Having regular sex can help you prevent disease, fight pain and keep healthy. Illustration: Uttam Ghosh
We often associate good health with effort and sacrifice. We keep fit by maintaining a gruelling exercise regime and watch our weight by depriving ourselves of foods we love. Thankfully, there are some pleasurable things in life that are healthy too. One of these is sex.
Most of us agree that sex is an important source of physical intimacy that also helps to cement the emotional relationship between man and woman. Sexual intimacy helps couples know and communicate with each other better. It helps them to tide over stress and constructively deal with feelings of frustration, anger of resentment arising out of living together.
But frequent, safe sexual activity is also known to keep you healthy. Here's how:
Sex benefits the heart: The physical act of sex boosts cardiovascular health and improves heart function. A British study researching this concluded that men who had sex two or more times in a week lowered their risk of heart attacks over a period of ten years.
Lowers blood pressure: Research published in Biological Psychology states that those who have sex frequently have lower levels of diastolic blood pressure. Other studies have also suggested that regular sex helps to regulate blood pressure in times of stress.
Burns calories: The physical activity involved in sex also helps to burn calories. Some experts maintain that each session of sex can burn as much as 50 to 60 calories. A study conducted in Germany also suggested that people who had sex more often had slimmer figures.
Strengthens muscles: Sex necessarily includes vigorous movements of the back, abdomen, arms and legs. Its overall effect is thus quite similar to exercise, which increases flexibility in the limbs and strengthens the muscles. In fact, frequent sex can have a beneficial effect on your ability to exercise and vice versa.
Relieves pain: Having sex is associated with the release of endorphins -- neurotransmitters or brain chemicals that reduce the sensation of pain. Research carried out at the Rutgers University, New Jersey, established that stimulating the sensitive G-spot in the vagina helped women to tolerate 40 percent more pain; during orgasm this ability to tolerate pain increased to 75 percent. Sexually active people are thus believed to better handle the pain associated with conditions such as arthritis, back pain and migraine.
Improves fertility: Research at Yale and Southern Connecticut State Universities found that women who had sex (or used tampons) during their periods reduced their chances of endometriosis, an abnormal growth of uterus-like cells outside the uterus that is a common cause of infertility among women.
Research has also shown that frequent sexual activity increased testosterone levels in men with erectile problems. Frequent sexual intercourse -- in preference to other forms of sexual activity -- has also been shown to improve semen volume, sperm count and sperm quality in men.
Prevents cancer: Having sex is associated with a lower rate of some cancers. Research conducted in France showed that the risk of developing breast cancer was three times higher in women who either never or rarely had intercourse. A study from Minnesota stated that men who had intercourse over 30,000 times reduced their risk of prostate cancer by half.
Promotes longevity: According to some research, having more sex could even help you to live longer. Two studies, from Britain and the US, reported that men who had frequent sex lived longer. Similarly, a study from Sweden concluded that men who died before they turned 75 had stopped having intercourse early on.