Sex & fertility
The health benefits of sex
While growing up many of us were told that sex was something we should stay away
from — or at least not talk about! Sensuality is an innate part of our being,
but girls are often taught to tamp it down. Ladies, we are told, guard their reputations
carefully; by the time we are mature enough to handle a sexual relationship, our
bodies may have incorporated the “good girl” image. That’s unfortunate,
because what we weren’t told is that sexual pleasure comes with many emotional
and physical health benefits.
Luckily, it’s never too late to reap the health benefits of sex. And for those
of us entering menopause, we are finally at an age to enjoy sex without the fear
of getting pregnant! Whether you’re a young woman or a granny, it’s
time understand your
libido and to stop thinking of sex as just another “guilty pleasure”
and celebrate in the knowledge that it’s good for your health. Here’s
Sex can improve your cardiovascular health. Hopefully
you’ve noticed that whenever you feel sexually aroused, your heart and breathing
rates increase! Our bodies do this in order to channel more blood to the genitals
in preparation for the act of sex. But that’s not all there is to it. One
“dusky glance” is all it takes to up the level of adrenaline in your
bloodstream — and as things proceed from there a whole cascade of hormones
gets released during the arousal and climax process, including adrenaline, noradrenaline,
prolactin, DHEA, and testosterone, most all of which have cardioprotective effects.
A side benefit to all this “awakening” of the physical body is that
it builds the strength of the heart and circulatory system.
And once orgasm is achieved, both men and women release a hormone called oxytocin.
That surge of oxytocin has many “anticlimactic” actions, just one of
which is lowering blood pressure. And as we know, healthy blood pressure makes it
less likely you’ll suffer from a heart attack or stroke. In fact, a study
done on over 900 men between the ages of 45 and 59, suggests that having sex two
times or more per week may aid in preventing cardiac events, such as stroke and
heart attack. Though this study didn’t include women, it certainly shows promise
for all of us, given that much of the chemistry involved applies to both genders.
Sex can improve your sleep. Both women and men have noticed
the urge to relax and close their eyes after an orgasm. We feel so relaxed in this
state that we can easily doze off — even if we otherwise suffer from insomnia.
This may also have something to do with oxytocin and the release of endorphins at
orgasm, both of which can act like natural sedatives.
Sex provides the benefits of exercise. Just as our bodies
respond to a workout at the gym or a brisk walk, sex causes our muscles to contract,
our heart rates to increase, and our bodies to release calories and fat from storage
to create more energy. This means that engaging in sex gives us all the health paybacks
Sex is helpful in easing pain. Have you ever noticed that
while you are intimate with a partner, it’s much easier to forget about the
aches and pains in your body? Women in two small studies have noticed that their
tolerance for pain increases while they are sexually stimulated. This may be because
stimulation and orgasm lead to the release of corticosteroids and endorphins that
increase our pain thresholds, providing short-term relief for women with menstrual
cramps, migraines, back pain or arthritis.
Sex can improve mood and decrease depression. The same
endorphins that ease our pain can make us feel euphoric after having sex or masturbating.
And this doesn’t change as we get older. In fact, a small study of 30 elderly
women and men showed a correlation between masturbation and decreased risk of depression.
Sex can relieve stress. Along with all the other benefits
oxytocin provides, you can add stress relief to the list as well. We’ve heard
some women describe reaching orgasm as the ultimate release. It is the moment when
they can let everything go. Oxytocin is known to be present when we are in stressful
situations and those with higher levels of oxytocin are generally calmer and more
relaxed than others. Another interesting finding from a study done at UCLA shows
that the estrogen present in women enhances the calming effects of oxytocin, while
testosterone may counteract it. This may explain why many of us feel the urge to
cuddle and bond after sex.
Sex can enhance your sense of spirituality. Many ancient
traditions view sexuality as something sacred and spiritual, as opposed to “sinful.”
Sexual energy, they say, is unlike any other, and when we merge with this power
during orgasm, some believe that we are connecting to the deepest parts of ourselves,
our non-physical aspects. Not only do we gain a deeper sense of ourselves, but we
can experience an energy that feeds other areas of our lives. Many who think of
sex as a spiritual practice tell us they have a stronger sense of self and of their
At Women to Women, we understand that for many women expressing
themselves sexually is an essential piece to their core selves. We encourage that
expression for the sake of emotional well-being and for the sake of good physical
health. When thinking about ways to enhance your whole-health picture, be sure to
consider the positive aspects of engaging in sex. As a woman, fulfilling your sexual
needs need not require a partner (see our article and
survey on the female masturbation).
Instead of placing sex in the guilty pleasures category, know that it is one more
way to be healthier — and happier!
Our Personal Program is a great place to start
The Personal Program promotes natural hormonal balance with nutritional supplements,
our exclusive endocrine support formula, dietary and lifestyle guidance, and optional
phone consultations with our Nurse–Educators. It is a convenient, at-home
version of what we recommend to all our patients at the clinic.
If you have questions, don't hesitate to call us toll-free at
1-800-798-7902. We're here to listen and help.
Related to this article:
References & further reading on the
health benefits of sex
Last Modified Date: 04/19/2011
Principal Author: Amy Amoroso