Most standard guides to improving your health will tell you the basics; eat more fruits and vegetables, exercise, drink plenty of water. They’re not quite as likely to tell you to have an active sex life. A recent survey taken by Healthy Women, a nonprofit organization, indicates that a majority of women have sex more because they feel obligated to do it than because they enjoy it. Unfortunately, these women are depriving themselves of the many health benefits sex provides even above and beyond the good feelings of the moment. Here are five examples out of the many health advantages sex can give.
Sex is a good workout. “You can burn anywhere from 85 to 250 calories every time you have sex,” explained Dr. Naomi Greenblatt, medical director of The Rocking Chair, a women’s wellness center in New Jersey. Different positions lead the participants to work different muscle groups. Sex has also been shown to have a cardiovascular benefit; a research study in Ireland discovered that men with active sex lives are 50 percent less likely to die of a cardiac event than their less active counterparts.
Sex can decrease stress levels. Dr. Greenblatt pointed out that sex causes the body to release endorphins, the hormones responsible for feelings of contentment and well-being. A 2002 study done at the State University of New York at Albany showed that women who have regular sex display fewer signs of depression than women who do not; furthermore, women who have regular unprotected sex showed fewer indications of depression than women who have regular protected sex. This study is consistent with other research indicating that sex is a mood-booster on its own and that the compounds in semen may also have mood lifting capabilities.
Sex can help with pain relief. According to Dr. Greenblatt, people on the verge of orgasm have five times more oxytocin in their bodies than they would ordinarily have. Oxytocin is known to relieve many sorts of pain, from arthritis to menstrual cramping.
Sex can boost your immune system. “People who have sex also tend to have higher levels of immunoglobulin A,” explains Dr. Greenblatt. Immunoglobulin A is an antibody produced by the body to protect the mucus membranes from infection by germs.
Sex can help maintain a youthful appearance. Scottish researchers designed a study which consisted of a panel of viewers looking at various women through a one-way mirror and attempting to guess the women’s ages. The women who were judged to be seven to 12 years younger than their true age turned out to be the ones who had sex most often, as many as four times per week. Dr. Greenblatt says sex can also elevate the body’s production of estrogen and vitamin D, which help keep skin and hair healthy.
Researchers do point out that the strong correlations between frequent sex and well-being do not necessarily mean that sex is the cause of good health. It may instead mean that people with better health are more interested in sexual activity. Even so, no evidence shows that sex is bad for the general population, so most people have nothing to lose by increasing the frequency of their sexual activity
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