Sex is an important part of many romantic relationships, but it’s also a great way to improve your mental and physical health and wellbeing. Here are just a few of the reasons why sex is good for your health.
1. Orgasm boosts your immunity.
That’s right: having an orgasm or two can boost your immunity right along with your vitamin C shot.
One study of students in Pennsylvania published in the journal Psychological Reports found that those who had sex either once or twice a week had 30% more Immunoglobulin A (IgA) than those who had none at all. IgA is the first line of resistance against infection.
Another study, in the journal Neuroimmunomodulation, found that sexual arousal and orgasm activated parts of the innate immune system. Though the study involved only a small number of cis men, it’s been cited as evidence of the positive impact of sex on immunity.
2. Sex helps you sleep.
Having orgasms before you go to sleep just might lead to a better rest. According to a study on sex and sleep in the journal Frontiers of Public Health, “sex with a partner involving an orgasm may serve as a means to promote and improve sleep.” It’s not just partnered sex — more than half of the participants in the study also reported better sleep after masturbation, suggesting that orgasms, not just sex, could be the key.
Sex also releases oxytocin and prolactin, both of which help to facilitate a good night’s sleep, though one study found that the effect is stronger with a partner than alone.
3. Sex is a way to de-stress.
Stress can influence your sex life, but did you know that your sex life can also influence your stress?
According to one study in the journal Scientific Reports, physical touch lowered the stress hormone cortisol in a way that receiving emotional support from a partner didn’t. Sex also releases oxytocin, which among its many other benefits has been linked to reducing cortisol and therefore stress.
4. Sex can lower your blood pressure.
In a study examining the relationship of “sexual behavior patterns” in association with blood pressure and its reactivity to stress, it was found that blood pressure could be reduced through sex. It also found that the blood pressure of participants who had penile-vaginal intercourse showed less reactivity to stress and lower baseline levels than participants who had abstained from all sexual activity.
However, it’s also worth noting that the impact that sex has on an individual’s blood pressure levels is largely related to stress levels: sex can reduce stress, and lower stress may support treatments for high blood pressure. Think of this as more of a preventative measure. If you are medically diagnosed with high blood pressure, make sure to consult your physician about engaging in sex or activities that may temporarily alter your circulatory system or increase your blood pressure.
5. Sex is good for heart health.
Good sex can protect women (to use the researchers’ language around gender) from cardiovascular events like hypertension later in life, according to a study (pdf) published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. Women who described their sexual relationship as “extremely physically pleasurable” and those who felt extremely satisfied with it had lower odds of undiagnosed and uncontrolled hypertension compared to those who reported it was not very physically pleasurable and those who did not feel emotionally satisfied.
Good sex can also protect men (to use the researchers’ language around gender) from heart attacks. According to a study of middle-aged men in the American Journal of Cardiology, having sex once a month or less was associated with a higher risk of cardiovascular disease, compared to having sex two times a week. The authors note that while it’s possible sex could indicate better overall health, “sexual activity in some forms has a physical activity component that might directly serve to protect cardiovascular health.” They also noted that regular sexual activity could mean having a better relationship with a supportive partner, meaning lower stress.
6. “It’s exercise.” (Sort of.)
“Exercise” should be low on your list of reasons to have sex. Reject the notion that everything (including sex) must be for the sake of production or self-improvement. Say no to body-negative thinking. Is sex technically exercise? Sure, if you count burning 3.5 calories a minute “exercise.” Should “for the workout” be on your top ten reasons to have sex? No. Should “how many calories am I burning right now” be what you think about during it? Absolutely not.
7. Sex is a mood-booster.
Oxytocin strikes again. The “love hormone” released during sex has been tied to emotional responses that have to do with trust, relaxation, and emotional stability, according to a study in Cell Metabolism.
8. Sex leads to more sex.
If you struggle with low sex drive or low sexual desire, having sex can help.
For instance, clinical psychologist and Lover co-founder Dr. Britney Blair recommends that people with vulvas masturbate once a day. “Get your body used to climax,” Dr. Blair says.
Because many people of all genders experience responsive, rather than spontaneous, sexual desire, increasing sexual frequency by scheduling sex or incorporating erotic intimacy regularly can lead to even more and better sex.
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