There is an anti-aging, immune-boosting, stress-reducing, mood-enhancing and hormone- balancing secret out there—and it’s not just for the stars! It's sex. Did you know that having regular sex will give you a host of physiological and psychological benefits? Here's why:
1. It's a natural pain reliever: Sex causes increased production of oxytocin, which is often referred to as the “love hormone". Before orgasm, oxytocin, released from the brain, surges up to five times the normal level. This increase then leads to the release of endorphins, our natural pain-killing hormones. The area of the brain involved in pain reduction is highly activated during arousal and endorphins are released; endorphins soothe nerve impulses that cause menstrual cramps, migraines or joint pain. Doesn’t this provide the perfect comeback to the old “not tonight honey, I have a headache”? Oxytocin also affects the way we feel, helping us form strong emotional bonds as well as reduce pain. According to a study by Beverly Whipple, professor emeritus at Rutgers University and a famed sexologist and author, when women have an orgasm, pain tolerance threshold and pain detection threshold increases significantly, by up to 74.6 percent and 106.7 percent respectively.
2. It’s a stress reliever: The endorphins released during sexual intercourse and orgasms are natural mood-boosters and stress relievers. Regular sex can also boost your self-esteem and increase intimacy between partners. For those in a monogamous relationship, studies have found that semen does contain several mood-altering hormones that can reduce depression, testosterone, oestrogen, follicle-stimulating hormone, luteinizing hormone, prolactin and several different prostaglandins. Some of these changes have been detected in a women's blood within hours of exposure to semen.
3. It boosts immunity: Endorphins released during intimacy have been found to stimulate immune system cells that fight disease. Researchers have found higher levels of Immunoglobulin A in individuals who have regular sex. Immunoglobulin A is a type of antibody that helps to protect us from infections. It is normally found in high levels in the mucous membranes of the digestive and respiratory tracts.
4. It’s good for your heart: Intercourse, depending on your level of enthusiasm, can be considered aerobic exercise, burning up to 200 calories per session. Among other benefits, women who engage in regular sexual activity with their partners have higher levels of estrogen, which protects against heart disease. Research has found that men who have sex two times per week have fewer heart attacks than those who do not. The hormones released during sex cause an increase in blood pressure and heart rate, and it engages almost every muscle in the body. After sex, blood vessels dilate and blood pressure is then reduced. This change in blood vessel constriction may also help with tension headaches.
5. It turns back the clock: A 2002 report from a large British population of men said researchers found a 50 percent reduction in overall mortality in the group of men who said they had the most orgasms. The Journal of the American Medical Association has also reported that “high ejaculation frequency was related to decreased risk of total prostate cancer.” Having regular orgasms can increase your life span. Every time you reach orgasm, the hormone DHEA increases in response to sexual excitement and orgasm. DHEA can boost your immune system, improve cognition, keep skin healthy, and even work as an antidepressant. Therefore, the added health benefit is that you will feel—and look—younger, longer.
6. It gives you a glow: The glow of good sex is real. Women who have more sex have higher levels of estrogen, which is essential to enjoying healthier, smoother skin. This increase in estrogen also helps to protect us from heart disease, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s disease. Not only that, but the more sex you have, the more your partner will want it; when we are more sexually active we give off more pheromones, the chemicals we produce to increase the interest of the opposite sex. It also promotes the production of collagen, which keeps the skin supple and gives you a healthy glow.
Still not feeling in the mood? If you notice a decrease in your libido, do not let it go unaddressed. Your sex drive is a basic human need—if you have no sex drive it is an indication of a hormonal imbalance. Relationship problems, depression, hormonal imbalance or stress can contribute to a lack of libido. Consider supplements to raise testosterone or reduce stress, such as those suggested in my three-step program for hormonal health and wellness outlined in The Hormone Diet. I also encourage you to see your doctor for proper assessment.
More from Chatelaine:
What is 'normal' when it comes to your sex life?
How 'slow sex' can improve your relationship
Six ways to revitalize your relationship
What divorce can teach us about how to make love last
What really turns women on and how men have got it complicated
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