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10 health benefits of sex

Last updated on: September 15, 2009 11:47 IST
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Sex is more than just about hormonal discharge and momentary pleasure. In fact, sex has much more to it than most of us think and know. Around 300 AD a philosopher named Ko Hung wrote, "the more a man copulates, the greater will be the benefit he derives from the act...". However, modern science took a little time to come around to the fact that sex is good for both mental and physical health.

Sex is good for adults. Indulging on a regular basis, at least once a week, is even better. The obvious benefits like it can burn calories, relieve stress and help you fall asleep more easily are there, but these are just the tip of the iceberg. Given below are some more reasons why sex may help you live a longer, happier life:

1. Sex relieves pain: Immediately before orgasm, the level of the hormone oxytocin rises to five times normal levels. This in turn releases endorphins, which alleviate pain. So if your headache, arthritis pain, or PMS symptoms seem to improve after sex, you can thank those higher oxytocin levels.

2. Sex increases immunity: Sexual intercourse once or twice a week raises the body's level of the immune-boosting antibody immunoglobulin A (IgA). This secretion increases the overall immunity level of the body which keeps cold and flu away.

3. Sex reduces stress: Satisfying sexual activity can, of course, be an exhilarating mood lifter. Recent research revealed that people who have more sex reported that they felt more at ease, happier and learned how to handle stress better. During orgasm, there is a surge in oxytocin, which may account for both the stronger emotional connection between partners and tension relief.

4. Sex promotes longevity: Having an orgasm releases the hormone DHEA (Dehydroepiandrosterone), which works as an anti-depressant and improves immunity levels in the body. DHEA can repair tissue, improve cognition, keep skin healthy. Also, according to a british study of 1,000 men found those who had at least two orgasms a week had half the death rate of their countrymen who indulge less than once a month.

5. Sex increases blood circulation: Sex increases blood circulation, beneficial especially for the brain, due to increased heart rate and deep breathing. As fresh blood supply arrives, your cells and organs are saturated with fresh oxygen and hormones, and as the used blood is removed, you also remove waste products that cause fatigue and even illness.

6. Sex helps you sleep better: Not only does the oxytocin released during orgasm make you feel all coupled up, but research has shown it also helps you sleep. And getting enough restful sleep has been linked with a host of other good things, such as maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure.

7. Sex improves cardiovascular health: In a recent study, scientists found the frequency of sex was associated with strokes in the 914 men they followed for 20 years. The researchers also found that having sex twice or more a week reduced the risk of heart attack or stroke by half for the men, compared with those who had sex less than once a month.

8. Sex reduces prostate cancer risk: Prostate gland-related disorders are known to be caused by or worsen as a result of the secretions from the gland. Regular sexual activity eliminates these harmful secretions and also helps protect the gland from cancer. According to researchers, frequent ejaculations, especially in 20-something men, may reduce the risk of prostate cancer later in life. Another study found that frequent ejaculations, 21 or more a month, were linked to lower prostate cancer risk in older men compared with less frequent ejaculations of four to seven monthly.

9. Sex helps in weight loss and overall fitness: While you might not want to hang up your gym shoes just yet if you're looking to lose weight, regular sex can help add activity to your lifestyle. Thirty minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more. It may not sound like much, but it adds up: 42 half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, more than enough to lose a pound (or 0.45 kg). Sex also boosts production of testosterone, which leads to stronger bones and muscles.

10. Sex boosts testosterone and estrogen: Regular sexual activity boosts both testosterone and estrogen levels in both men and women. Testosterone is what makes the sex drive in men and women more aggressive. Besides boosting your libido, testosterone fortifies bones and muscles. It also keeps your heart healthy and good cholesterol high. In women, sex increases estrogen levels, which protects against heart disease. It is estrogen that makes a woman want to be touched and feel romantic, it is testosterone that evokes sexual arousal. Estrogen also plays a huge role in a woman's body scent.

Men's bodies also produce estrogen. Some estrogen helps a man to develop the softer, more nurturing, feminine side of his personality. As men age, the testosterone-estrogen balance begins to shift, with testosterone decreasing and estrogen increasing, and this is one reason why many men seem to mellow out as they get older.

Good, healthy sex with someone that you love has survival benefits. The caressing, hugging, stroking and cuddling promote feelings of love, nurture and care. Any expression of love and emotional intimacy encourages healing. Thus, sex with the touching and caressing related to being in love puts a smile on our face for health benefits as well.

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