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For healthy, consenting adults, sex can be mind-blowing. But getting busy with a partner can also have some legit benefits beyond our brainwaves. Read on for more reasons to get it on — as if we needed ‘em!

The good feelings swirling around the brain during sexy time are due to brain chemistry, specifically dopamine and opioid chemicals. But the goodness extends beyond our brains.

Studies have found that regular hanky-panky can do way more than make us feel warm and fuzzy. Here are the health benefits of sex:

1. It could increase longevity

Research shows that sex may help you live longer. A 2019 study of older adults found that getting down in the years after a heart attack decreased the risk of death by one-third.Kepler SB, et al. (2019). Frequency of sexual activity and long-term survival after acute myocardial infarction. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2019.06.019

2. It increases job satisfaction

If work’s got you down, consider coitus (okay, Sheldon). A 2017 study found that when married couples fooled around at home, the good vibes spilled over into work the next day. Folks were in a better mood and more engaged with their jobs.Leavitt K, et al. (2017). From the bedroom to the office: Workplace spillover effects of sexual activity at home. DOI: 10.1177/0149206317698022

3. It preserves marriages

For our married readers out there, it’s worth it to try and keep that sexy spark alive. A 2017 study found that “sexual afterglow” lasted 48 hours post-sex and contributed to pair-bonding — those lovey, dovey feelings you have toward your mate.Meltzer AL, et al. (2017). Quantifying the sexual afterglow: The lingering benefits of sex and their implications for pair-bonded relationships. DOI: 10.1177/0956797617691361

4. It helps ward off cold and flu

Researchers found that university students who engaged in sexual activity a few times a week had higher levels of immunoglobulin A — an antibody that helps fight infections and the common cold — in their saliva.Charnetski CJ, et al. (2004). Sexual frequency and salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA). DOI: 10.2466/pr0.94.3.839-844

Interestingly, the IgA levels were highest in couples who consistently had sex a few times a week, but lower in people who had no sex or lots of sex.

5. It improves self-esteem

Maybe there’s a reason for that extra pep in your step. In 2014, researchers collected data on college students every week for a year. They found that those having casual oral, vaginal, or anal sex fared better on well-being and self-esteem tests than those who did not have sex.Vragalova Z, et al. (2014). Who benefits from casual sex? The moderating role of sociosexuality. DOI: 10.1177/1948550614537308

6. It reduces stress

Doing the deed has positive mental health associations for everyone. In general, intercourse can make blood pressure less reactive to stress and reduce overall stress levels.Brody S. (2006). Blood pressure reactivity to stress is better for people who recently had penile-vaginal intercourse than for people who had other or no sexual activity. DOI: 10.1016/j.biopsycho.2005.03.005

7. It can be a workout

Anyone who’s ever watched an R-rated movie knows sex can be quite the workout. A 2013 study said an average bedroom rodeo burns 85 calories, or 3.6 calories a minute. This led researchers to conclude that, sometimes, sex can be considered significant exercise.Frappier J, et al. (2013). Energy expenditure during sexual activity in young healthy couples. DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0079342

8. It relieves headaches

Gettin’ frisky releases a bevy of feel-good chemicals, including serotonin, endorphins, and oxytocin. These generate feelings of euphoria, pleasure, and elation — and make people forget all about that nagging headache.

A 2013 study out of Germany showed that 60 percent of migraine sufferers felt better after knocking boots. For people plagued with cluster headaches, there’s good news too. The same study found that 37 percent of subjects felt better after sexual activity.Hambach A, et al. (2013). The impact of sexual activity on idiopathic headaches: an observational study. DOI: 10.1177/0333102413476374

9. It improves sleep

It’s a cliché that dudes pass out right after sex, but intercourse actually can help all people nod off. Feeling relaxed and comfortable are big factors in hitting the big O, so it makes sense that there’s a tendency to want to snooze right after.

In fact, a 2019 study found that that people who had orgasms before bed (either from sex with partners or masturbation) experienced “favorable sleep outcomes,” as in, hitting the hay faster and getting better quality sleep.Lastella M, et al. (2019). Sex and sleep: Perceptions of sex as a sleep promoting behavior in the general adult population. DOI: 10.3389/fpubh.2019.00033

10. It improves memory

In 2017, researchers tested a group of heterosexual women on their memory skills, using abstract words and faces. Those who had more sex performed better at tasks centered around the hippocampus, the part of the brain that deals with learning and emotions.Maunder L, et al. (2017). Frequency of penile-vaginal intercourse is associated with verbal recognition performance in adult women. DOI: 10.1007/s10508-016-0890-4

A 2016 study also showed that women between the ages of 50 and 90 were better at recall, or retrieving memories from the past, when they had more sex.Wright H, et al. (2016). Sex on the brain! Associations between sexual activity and cognitive function in older age. DOI: 10.1093/ageing/afv197

11. It may reduce symptoms of depression

We know what you’re thinking: A good roll in the hay lifts the spirits because of oxytocin, the cuddle hormone.Cochran D, et al. (2013). The role of oxytocin in psychiatric disorders: A review of biological and therapeutic research findings. DOI: 10.1097/HRP.0b013e3182a75b7d While that is true, we’re actually talking about the properties of semen.

Yes, semen. One study showed that contact with semen during hetero sex acted as an antidepressant for college-aged women. We won’t get into too much detail here, but it has to do with the vagina absorbing the contents of semen into the bloodstream.GG Gallup, et al. (2002). Does semen have antidepressant properties? https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/12049024

12. It regulates periods

Some athletic hetero lovemaking once or twice a week can, on a very basic level, make it less likely that Aunt Flow will show up unexpected.

In one study, scientists found that women exposed to male sweat were calmer and more relaxed than the control group.Preti G, et al. (2003). Male axillary extracts contain pheromones that affect pulsatile secretion of luteinizing hormone and mood in women recipients. DOI: 10.1095/biolreprod.102.008268

These women also experienced smaller changes of levels of luteinizing hormone (which controls the menstrual cycle) in the blood. Gettin’ jiggy with it also reduces stress, another contributing factor in keeping periods more regular.

13. It lowers the risk of preeclampsia

Pregnant ladies, time to get your groove on. Frequent sexual intercourse — and exposure to semen — can reduce the risk of developing a serious pregnancy complication called preeclampsia, which can cause swollen legs and arms, headaches, nausea, and seizures.Einarrson JI, et al. (2003). Sperm exposure and development of preeclampsia. DOI: 10.1067/mob.2003.401

A protein found in semen, called HLG-A, can regulate women’s immune systems and lower the possibility of experiencing these complications.

For this reason, a 2014 study suggested that future moms should ditch barrier methods (i.e. condoms, diaphragms, etc.) pronto and increase vaginal intercourse before conceiving. Think of it as immune system prep for having a bun in the oven.Saftlas AF, et al. (2014). Cumulative exposure to paternal seminal fluid prior to conception and subsequent risk of preeclampsia. DOI: 10.1016/j.jri.2013.07.006

14. It lowers blood pressure

High blood pressure puts pressure on the blood vessels, leading to damage and narrow, hardened arteries. Fortunately, a 2016 study found that women who get lucky have better cardiovascular health and a reduced risk of hypertension.Liu H, et al. (2016). Is sex good for your health? A national study on partnered sexuality and cardiovascular risk among older men and women. DOI: 10.1177/0022146516661597

15. It makes fertilization easier

We know, we know. Duh, right? But for a long time, it was thought that having too much sex could weaken the chances of conception.

In 2016, researchers confirmed that a short period of abstinence, followed by daily sex, maximized the number of sperm during ejaculation.Welliver C, et al. (2016). Analysis of semen parameters during 2 weeks of daily ejaculation: a first in humans study. DOI: 10.21037/tau.2016.08.20 So, for people trying to get pregnant, there’s no such thing as too much “trying” come ovulation time.

16. It decreases risk of cardiovascular disease

Good news, dudes! Older studies have shown that doing the deed reduces the risk of stroke and coronary heart disease in men.

According to a British study, men who had sex once a month or less were 45 percent more likely to contract a cardiovascular disease than friskier fellows.Ebrahim S, et al. (2002). Sexual intercourse and risk of ischaemic stroke and coronary heart disease: the Caerphilly study. DOI: 10.1136/jech.56.2.99

It turns out, shagging a few times per week is just what the doctor ordered. There are numerous health benefits for folks of all ages, genders, and orientations.

So, whether you’re trying to halt a headache in its tracks or get solid sleep tonight, the perks of bedroom fun are many. Think of sex as a prescription for good health — your mind and body will thank you for it.