If ever there was good medical news, it’s this: Sex is good for your health. Honestly.
Research has linked regular, pleasurable sex to multiple health benefits, including:
- Pain relief. Women report in numerous studies that sexual activity helps with relief of chronic pain, such as back pain and headaches, and that they have a higher threshold of pain when they engage in sex regularly. One reason is the increase of the feel-good endorphin hormones, the body’s natural painkiller, brought on by sexual arousal and orgasm.
- Fighting flu and colds. Sex also increases your levels of immunoglobulin A (lgA), the cell protein that fights viral infections and helps you ward off colds and flu. A study of Pennsylvania college students showed that those who engaged in sexual activity once or twice a week had 30 percent higher levels of lgA than students who were abstinent.
- Cutting down on cancer. Different studies show a strong correlation between men who ejaculate frequently (solo or with a partner) and a reduced risk for prostate cancer and heart disease, and an increased life span. Men who had 21 or more ejaculations per month from ages 40-49 and up had a lower risk of prostate cancer than those men who reported just 4-7 ejaculations per month.
- Looking younger. A 10-year study of more than 3,500 people examining factors associated with youthfulness found that the participants who had the most sexual activity were generally thought to be about 10 years younger than their actual age.
Get sweaty. Studies show that working out with a partner makes you stick to an exercise program longer. How about working out with your significant other? Try scheduling a regular run, tennis game, swim or some other physical activity with your partner. You’ll both feel more energized, connected and confident.
See Yourself as Sexy
It’s tough, though, to feel like having frequent sex if you are not comfortable with your body. A negative body image is the number one sexual issue for women, according to a recent survey in Health Magazine. Patti Britton, PhD, a clinical sexologist and author of “The Art of Sex Coaching,” says that for women, this negative self-image is most often related to weight gain, constant exposure to unrealistic media images of women and aging. While less common in men, she notes, they are also affected by body-image issues — especially related to whether there’s hair or not.
To combat this negative self-image, you (or the one you love) can take two approaches. (Happily, they work together.) First, make peace with your body — imperfections and all. To “reprogram” a woman’s inner dialogue, for instance, Dr. Britton helps women catch themselves when they say self-deprecating messages. “It’s about demystifying the idealized imagery,” she says. “A lot of this idealized imagery comes from looking at Hollywood images.”
Second: Exercise regularly.
Exercise, Sex and Self-Esteem
“Exercise can help people feel better about their bodies,” Dr. Herbenick says, “which can make them feel more open to sex and more interested in it.” Let’s face it, when you exercise regularly, you improve your overall health, which makes you feel more energetic (and feel more like making whoopee). Not only that, exercise boosts self-esteem, as does sex. Do both regularly, and you’re going to feel better about yourself — and probably take better care of yourself overall.
In fact, studies show that people with active sex lives tend to exercise more frequently and have better dietary habits than those who are less sexually active. Whether a healthy lifestyle is caused by or is the result of a healthy sex life has not been determined. But one thing is clear: They are connected. If you don’t have either, start working on improving one and the other is likely to follow.— by Joelie Klein