When Marvin Gaye sang about “Sexual Healing,” he didn’t know the half of it. Besides being one of life’s greatest pleasures and a boon to intimacy with your partner, a satisfying sex life also can enhance your health in numerous ways. Sure, it can burn calories, relieve stress and help you fall asleep more easily, but these health-promoting effects are just the tip of the iceberg.
Score one for the pleasure principle: Sex, practiced safely and in moderation, could help keep you from getting sick. Research found that college students who made love once or twice a week had substantially higher levels of immunoglobulin A—or IgA, the body’s first line of defense against colds and flu—compared with those who were either abstinent or had sex three or more times per week.
Vaginal stimulation produces a strong pain-blocking effect, possibly due in part to the release of endorphins—brain chemicals with opioid-like properties. Stimulation of a woman’s G-spot can elevate the pain threshold by over 100 percent with orgasm and over 80 percent with pleasurable stimulation.
This means vaginal stimulation during a sexually satisfying romp between the sheets—or anywhere else, for that matter—could relieve a headache, menstrual cramps, arthritis pain, even chronic pain, for anywhere from several minutes up to 24 hours.
Get Happy, Live Longer
An active sex life may do a body and a marriage good over the years: Sexual satisfaction is closely linked with overall quality of life and increased sense of well-being, for both men and women, at any age. For men, there may even be a longevity benefit.
Use it or Lose It
In postmenopausal women, frequent sex—three or more times per month—also may help prevent vaginal atrophy and dryness. One possible reason: Women who engage in regular sexual activity may have more natural estrogens circulating in their bodies, which can protect vaginal tissue.
In men, frequent ejaculations are not only linked with better sexual function as they age, but also to a decreased risk of prostate cancer. In one study, researchers at the National Cancer Institute found that men who reported 21 or more ejaculations per month had a 33 percent lower risk of developing prostate cancer over their lifetimes, compared to those ejaculating 4 to 7 times per month.
Regulate Your Hormones
Women who have intercourse at least once a week (when they don’t have their periods) tend to have more regular menstrual cycles, more fertile basal body temperature patterns, and substantially higher levels of estrogen than those who are less sexually active. Added bonuses: “Women who had regular weekly sex—think of it like a paycheck; never missing a week—were more fertile and they aged more slowly,” experts say. When they reached menopause, they also had fewer hot flashes and better bone density and cardiovascular health.
So that’s the story: Having regular sex with someone you love is not only good for your relationship, it’s good for the health and well-being of your body and mind, too.