts for a shorter time than workouts at the gym, it is not recommended as a substitute, but it can certainly be a beneficial supplement to your regular workout regimen.
- Improved heart health. As mentioned earlier, a healthy sex life can have a healthy effect on your heart. Since sex is considered to be exercise, it only makes sense that it will have a positive effect on heart health. Both men and women who engage in regular sexual activity have seen fewer cardiac events than those who are not as sexually active. One study that focused on the long-term effects heart attack victims experienced from engaging in regular sexual activity showed that sexually active men tended to live longer. It is believed that the frequency of the sexual encounters, more so than the quality of the experiences, is the beneficial factor in improved heart health.
Take Advantage of the Health Benefits of Sex
When you look at all of the ways a healthy sex life can benefit your overall health, you can’t ignore the positive impact it can have on your life. Whether it is the physical activity itself, or the increase in beneficial hormones that are released when you engage in sex, there are many ways that you can reap the science-backed benefits of an active sex life. So, although you don’t likely need any encouragement, get out there and enjoy yourself! Just remember to always practice safe sexual activity as you don’t want to do anything that is counterproductive to enjoying the health benefits of sex.
Chief Operating Officer, The Compounding Pharmacy of America
Matthew Poteet, Pharm.D. graduated with Honors from Lee University with a Bachelors of Science in Biological Science. After his undergraduate training, he completed the Doctor of Pharmacy program at Mercer University Southern School of Pharmacy, graduating in 2004. Dr. Poteet has spent much of his pharmacy career on staff at two of the most prestigious academic teaching hospitals in the Southeast; Emory University in Atlanta and Vanderbilt University Medical Center in Nashville. At these institutions he received extensive experience and training in sterile products compounding.
He returned home to East Tennessee in 2010, where he has held the position of Pharmacy Director at two sterile products pharmacies in Knoxville. Matthew lives in Knoxville with his wife, Chris. Dr. Poteet is Tennessee’s first Board Certified Anti-Aging Pharmacist by the American Academy of Anti-Aging Medicine.