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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.