1. Helps keep the immune system functioning properly"Sexually active people take fewer sick days," says sexual health expert Yvonne K. Fulbright, Ph.D.
Sexual people have higher levels of substances that protect your body from bacteria, viruses, and other invaders. College students who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of a certain antibody than those who had sex less frequently, researchers at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania found.
You should still be doing all the other things that keep your immune system happy, like:
- Eat and drink well.
- stay active.
- enough sleep.
- Keep up with your vaccinations.
- If you don't know your two STD status, use a condom.
2. Boost your libidoLonging for a more active sex life? "Having sex makes sex better and increases your libido," says Lauren Streicher, M.D. She is a clinical assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
For women, having sex increases vaginal lubrication, blood flow and elasticity, all of which make sex feel better and help you crave more, she says.
3. Improves bladder control in womenA strong pelvic floor is important to avoid urinary incontinence, which affects about 30 percent of women at some point in their lives.
Good sex is like exercising your pelvic floor muscles. When you orgasm, it causes these muscles to contract, which increases their strength.
4. Lower blood pressureJoseph J. Pinzone, MD, says studies have shown a link between sex and lower blood pressure. He is the CEO and Medical Director of Amai Wellness.
"There's been a lot of research," he said. "A landmark study found that intercourse (not masturbation) specifically lowered systolic blood pressure." That's the first number on your blood pressure test.
5. Count it as exercise"Sex is a really good form of exercise," says Pinzone. It won't replace the treadmill, but it's important.
Having sex burns about five calories a minute, four more than watching TV. It gives you two hits: It raises your heart rate and uses various muscles.
So get busy! You might even want to clean up your schedule to make time for it on a regular basis. "Just like exercise, persistence helps maximize benefits," says Pinzone.
6. Reduces risk of heart attackA good sex life is good for your heart. Besides being a great way to get your heart rate up, sex also helps keep your estrogen and testosterone levels in balance.
"When any one of these is low, you start to have a lot of problems, like osteoporosis and even heart disease," Pinzone said.
Having sex more often may help. In one study, men who had sex at least twice a week were half as likely to die from heart disease as men who rarely had sex.
7. Reduce PainBefore you reach for your aspirin, try to have an orgasm.
"Orgasm blocks pain," says Dr. Barry R. Komisaruk, Distinguished Service Professor at Rutgers University, The State University of New Jersey. It releases a hormone that helps raise your pain threshold.
Stimulation without orgasm can also do the trick. "We found that vaginal stimulation can stop chronic back and leg pain, and many women have told us that genital self-stimulation reduces menstrual cramps, arthritis pain, and in some cases even reduces headaches," says Komisaruk.
8. May Reduce Prostate Cancer LikelihoodPursuing a passion may help prevent prostate cancer.
In a study published in JAMA, men who ejaculated frequently (at least 21 times per month) were less likely to develop prostate cancer.
You don't need a partner to reap this benefit: intercourse, nocturnal emission, and masturbation are all part of the equation.
It's not clear that sex was the only reason that mattered in the study. Many factors affect cancer risk. But more sex wouldn't hurt.
9. Improve sleepYou might doze off faster after sex, and for good reason.
"After orgasm, the hormone prolactin is released, which is responsible for the feeling of relaxation and sleepiness after sex," says Sheenie Ambardar, MD. She's a psychiatrist in West Hollywood, California.
10. Relieve stressBeing close to your partner can relieve stress and anxiety.
Ambardar says touching and hugging releases your body's natural "feel-good hormones." Sexual arousal releases a brain chemical that revs up the brain's pleasure and reward systems.
Sex and intimacy can also boost your self-esteem and well-being, Ambardar says. It is not only a recipe for a healthy life, but a recipe for a happy life.