The Health Benefits of Sex

Written by Pamela Rogers, MS, PhD | Published on July 21, 2014
Medically Reviewed by George Krucik, MD, MBA on July 21, 2014

The Health Benefits of Sex

People who are dissatisfied with their sex lives often report not being able to find time for sexual expression. Whatever the cause (fatigue, children, work, etc.), it is possible to find time to engage in sexual activity, whether it’s with a partner or alone.

Aside from reproduction, though, sex is ultimately about intimacy and pleasure. Sexual expression has many positive physical, intellectual, emotional, psychological, and social benefits. Here are some findings from the scientific literature about the health benefits of sex.

Physical Wellness

Physical Appearance

An active sex life may yield benefits such as a more youthful appearance. In addition, sexual activity burns calories and fat, and it has been suggested that people with active sex lives tend to exercise more frequently and have better dietary habits than those who are less sexually active. Likewise, physical fitness can improve sexual health.

Sleep

The intimacy hormone, oxytocin, is released during orgasm. Studies show that oxytocin promotes better sleep. And better sleep has been linked to stronger immunity and longer lifespan.

Disease Prevention and Management

Your chances of having heart problems decrease if you stay sexually active. This is due to higher levels of oxytocin, a neurotransmitter (brain chemical) that is produced during arousal and orgasm.

Research has shown that sexual activity and orgasms may bolster the immune system in women and men.

Men

In men, high frequency of ejaculation (more than 21 times per month) is related to a decrease in the risk of prostate cancer.

Although results are conflicting, some studies have shown that the quality of sperm motility decreases with abstinence. In healthy men these declines can take effect after only five days of abstinence.

Men who have frequent orgasms, whether through masturbation or sex, may experience a lower risk of developing prostate cancer.

Women

Sexual activity and orgasm during menstruation has a potentially protective effect against endometriosis.

Women who continue to be sexually active after they reach menopause, with a partner or through masturbation, are less likely to have significant vaginal atrophy and are more likely to report sufficient vaginal lubrication.

Emotional Well-Being and Relationship Improvement

Sexual experience and satisfaction are closely correlated with overall quality of life. They increase your sense of well-being and personal satisfaction. Sexual activity is negatively correlated with the risk and incidence of psychiatric illness, depression, and suicide. Sexual activity and orgasm reduce stress.

Sexual satisfaction is also associated with the stability of relationships. Consistent mutual sexual pleasure increases bonding within a relationship. It has also been demonstrated that coupled partners have increased relationship satisfaction when they fulfill one another's sexual desires. A study of young married women found that those who reported masturbating also reported greater marital satisfaction.

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