Benefits of Sex

The benefits of sex include physical, emotional, and psychological benefits, and research shows that the more safe sex you have the healthier you’ll be.
Benefits of Sex with Man and Woman Kissing in Shower

SEX SCIENCE:

Health Benefits Of Sexual Intercourse

The physical benefits of sexual activity include increased metabolism, caloric burn, weight loss, improved cardiovascular health, immune benefits, increased estrogen and testosterone production, heightened levels of the “youth” hormone DHEA, olfactory neuron production (a.k.a. improved sense of smell), increased levels of oxytocin (a hormone that can promote feelings of bonding and trust), neurogenesis or the creation of new brain cells, clearer skin, improved prostate health for men, and the release of endorphins, which can promote feelings of pleasure and reduce pain.

Emotional and psychological benefits of sex can include reduced stress, improved mood, better sleep, and enhanced emotional intimacy and communication with a partner. Sex can also improve self-esteem and body image as well as enhance the sense of overall well-being.

The benefits of sex can vary depending on an individual’s sexual preferences and lifestyle, and engaging in sexual activity always comes with inherent risks, it’s important to practice safe sex in order to reduce the risk of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unwanted pregnancy.

Sex Helps Boost Metabolism, Improve Weight Loss and Burn Calories

Sex is considered one of the finest high-intensity interval workouts known to man and it keeps your metabolism working even after you’ve finished the act. In this section, we will explore the various ways in which sexual activity can impact metabolism and weight loss, and discuss the potential mechanisms behind these effects.

Studies have shown that sexual arousal, engaging in sexual activities, and orgasming are associated with the release of various neurotransmitters and hormones in the brain including adrenaline, dopamine, and oxytocin.

Orgasms trigger the release of adrenaline, which boosts your metabolic rate and speeds up your heart, leading to caloric burn. Sex also increases heart rate and blood flow, leading to an increase in the number of calories burned.

Studies show that each orgasm can burn between 60 and 100 calories. Making out for 30 minutes is reported to burn an average 230 calories, while sex with a partner can burn around 150 (and sometimes 200+ – depending on enthusiasm) calories every half hour.

Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that is involved in pleasure and reward pathways in the brain as well as metabolism. During sexual arousal and orgasm, dopamine levels in the brain are thought to increase. This increase in dopamine not only contributes to the feelings of pleasure and satisfaction associated with sexual activity, but also causes weight loss (Folguiera et al, 2019).

Research shows that dopamine receptors in the hypothalamus, a region of the brain that plays a key role in metabolism, are involved in the regulation of energy balance. Dopamine is thought to act on these receptors to help control food intake and energy expenditure.

Furthermore, dopamine agonists, which are medications that stimulate dopamine receptors, have been shown to promote weight loss (Simonds & Cowley, 2019).

Additionally, the release of hormones such as oxytocin during sexual activity can also promote feelings of well-being and reduce stress, which may lead to improved weight management.

Want to learn more about sex and weight loss? Check out our post on How Sex Can Make You Lose Weight.

Sex Boosts Cardiovascular Health

Evidence suggests that sex may have a positive effect on cardiovascular health. During sexual activity, the heart rate increases and blood flow to the coronary arteries (the blood vessels that supply blood to the heart muscle) increases. This increase in blood flow can help to keep the coronary arteries open and prevent the build-up of plaque, which is a major risk factor for heart disease.

Additionally, sexual activity may also improve cardiovascular health by reducing stress and improving overall well-being. Stress can be a major risk factor for heart disease, and engaging in sexual activity has been shown to reduce stress levels and promote feelings of relaxation.

Sex Boosts Immunity

Sex is one of the best immune system boosters you can get your hands on. For one, according to gynecologist Dr. Dudley Chapman orgasms boost infection fighting cells by up to 20%. For two, a 1999 study of 111 undergraduates, aged 16 to 23, conducted by Dr. Carl Charnetski and his colleague Frank Brennan from Wilkes University in Pennsylvania found that students engaging in sexual activity once or twice a week had a third higher levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA). That’s 33% more of an antigen found in saliva and mucosal linings that comprises our first line of defense against colds and flus. When compared to participants who abstained completely, students who had sex less than once a week experienced a tiny upsurge in IgA. So, the more the better.

A follow-up study by Charnetski and Brennan published in 2004 showed similar significant group differences in levels of IgA based on frequency of sexual encounters, while also revealing that that neither relationship length nor sexual satisfaction were related to the observed group differences.

Showing that sex is good for you and good for business, another study, examining the sex lives of ninety thousand American adults, showed that when compared to their less sexual counterparts, sexually active adults take fewer sick days.

Research also shows that a molecule found in sperm called TGF beta is reported to boost the activities of natural killer immune cells (NK cells). A type of white blood cell, NK cells are known for sending self-destruct messages to tumors and virus infected cells.

Sex Increases Estrogen

You got it. Increases in levels of the female sex hormone estrogen are another reason why sex is good for you. Behavioral endocrinology specialist Dr. Winnifred Cutler reported that women who engaged in regular sexual activity had higher blood estrogen levels than women who had little or no sex. Healthy estrogen levels are implicated in cardiovascular function, increased bone density, smoother skin and lower bad cholesterol. Due to its association with high estrogen and low androgen, smooth skin in women can be an indicator of health and fertility.

Sex Increases Testosterone

Regular sexual activity increases levels of the male sex hormone testosterone, promoting optimal brain function while helping to strengthen bones and muscles. For individuals with low testosterone the risk for developing Alzheimer’s disease is reportedly twice as high. Additionally, low levels of testosterone are now being recognized as an independent risk factor for obesity, the metabolic syndrome, and type 2 diabetes. Correspondingly, testosterone replacement therapy has been shown to significantly reduce metabolic risk factors including body fat mass, waist circumference, plasma glucose, and insulin resistance. Testosterone is also linked to a healthy sex drive.

Sex Raises DHEA Levels

Orgasms raise levels of the hormone DHEA. Sometimes referred to as the youth hormone due to its decreasing levels with age, DHEA supports healthy brain function, balances the immune system, helps to maintain and repair tissue, improves cardiovascular health and promotes healthy skin.

Just before orgasm, levels of DHEA have been shown to surge to several times their normal level.

Sexual activity has been found to be associated with changes in the levels of various hormones, including dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA).

Studies have shown that sexual activity can lead to an increase in DHEA levels in both men and women. The exact mechanisms behind this effect are not well understood, but it is thought to be related to the release of stress-related hormones such as cortisol and adrenaline during sexual activity.

Studies have shown that DHEA levels increase in response to sexual arousal and orgasm, particularly in men. This increase in DHEA levels may contribute to the feelings of pleasure and satisfaction associated with sexual activity. Additionally, DHEA may also play a role in the regulation of sexual behavior and libido, and it has been suggested that it may have an effect on the development of secondary sexual characteristics.

Sex Boosts Prolactin

Prolactin is a hormone that is produced by the pituitary gland in the brain. It is best known for its role in stimulating milk production in women who are breastfeeding, but it also has several other important functions in the body.

One of the functions of prolactin is to inhibit sexual behavior and reduce sexual desire. Prolactin levels in the blood typically increase after sexual intercourse, and this increase can last for several hours. This is thought to be the body’s way of reducing the likelihood of further sexual activity, and may help to explain the phenomenon of “sexual refractory period” in men, which is the time after ejaculation when a man is unable to have another erection.

Sex Improves Sense of Smell

Sex may enhance your sense of smell by triggering a surge in the hormone prolactin, which plays a role in the production of new neurons (also known as neurogenesis) in the olfactory bulb.

The post-intercourse surge in production of the hormone prolactin triggers stem cells in the brain to produce new neurons in the olfactory bulb, the brain’s smell center, which is the part of the brain responsible for processing and interpreting smells.

Studies in animals have shown that prolactin can promote the proliferation and differentiation of stem cells in the olfactory bulb, leading to the formation of new neurons (Shingo, Gregg, Enwere, Fujikawa, Hassam, Geary, & Weiss, 2003).

Additionally, studies have also shown that prolactin can affect the survival of newborn neurons in the olfactory bulb and promote the formation of new neural connections.

Sex Increases Oxytocin

Sex boosts levels of oxytocin, a hormone typically released during birth and in response to favorable sensory stimuli such as touch, warmth, and odor. Immediately prior to orgasm, oxytocin levels surge to five times their normal level. Increases in oxytocin levels have been found to exert anxiolytic and sedative effects, and have been linked to corresponding increases in socialness, calmness, and tolerance to monotomy. A 2003 study by Tomizawa et al. found that increases in oxytocin resulted in improved synaptic plasticity in hippocampal neurons, suggesting that oxytocin may be involved in improving hippocampus-dependent learning and memory.

Sex Triggers Brain Cell Growth

Sex promotes neurogenesis (the creation of new neurons) and prevents age-related brain atrophy. Acute sexual experiences have been shown to enhance cell proliferation in the dentate gyrus of the adult hippocampus. Part of the limbic system, the hippocampus is implicated in mediating higher brain functions such as learning, memory, and spatial coding. 

With increasing age, the brain, and especially the hippocampus, undergoes physical shrinkage and functional decline.Beginning in our late twenties, the average human begins losing about 1% of hippocampal volume per year. By spurring the growth of new brain cells, however, sex stands not only to halt this neuronal death, but also to reverse it, adding years back on to our lives. 

Sex also improves learning by ensuring neuronal versatility. While the creation of new brain cells (gray matter) is indeed critical to preventing our brains from wasting away, cells that are not used and connected to the existing network by means of synaptic connections (white matter) will die off. 

Learning is one way by which new neurons can be looped in and the cells created by means of physical activities such as sexual intercourse are more readily connected to the neuronal grid than those formed under physically stagnant conditions. Compared to sex generated neurons, cells gained during non-physical learning tasks such as reading are only re-activated when performing the same activity that created them. 

These neurons lack the versatility needed for other applications and are thus severely limited in their capacities and resultantly their usefulness. As they are relevant only to the specific scenario during which they were created and unable to be utilized in other endeavors, these static brain cells appear to be encoded with a kind of learning that does not transfer to other types of thinking. 

On the contrary, neurons acquired during physically tasking activities such as sexual intercourse, are capable of being reactivated under highly diverse conditions and circumstances, meaning you get more bang for your buck. Neurons gained by means of sex, will thus not only become re-engaged during repetitions of sexual experience, but will also be capable of being utilized towards other cognitive pursuits like exploring new environments or solving chemistry equations.

Sex Clears Skin

Doing the dirty improves physical appearance and helps maintain youth. By causing a surge in circulation, sexual encounters increase nutrient flow to the skin. Additionally, by boosting estrogen levels, sex leads to smoother, clearer skin.

Sex Improves Prostate Health

Ejaculation frequency lowers the risk of prostate cancer in men. Although scientists previously speculated that increased ejaculation is associated with a higher incidence of prostate cancer, it turns out the opposite is true. 

Based on a sample of 2,338 men, a 2003 Australian study led by Dr. Graham Giles and published in the British Journal of Urology International found that the more often men ejaculate, between the ages of 20 and 50, the less likely they are to develop prostate cancer. Giles study found that this protective effect was most prominent in men in their twenties who ejaculated an average of seven or more times per week. When compared to men in their twenties who ejaculated three times or less per week, the high frequency ejaculation group was one third less likely to develop prostate cancer. 

Corroborating the findings of Giles’ Australian study, a subsequent study conducted in the United States and led by Michael Leitzmann, at the National Cancer Institute in Bethesda, Maryland followed the lives of nearly 30,000 men over 8 years. The study showed that men who ejaculated most frequently significantly reduced their chances of developing prostate cancer. Compared to the reference group comprised of men who ejaculated only four to seven times a month, men in the group with the highest lifetime average ejaculation of 21 times per month were a third less likely to get prostate cancer.

Sex Relieves Stress

Sex relieves stress. According to biologist Alfred Kinsey, people who experience fulfilling sex lives are less anxious, less violent and less hostile. Despite causing an initial acute spike in glucocorticoid production and physiological stress, sex ultimately results in stress relief. It’s likely that oxytocin, which possesses physiological anti-stress effects partly evidenced by decreases in blood pressure and the stress hormone cortisol, may be part of the reason why sex relieves stress. 

In fact, scientists believe that long-term anti-stress effects, including a decreased rise in cortisol during exposure to stressful stimuli, may be mediated by increased oxytocin release. This is important because increased levels of cortisol result in physiological disruption and problematic health issues including high blood pressure and deterioration of the body systems. Stress has also been shown to induce illness and contribute to disease progression and symptomatology, both of which have a negative impact on overall health and quality of life.

Sex Boosts Mood

Another benefit of sex is that it decreases depressive symptomatology. Perhaps unsurprisingly, when examining the sex lives of ninety thousand American adults the Institute for Advanced Study of Human Sexuality found that sexually active people enjoy life more than individuals who experience sex infrequently or not at all. Perhaps in part due to the fact that orgasms cause serious increases in deep limbic activity, people who engage in regular sexual activity experience a decreased incidence of depression.

Sex Improves Sleep

Improved sleep quality and relaxation are important health benefits of sex we could all use more of. Sex induced release of oxytocin and endorphins produces a sedative effect, which promotes rest and relaxation.

Sources

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