It ain’t exactly news that sex is awesome. Aside from the fact that it, you know, feels good, sex also plays a critical role in developing intimacy with our partners. But it turns out that an active sex life is also really good for your overall health—and we’re not just talking about sexual wellness. Here’s why getting lucky is amazing for your whole body.
1. Sex is good for your heart health.
Get that blood flowing, and a lot of good things happen. “Men who make love at least two times a week are 45 percent less likely to have heart disease than men who have sex only once a month or less, according to a study by the New England Research Institute,” says urologist Jamin Brahmbhatt, M.D.
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Women reap the heart-healthy benefits of sex too. A 2016 study found that women who said they had frequent, extremely satisfying sex had a lower risk of hypertension, a common precursor to heart disease. “Regular sexual activity increases blood flow, resulting in lower blood pressure and decreased stress levels,” says sex expert Antonia Hall, M.A.
2. Getting it on straight-up makes you happier…
Of course we feel contentment when we achieve closer intimacy with our partners, but sex might be more of a therapy session than you think. “A study of 30,000 American men and women performed between 1989 and 2012 found that having sex at least once a week in a committed relationship was enough to make people happy,” Brahmbhatt says.
“And studies show that men and women who have intercourse with their partners have greater satisfaction with their mental health.” (Unfortunately, there’s no evidence to suggest that those particular benefits also applied to masturbation—but we’ve already covered the benefits and downsides to that.)
3. … and can benefit your mental health and memory.
Beyond feelings of happiness, healthy sexual activity has a ton of positive impact on our overall mental health. “Sexual activity may help guard against mental health issues, like anxiety,” says Talkspace therapist Rachel O’Neill, Ph.D., LPCC-S.
And if you want to ensure that you’re unforgettable in the bedroom, the secret might just be… having sex. “Frequency of sexual intercourse was associated with improved memory and condition skills,” O’Neill says. And Hall notes that there’s evidence to suggest that sex leads to new neuron growth in the brain.
4. It can even decrease cancer risk.
Sure it sounds like an excuse someone might give to get some nookie, but it’s actually true. “Men can decrease the likelihood of getting prostate cancer when they ejaculate more frequently, and women experience an increase in estrogen, which reduces the risk of breast cancer,” Hall says.
5. And improves pelvic fitness.
Get those kegels going! “Sex strengthens the pelvic wall for better bladder control,” Hall says. “And when the pelvic floor is stronger, a woman has fewer cramps and has an easier time giving birth.” Yes, please.
6. You might find it offers you pain relief.
Migraine sufferers, rejoice—sex actually can help relieve headaches, as well as other forms of pain. “A 2013 survey of 1,000 headache sufferers found that 30 percent of those with cluster headaches and 60 percent of those with migraines reported partial or total pain relief if they had sex during an episode,” Brahmbhatt says.
7. And sex will almost definitely help you sleep better.
You might have noticed that if you have sex before bed, you simply sleep a lot better—and better sleep helps you have better sex too. Yeah, it’s kind of a win/win.
Aly Walansky is a New York-based lifestyles writer. Follow her on Instagram and Twitter @alywalansky.