Let’s talk about sex, or rather, who’s having the most. When we look worldwide, that particular honour goes to the Greeks – where a reported 87% of married couples have sex at least once a week. According to the recent poll by Durex, the couples of Greece are closely followed by the Brazilians (82%), the Russians (80%), the Chinese (78%) and the Poles (76%), while the land of the free, the USA, limps in at a lowly 19th place, with only 53% of couples having sex weekly.
But why does it matter? Well, I can assure you, I’m not just being nosey. The fact is, sex is important, not only in building and maintaining a close and loving relationship, but in maintaining a healthy lifestyle as well. Sex has a huge part to play when it comes to our overall health, and the effects of a good sex life extend well outside the bedroom.
In fact, many studies have found that those who have more sex have a better sense of overall health and wellbeing than those who don’t – and while some of that is down to the boost we get from that level of closeness and intimacy with our partners, the scientific health benefits of regular sex run much deeper than that.
So on that note, let’s now take a look at seven ways that sex makes us healthier.
1. It’s great exercise
Anything that gets the heart racing can only be a good thing. Yes, like any form of physical exercise, sex is great for the waistline, and gives the body a pretty decent workout – releasing and contracting up to six-hundred muscles at a time, and bumping up your heart rate to the same level as a thirty-minute jog.
And the really good news? Just like going to the gym, consistency is key, so the more you do it, the more you’ll benefit.
2. Sex is a stress-buster
Not only does sex improve your mood and lower stress levels in the short term, but those who have sex more frequently are often better equipped to handle the stresses of everyday life. Why? Sex releases endorphins which light a fire under the brain’s pleasure and reward systems, leading to a much sunnier disposition.
One particular study in the UK compared regular sex with regular meditation when it comes to improving our ability to handle stress. The study placed participants in several stressful situations – from public speaking, to on the spot mental arithmetic – and found that those who had the most sex showed smaller increases in blood pressure and were able to handle the situation in a calmer manner than those who did not.
3. It’s a painkiller
Now this one may raise a few eyebrows. We’ve all heard the “I’ve got a headache” line after all. But in actual fact, if you do have a headache, sex could well be the best thing for it. Sex causes a rush of oxytocin throughout the body, which in turn releases endorphins – which occupy the morphine receptors in the brain – and we all know what morphine does.
Put simply, sex is scientifically proven to have both a pain-relieving and pain-killing effect, so not only will it make those aches and pains go away, but in the long term it could even increase your pain threshold altogether.
4. It keeps the doctor away
Couples who have regular sex (at least once or twice a week) have been proven to have a higher level of the antibody immunoglobulin A (IgA) – up to 30% higher. IgA helps to fight off bacteria and viruses at the body’s entry points – keeping colds and flu at bay.
Even more surprising is that if you have already contracted that cold a healthy love-life can help you out here too. That’s because sex causes the sympathetic nervous system to contract the blood vessels in the nose, effectively decongesting the sinuses.
5. A healthy sex life = a healthy heart
Aside from just being a great way to get your heart pumping as I mentioned earlier, sex is also proven to help prevent cardiovascular disease – with a recent study showing men who have sex at least twice a week to be half as likely to die of heart disease than those who have sex less than once a month. Regular sex also helps to keep your oestrogen and testosterone levels in check, which is more good news for the heart – as low levels of either is a common predictor of heart disease.
6. It can help stave off cancer
As if you needed another reason to get your partner in the bedroom, here comes a great one: men who have frequent sex are at a lower risk of prostate cancer. And when I say frequent, I’m not talking once a week.
The American Medical Association recently published a study which highlighted much lower rates of prostate cancer – the fourth most prevalent form of the disease in the UAE – in men who had sex more than twenty times per month. While of course sex is not the only factor at play here, it’s fair to say that boosting the amount of time you spend in the bedroom is definitely not going to hurt.
7. Sex makes you look younger
Aside from the immediate post-intimacy glow that your skin experiences – caused by the increase in blood circulation and oxygenation – there are many long-lasting benefits to the skin that arise as a result of having sex.
When we have sex, the brain releases a cocktail of chemicals throughout our bodies, including the hormone dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA). DHEA helps to heal damage to the skin (caused by, for example, the sun) as well as prevent cortisol build-up which can thin the skin’s membrane.
Several studies from the UK have also shown that those who have sex at least three times a week look dramatically younger than their sex-starved counterparts – in some cases by up to twelve years!
8. Healthy body, healthy marriage
Of course there is one benefit that is perhaps even more important than all of those listed above – and that is the closer bond enjoyed by couples who have a more frequent level of intimacy. As life gets in the way, however, this can be more difficult for many of us to – for lack of a better way of saying it – “schedule in.”
But do consider that we are creatures of cohabitation and this is a big part of the bond we are supposed to share with our partner. So stop checking your Facebook news feed and go to bed at 8pm – not because you are tired, but because you have some important business to take care of.
About Dr. Simpson
Graham Simpson, MD is Chief Medical Officer, American Male Wellness and Eternity Medicine.
Dr. Graham Simpson MD graduated from the University of Witwatersrand Medical School in Johannesburg, South Africa. He is American Board Certified in Internal Medicine and Emergency Medicine. He is a founding member of the American Holistic Medical Association (AHMA) and is also a licensed homeopath. He is the author
of WellMan (Live Longer by Controlling Inflammation), the Metabolic Miracle and co-author of Spa Medicine with Dr. Stephen Sinatra. His latest books include 4 Week Diabesity Cure and Healthy and Happy – A Guide To Immortality. Dr. Simpson taught as an assistant professor of medicine at the University of Nevada, Reno. He is also certified in Age Management Medicine by Cenegenics and A4M and is the founder of Eternity Medicine.