The Health Benefits Of Sex
By Sara Novak
It is looked at with such shame in our culture. Sex feels dirty and somehow wrong. But in fact, sex is just part of everyday life and optimal health. It is something that we need. It is something that we want. And increasingly, a healthy sex life has been shown to be an important part of all aspects of our lives. Here is why sex should be a regular part of your repertoire just like working out and eating healthy.
Table Of Contents:
- How Much Is Enough
- Why Americans Are Not Having Enough Sex
- The Health Benefits Of Sex
- Keeping Things Fresh
How Much Is Enough?:
If you are in a committed relationship, the amount of sex that is healthy really depends. Couples in their 20s and 30s tend to have sex twice per week and in their 40s and up it is more like once per week. But of course it varies and there is not necessarily any right answer. A study published in the journal Archives of Sexual Behavior found what constitutes enough sexual frequency has declined since the 1990s. Back then, the happiest couples had sex 63 times per year and now that number has dropped to 54 (about once per week). The study authors write “[t]he results suggest that Americans are having sex less frequently due to two primary factors: An increasing number of individuals without a steady or marital partner and a decline in sexual frequency among those with partners.”
The focus should not be on some number, rather it should be on making sure both you and your partner are enjoying the intimacy you need.
Why Americans Are Not Having Enough Sex:
There are a number of reasons why Americans are not having enough sex and many of them are rooted in instability and stress. Let’s take a closer look:
- Stress - Stress is hard on your relationship and it can make it more difficult to get in the mood. You are anxious, depressed, and feeling out of sorts which makes connecting with someone else hard. Stress can also squash your libido. If you want to amp up your sex life, you might need to take a look at what is stressing you out first.
- Smartphones - Fifty years ago you did not have so many distractions in the bedroom and smartphones are one of the worst. Whether you’re scrolling through social media or reading the news, your bedroom should be for sleep, and of course, sex. Leave your smartphone outside of the bedroom and avoid looking at it just before getting busy.
- Medical Issues - If you are having trouble with sexual drive because of hormones, chronic pain, or illness, it can be difficult to get between the sheets, but it is worth talking to your doctor and seeing if you can get to the bottom of the problem. Some women may experience vaginal dryness, which can make sex less pleasurable. Again, if this is you, talk to your doctor because many of these issues can be treated.
- Body Issues - A poor body image is one of the main reasons why Americans are afraid to get intimate. They are too embarrassed or they have a negative body image that makes striping down to their skivvies off limits. It is worth getting to the root of the problem to see why you can’t seem to love yourself before you try to love someone else. A poor body image often has nothing to do with your body at all.
As mentioned above, sex drive varies from person to person and some of us do not have a partner to have sex with. But if you are having sex, research shows, it is a good thing.
The Health Benefits Of Sex:
1. Strengthens Your Relationship -
Research has shown time and time again that couples who have sex together, stay together. If you are having a dry spell, that does not mean that you are headed for divorce, but livening up your sex life is something to shoot for. Couples that have sex on average once per week were found to be the happiest. Those that had sex less than that were more likely to feel disconnected, detached, and were more likely to cheat.
2. Lowers Your Blood Pressure -
Sex hormones are associated with a lowered risk of hypertension and cardiovascular problems as you age. That is why research has shown that premenopausal women have lowered instances of hypertension and cardiovascular disease compared to postmenopausal women. Having sex on a regular basis has been shown to lower your blood pressure. According to a study published in the journal Cardiovascular Research, “we provide a discussion of the potential blood pressure regulating effects of female and male sex hormones, as well as the cellular, biochemical, and molecular mechanisms by which sex hormones may modify the effects of hypertension on the cardiovascular system.”
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3. Improves Self Image -
Having sex, especially in a committed relationship, does wonders for your self esteem. As a matter of fact, those that report not having sex, often avoid it because of a poor body image. And you do not have to have the perfect body in order to enjoy that body image boost. According to Oregon Health and Science University, "studies have shown that sex is extremely beneficial to our health. Sex activates a variety of neurotransmitters that impact not only our brains but several other organs in our bodies.” Sex also releases oxytocin which makes you feel loved and connected to your partner. The bottom line is that a healthy sex life can help improve your overall self esteem.
Read More: How To Boost Sexual Performance Naturally
4. Reduces Depression -
A vibrant sex life has also been shown to improve mood and reduce instances of depression. This is because sex releases all sorts of feel good chemicals like oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin. Oxytocin helps you feel more connected to your partner. Serotonin and dopamine are the hormones that make us feel attracted to someone else. A study published in the International Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health found that “higher levels of sexual satisfaction were associated with lower levels of depression in young adults. These associations were stronger for those in a current relationship.” And the opposite may also be true. In fact, some research has also shown that low libido could be a sign of depression. According to Johns Hopkins Medicine, “major depression is nearly twice as common in women as it is in men — as many as 21 percent of women will experience major depression at some point. And lack of libido can be a tipoff.”
5. Increases Libido -
It is a use it or lose it mentality here. The more sex you have, the better you are at it. And the more satisfaction that you get from it. As you age, this can mean less sexual dysfunction. Practice makes perfect. If your libido is not where you want it to be, talk to your doctor. Changing hormones at different life stages could be to blame, as could mental health issues like anxiety or depression. But sometimes having sex when you are tired and not necessarily in the mood, is the best idea because it gets and keeps things going. Experts contend that not having sex is a self fulfilling prophesy. That means that once you stop having sex, you will have it less and less. But the good news is that the opposite is also true. So get between the sheets and you will be glad you did.
6. Natural Pain Relief -
Having sex provides natural pain relief. That is right. It makes you feel better all the way around and if you are dealing with chronic pain, it can help relieve that too. According to the Mayo Clinic, “[I]ntimacy can actually make you feel better. The body's natural painkillers, called endorphins, are released during touch and sex. And the closeness you feel during lovemaking can help you feel stronger and better able to cope with your chronic pain.” If your pain medications make intimacy difficult, it is also worth talking to your doctor to see if another medication could work or if the timing of taking a medication could make the situation better.
7. Better Sleep -
Sex has been shown to improve your sleep. In fact, having sex before bedtime is the best medicine for getting to and staying asleep longer. A study out of the University of Ottawa found that sex can reduce your chances of being an insomniac. According to researchers, “engaging in sexual intercourse prior to sleep can decrease stress, and can assist female insomniacs by helping to initiate and maintain sleep. These secondary factors make sexual intercourse a possible alternative or addition to other intervention strategies for insomnia. There is an urgent need to address this health disorder due to its widespread prevalence in society.” Women have also been shown to have increases in estrogen after sex, which has been shown to improve sleep quality. So if sleep has been escaping you lately, it might be worth bumping and grinding, if you know what I mean. In reverse, a lack of sleep can reduce the hormones necessary to boost your libido.
8. Better Immune Health -
Sex has also been shown to improve your immune health. That is right—getting busy keeps you healthy. A study published in the journal Psychological Reports followed a group of college students who reported the frequency of their sexual encounters, and salivary samples were taken to test for immunoglobulin A (IgA). According to researchers, “individuals in the frequent group showed significantly higher levels of IgA than the other three groups, which were comparable.” Immunoglobulin A is an antibody protein that’s a part of the body’s immune system.
Read More: 5 Supplements To Reduce Cortisol
Keeping Things Fresh:
So now that you know that sex is good for your health, here is how you can have more of it. These tips will help light your fire once again:
- Touch - Touch is an entrance to sex. Other forms of intimacy can help you revive your sex life. Hold hands more often. Kiss and hug. Enjoy all forms of four play before you get busy.
- Go Out On A Limb - Initiate sex in a different way than you normally do. Try something different than usual. Surprise your partner on a night when you would not normally have sex. Do it in a place you would not normally do it.
- Do Not Go Right For It - It is OK to let the tension build once in a while. Do not go for intercourse as quickly as you normally would.
- Show Some Emotion - Being a little vulnerable can go a long way into helping deepen the intimacy with your partner.
- Discuss Expectations - This seems so boring but it matters. Partners often have totally different expectations when it comes to what they want sexually out of a partner. Take some time to talk about what you like and don’t like so that your partner knows what you want.
- Take A Couples Sex Class - Yes, you can do this. If you want to liven’ things up a bit, consider taking a sex class to explore and learn about funky and fantastic ways of getting intimate.
- Get Away - This is especially true of parents who just cannot seem to slip away long enough to get their fill. Leave the kids at grandma’s and head out for the weekend with your partner. It is an ideal way to remember why you love each other and why you were attracted to each other in the first place.