Health Benefits of S*e*x
In addition to perpetuating the species, sex has quite a few health benefits.
- Sex protects our health. For both men and women, studies show that sexual activity has a protective effect on our health. In men, studies have shown a 50% decrease in the risk of cardiovascular mortality in men having frequent sex, as compared to the men in the study having the least frequency of sex. Studies also confirm similar findings in women, especially regarding orgasms.
- Erectile function is a good indicator of overall cardiovascular health in men. The same things that damage the blood vessels of the heart can damage the penile blood vessels. In a report from 2005, a panel of experts made a recommendation that all men 25 years old or older should be asked about erectile dysfunction, regardless of whether they mention it to their doctors, because it is an early marker for cardiovascular disease.
- Sex reduces stress. Research started by Kinsey in the 1940’s shows that people with fulfilling sex lives experience less anxiety and tend to be less violent or hostile. Sex causes the release of oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine, all of which are hormones that increase positive feelings of attachment, affection and closeness.
- Oxytocin is good for us. Sexual activity, and especially orgasm (and also breast-feeding) cause the release of the hormone oxytocin, which gives a wide range of health benefits, including:
- Better mood
- Lower cortisol
- Lower blood pressure
- Glowing skin
- May even protect against several hormone-mediated cancers.
Because of oxytocin, healthy sexual encounters cause dilation of blood vessels all over the body, which in turn improves blood flow to many body organs including the brain.
If your libido is low and it’s an issue in your life, get it checked out. There is a lot that can be done, and it could save your life.
If your sex drive is good, then for Valentine’s Day don’t battle the crowds at the restaurants. Just stay in bed with your honey and improve your health.
Dr. Liz Lyster, MD, MPH