Sex benefits the heart in more ways than one. In fact, research has shown that sex can provide a myriad of emotional and healthy benefits, including looking and feeling younger, reducing stress, boosting immunity, better sleep and improving cardiovascular health. (See Sex good for your heart.)
And an article published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine says that frequent sex can also reduce risk for certain cancers, lower blood pressure and lead to a longer life. The editor-in-chief, Dr. Irwin Goldstein, told CNN that when you read about the physical benefits of sex, “you can’t help but say, ‘Holy God! Sexual activity is a very important thing to do. Human beings were really meant to do this.'”
For the article, researchers looked at studies on sex and health covering several decades. Here’s what they found.
10 health benefits of sex
A longer life
Men who had intercourse at least twice a week lived longer than men who had sex less than once a month, a British study found. A study in the US had similar findings, and researchers in North Carolina found that women who reported enjoying sex lived longer than those who did not enjoy it.
A healthier heart
People who had intercourse at least twice a week were less likely to have heart attacks and other fatal coronary events, according to a British study. By comparison, those who had sex less than once a month were twice as likely to have fatal coronary events.
Lower blood pressure
More frequent sex is linked with lower diastolic blood pressure (the bottom number) in a study published in the journal Biological Psychology. An experiment also found that people who are sexually active experience less dramatic blood pressure spikes while under stress.
Lower risk of breast cancer
Women who have sex infrequently or not at all face three times the risk of breast cancer compared to sexually active women, a French study found.
Lower risk of prostate cancer
A study out of Minnesota found that men who’d had intercourse more than 3,000 times in their lives had half the risk for prostate cancer than those who had not. While the reasons for this aren’t clear, research suggested that men who had more frequent intercourse tended to have better prostate function and eliminated more waste products in their semen.
Research has shown that having sex can help to relieve lower back pain and migraines.
A slimmer physique
A German study found that men and women who engaged in sex more frequently tend to be slimmer. Each sexual encounter apparently burns 50-60 calories — so sex three times a week for a month would mean you’d burn about 700 calories, about the same amount as jogging for seven miles.
Better testosterone levels
Men who were treated for erectile problems had greater increases in testosterone when, along with the treatments, they had frequent sex.
Fewer menopause symptoms
For menopausal women, sex can mean better regulation of hormonal levels and fewer hot flashes.
Studies found that men who had frequent intercourse had a higher volume of semen, a higher sperm count and a higher percentage of healthier sperm.
The bottom line: Whether it’s a result of the physical act of having sex (with proper safe sex precautions, of course!) or the corresponding emotional satisfaction and sense of connectedness, getting physical can offer some great fringe benefits.
Sources: CNN; Journal of Sexual Medicine abstract; WebMD.