According to a study by the General Social Survey, 23% of people have sex at least two to three times a month.
A lucky 18% of people have sex two to three times a week, six percent have sex even more than that, and only 19% have sex once a month.
What does this survey tell us?
That having sex a lot (or a little) is something that everyone’s doing. Most of those people are probably participating for one obvious reason—because it feels good. But what they may not know is that there are several health benefits of sex, too.
Perhaps knowing the details might give them—and you—an excuse to up those percentages a number or two.
As if you need more reasons to make love, keep reading for some of the awesome health benefits you and your next partner can feel good about.
Sex Before Bed Equals a Better Night’s Sleep
Both sex and sleep are important components of wellness—and there’s a bidirectional link between the two.
Their relationship with each other works both ways. For example, better sleep can lead to an improved sex life, and a healthy sex life can make you sleep better.
Sex and sleep are similar in other ways as well.
They each are influenced by and affect our physical and mental health. They’re also both presented in stages. For sleep, that looks like two stages of NREM, one stage of deep sleep, and one stage of REM sleep. For sex, that looks like desire, arousal, orgasm, and resolution.
Now that you know more about their relationship, let’s answer the question of the hour: how does sex improve sleep?
For one, sleep deprivation directly contributes to a lack of libido in women and a higher risk of erectile dysfunction in men. Poor sleep also heightens stress—making conflict more likely—and reduces intimacy, all of which take away from a satisfying sex life.
On the other hand, your body releases hormones like oxytocin and prolactin after sexual activity, both of which contribute to better sleep. If you’ve ever fallen into an immediate post-coital nap, now you know why. In addition to releasing these feel-good hormones, sex also reduces the stress hormone called cortisol.
While masturbation achieves similar goals, sex with a partner enhances this hormonal response, facilitating feelings of intimacy that contribute to sleep.
So, the next time you and a partner are staring at the ceiling waiting for sleep to take over, you might want to suggest a little roll in the hay first.
Sex Is a Form of Exercise
Consider it an active rest day (wink, wink) from the gym.
In all seriousness, sex and exercise are linked in their own ways.
Not only does exercise contribute to more than hardened muscles, but sex is like its own mini-workout, making it the ultimate win-win for both parties. People who exercise often also report having more active sex lives because of anything from improved stamina to better self-confidence. Both sex and exercise release endorphins, which are conducive to a happier mood.
While we’re not suggesting that a romp in the sheets should replace a day at the gym, sex can indeed be a fantastic supplement. That’s especially true if you do things like have sex standing up, have a longer sex session than usual, or try a new position that includes a strength component such as bridge or downward dog.
Feeling Blue? Sex Helps With That, Too
Based on what we’ve reported so far, it makes sense that the advantages go way beyond the physical.
Sex benefits your mental health in several ways, including:
- It eases stress
- It enhances intimacy with your partner or partners
- It boosts confidence
- It makes you feel—and in some cases, look—younger
- It increases cognitive capacity
Let’s flesh these ideas out.
We already touched on how sex can reduce the stress hormone called cortisol while simultaneously releasing feel-good endorphins. Endorphins are our body’s all-natural pain and stress fighters. In addition to these chemicals, sex also triggers the release of dopamine, oxytocin, and prolactin.
Dopamine is our reward-motivated chemical and its release improves focus and motivation. Oxytocin is also called the “cuddle hormone” and can generate feelings of compassion. Prolactin, released after orgasm, prompts feelings of relaxation (giving you that great sleep we discussed earlier).
Of course, the release of all these chemicals enhances intimacy with your partner(s), leading to a positive feedback cycle. The more intimate you are with your partner, the more emotionally connected you’ll feel to them, and vise versa.
As for self-esteem, regular sex makes both men and women look 5-7 years younger, which makes them feel younger, too. Additionally, love and connection are one of the five fundamental human needs. Meeting or fulfilling those needs contributes to feelings of self-worth.
As for making you smarter, there’s an argument for that, too.
Even thinking about a past sexual experience can boost analytic thinking skills. Evidence shows that women who have more frequent sex recall words better—perhaps because sexual climax activates every part of the brain. Better blood flow to the brain means a surge of nutrients and oxygen to the brain cells.
In other words, put down the Sudoku and pick up your partner.
Your Immune System Benefits From a Boost
Did you know that people who have more frequent sex call out sick from work fewer times than those who don’t?
That’s because sex boosts the immune system in numerous ways.
One of these ways is by boosting the levels of immunoglobulin, commonly called antibodies, in our bodies. The higher the level of these molecules, the stronger our immune response is, allowing us to fight off viruses, diseases, and more.
Scientific evidence proves that individuals who have sex one to two times per week experience a 30% increase in their antibody concentration. This improvement directly relates to strengthened immune defenses.
Sex also boosts the number of white blood cells we have. More white blood cells means more infection- and disease-fighting agents in the body. They attack invaders that attack the body, working like an army to snuff out the enemy. Sexual arousal and orgasm were proven to increase the concentration of leukocytes, aka white blood cells.
And, sex helps our immune system in ways we’ve already covered here—by reducing stress levels, improving our sleep, and burning calories.
Better Heart Health Is Another Reason to Hit the Sheets
Anxiety and depression increase the risk of getting heart disease. Lack of a partner—especially for men—leads to even greater odds of feeling depressed or anxious.
Since sex releases endorphins that fight anxiety and depression, it could be said that having sex contributes to better heart health.
For people who already have heart disease, there’s some good news for you, too. Your risk of having a heart attack during sex is the same for those without heart disease: less than one percent. So, doctor’s orders: hit the sack.
(Of course, always consult with your doctor if you have questions or concerns.)
In fact, the more sex one has after a cardiac event, the less likely that sex can trigger another event.
Additionally, the cardio boost you get during sex is good for it, too, much like walking or jogging.
Got a Headache? Have an Orgasm
While having sex doesn’t always relieve a headache, evidence suggests that it’s a natural pain reliever that works in your favor sometimes.
Those with cluster headaches and migraine episodes are the most likely to find some post-orgasm relief.
Experts believe that’s due in part to the endorphins released during orgasm since that’s when 96% of people report feeling better. That’s opposed to just participating in foreplay, or not finishing. Endorphins help us manage discomfort and can minimize pain.
The Health Benefits of Sex Are Undeniable
In the name of honoring your health, we recommend a good, long session in the sheets. From improved heart and immune health to a good night’s sleep, better self-esteem, and natural pain relief, there’s no reason not to.
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