Sex is an important part of many romantic relationships, but it’s also a great way to improve your mental and physical health. Here are just a few of the reasons why sex is good for your health and wellbeing.
1. Orgasm boosts your immunity.
That’s right: having an orgasm or two can boost your immune system, just like your daily vitamins.
A study conducted on a student population in Pennsylvania found that students who had sex either once or twice a week had 30% more Immunoglobulin A (IgA) compared to those who abstained from sex. Immunoglobulin A is an antibody blood protein that your body produces to fight against infection. More antibodies mean a better immune system, so take a note from these students and have some more fun in your free time.
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 cisgender men, it is evidence of the positive impact of sex on immunity.
2. Sex helps you sleep.
If you struggle to fall asleep, and can't find an effective sleep aid, having orgasms before you go to sleep just might lead to 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.
Intimacy also releases oxytocin and prolactin, both of which help to facilitate a good night’s sleep. One study found that the effect is stronger with a partner than alone. If you struggle with sleeping, you might want to look into sleep disorders and if breathing exercises or other exercises might help.
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 was more influential in lowering cortisol production which is a hormone associated with stress. Of course, receiving emotional support from a partner helps reduce stress, it was not as effective as physical comfort. Similarly, sex also releases oxytocin, which among its many other benefits is linked to reducing cortisol and therefore stress.
4. Sex can lower your blood pressure.
The impact that sex has on blood pressure is largely related to stress levels, since sex can reduce stress it may also reduce the risk of high blood pressure. Think of this as more of a preventative measure.
A study showed that the relationship between sexual behavior patterns in association with blood pressure and stress, blood pressure could be reduced through sex. Specifically, the blood pressure of participants who had penetrative intercourse showed less reactivity to stress and lower baseline levels than participants who had abstained from all sexual activity.
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 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. (Using the researchers’ language around gender.)
Good sex can also protect men 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.” (Using the researchers’ language around gender.)
The researchers also noted that regular sexual activity can increase relationship satisfaction, which can lower stress. Whereas, the lack of erotic intimacy in a relationship can lead to tension, and increase stress.
6. “It’s exercise.” (Sort of.)
Is sex exercise? Technically! Studies show that an average person can burn 3.5 calories a minute during sexual intercourse. Although, if calorie counting is really on your mind when you are having sex, you may have trouble enjoying it.
Although true, exercise should be low on your list of reasons to have sex. It may not be beneficial to associate sex with calorie counting, body image, and working out. If you think about it as a way of getting your body moving positively, it is fantastic to “work out” in bed.
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.
The rush of chemicals during sex and after orgasm is beneficial to your mental health! It can also make you feel more emotionally connected to your partner, and bring lasting joy.
8. Sex leads to more sex.
It might seem like a wild suggestion, but having sex even when you feel little interest can help boost your sex drive. If you struggle with low sex drive or low sexual desire, give it a shot.
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.
Many people regardless of gender experience responsive, rather than spontaneous, sexual desire. Responsive sexual desire means you have more interest in sex when reacting to sexual stimuli, in contrast to spontaneous arousal. This means that increasing sexual frequency by scheduling sex or incorporating erotic intimacy regularly can lead to even more and better sex.
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