Your Body is Thankful for Sex: Here's How it Lets You Know
As we wrap up this season of giving thanks, we thought it would be a good time to talk about they many important ways your body shows you it's thankful for all the great sex you have! While you won't actually get sick from not getting your rocks off regularly, there are definitely powerful health benefits to having a healthy sex life. Read on for 9 spectacular things regular, partnered sex can do for your overall health:
1. It lowers your blood pressure.
Many studies have shown that having sex can help keep your blood pressure at a healthy level. One landmark study showed that penetrative sexual intercourse, specifically, had a direct effect on lowering people's systolic blood pressure (that's the first number in your blood pressure reading). Masturbation can help, too, but to a slightly lesser extent. Maintaining lower blood pressure throughout your life is important for preventing issues like heart disease, stroke, and even erectile dysfunction.
2. It may reduce your risk of a heart attack...
…And heart disease, hypertension, and stroke. Sex lowers your blood pressure and raises your heart rate in a way that is similar to cardiovascular exercise. In one long-term study, men who had sex an average of twice a week were about half as likely to die of a heart-related condition. Sex also helps keep your estrogen and testosterone levels in the balance they should be in based on your gender. When one of those gets out of whack, they can begin to cause problems such as osteoporosis or heart disease.
One caveat here: we've all heard those drug commercials, especially for ED and blood pressure meds, that say "ask your doctor if your heart is healthy enough for sex". It's true that in some people with fairly progressed heart disease, older men especially, having sex can actually cause dangerous spikes in blood pressure and heart rate which may be harmful to them; thankfully this is rare, though. Talk to your doctor if you are concerned about what your health problems mean for your sex life, but most of the population is healthy enough to have sex regularly, reaping all those benefits to your little sex-loving heart!
3. It helps women maintain strong bladder control.
It's an unfortunate fact of life that urinary incontinence, or the inability to control when you release urine, affects an average of 30% of women at some point in their life span. Having sex, or even masturbating by thrusting in and out with a penetrative toy like a dildo, acts like a workout for your pelvic floor muscles. Strong pelvic floor muscles mean greater control of your bladder, and less likelihood for urinary leakage later in life. Having sex regularly may even help prevent more serious issues such as pelvic floor prolapse. Kegel exercises help a great deal, too, but sexual intercourse seems uniquely qualified to help strengthen these muscles. When you orgasm, those pelvic muscles contracting gives you even more of workout!
4. It can count as a workout.
OK, so getting steamy between the sheets with your lover may not be quite as intense a fitness session as an hour or two sweating at the gym, but it definitely counts as exercise! On average, we burn 200 calories during 30 minutes of sexual activity. Broken down (and depending on the physical level of your sex), having sex burns about 5-6 calories a minute...which is 4 more per minute than your body burns just sitting and watching TV! Having regular sex can also help you strengthen and tone your muscles, maintain flexibility (you've gotta be able to get into all those awesome positions, right?), and the brain chemicals released during sex may even help reduce food cravings! Have frequent sex for health AND weight loss? Count me in!
Engaging in regular (traditional) physical fitness activities with your partner can help boost your bonding as a couple and your physical intimacy, too. Losing weight, getting in shape, and staying healthy can all contribute to a boosted libido and stronger sex drive, which means you'll want each other even more often! After you hit the weight room, get in a regular bonus workout in bed to help grow that bond even stronger!
5. It gives your immune system a boost.
In addition to all the other health benefits of sex, it really might help keep you safer from pathogens, too. Studies have shown that sexually active folks may have an easier time fighting off infections, especially due to higher levels of immunoglobulin A (a beneficial generic antibody) in your mucosal tissues, like your eyes, nose, salivary glands, and vaginal lining...you know...all those areas that are usually the first place to come in contact with bacterial and viral baddies?
Of course, there are other things you need to do to keep your immune system humming along, like eating healthy, getting enough rest, staying up-to-date on immunizations, and using condoms when you don't know your partner's STI status. In addition to those things, though, having regular sex is a super-fun way to help keep your body healthy!
6. It reduces stress.
Having regular sex lowers the amount of the stress hormone cortisol in the bloodstream, leading to an overall reduction in feelings of stress (and its harmful physiological impacts) and an increased sense of well-being. Sex also increases oxytocin, the bonding or love hormone, helping you feel more connected and happier with your partner. It's a win-win!
7. Your mood & mental health will thank you, too.
We've all seen that trope in movies or TV...Someone walks in to their lunch meeting, date, or work in the morning, just smiling and glowing, and a friend says, "Wow, you look like you just got laid!" That trope isn't wrong; we really do "glow differently" when we're having a lot of sex. All the happiness, pleasure, and bonding hormones released by your brain due to sex can help improve concentration and focus, reduce pain and frequency of headaches and menstrual cramps, bond more closely with your lover, and can even boost your body image and self-esteem, making you feel more confident. Those are all amazing effects that you will definitely recognize, and your partner and friends will notice the difference, too!
8. You'll sleep better at night.
If you usually have sex before bed, you probably already know that it at least feels like you sleep better after a roll in the hay. It turns out that you're correct. Sex triggers the release of oxytocin, dopamine, and endorphins, all of which make your body feel like it's doing something really wonderful and exciting, so it tires you out faster than, say, reading a book before bed. After an orgasm, your brain also releases a hormone called prolactin, which induces feelings of satisfaction and relaxation. This is the same hormone that makes you feel super full and sleepy after a huge and carb-loaded Thanksgiving dinner; stop blaming the tryptophan in the turkey and jump in the sack instead. Then quickly decide who is big spoon and drift off to sleep in each other's arms!
9. It boosts your libido.
This one may seem obvious, but having sex actually helps make you want to have...MORE sex. Regularly getting those hormones and neurotransmitters that are triggered by sex flowing makes your brain crave that "high" more often, leading to a boosted sex drive. Having sex more regularly (and even masturbating more frequently) can help make sex better, too. Especially for women, having sex more frequently ups their vaginal lubrication levels, blood flow, and elasticity of the vaginal walls, all of which help make sex feel even better next time!
Now, hurry up and digest those Thanksgiving leftovers, and go get busy to get healthy! Your body will thank you! ;)