Unadulterated, consensual, fabulous sex is often a taboo topic. Many people don’t realize that in addition to being fun, sex has heaps of health benefits—30 to be exact!
If your sex life is lacking, the following information may just inspire you to find more time to canoodle. From pain relief and decreased stress to improved sleep and brainpower, read on to learn how an active sex life can make you a happier, healthier person.
Note: This article is for informational and educational purposes only, and is not intended to serve as a substitute for individual medical or mental health advice.
- Sex Can Make You Live Longer
Research shows that people who have more sex tend to live longer lives. This could be due to several factors:
- People who have frequent sex are often in committed relationships. Experts believe that folks who maintain close relationships live happier, healthier, longer lives.
- People who have sex are physically active. Sex itself is a cardiovascular workout, and physical activity is one of the key elements of optimal overall health.
- Sex is a stress-management technique. Sexual activity allows us to relax and unwind from our otherwise hectic lives. Individuals who don’t have effective coping mechanisms—like sex—are more likely to experience health complications and even early mortality.
- Sex Makes You Smarter
Individuals who have regular sex may experience a boost in brainpower. According to a 2014 study by University of Maryland researchers, sex may lead to the production of new neurons in the brain and improved cognitive function.
The best part? Sex can actually ward off memory loss and dementia!
- Sex Relieves Stress
Stress is unavoidable. We experience it on a daily basis, and it can wreak havoc in every area of our lives, including our intimate relationships.
It probably comes as no surprise that regular sex reduces stress due to decreased cortisol—the body’s stress hormone—during sexual activity.
Sex can also lead to improved relationships and make us better equipped to deal with daily stressors.
- Sex Can Alleviate Anxiety and Depression Symptoms
During sex, our bodies produce endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin, which have mood-boosting properties. Being intimate with your partner won’t cure mental health problems, but the production of feel-good chemicals may bring temporary relief.
Keep in mind that people suffering with depression and other mental health issues may experience decreased sex drive and/or sexual dysfunction. Some antidepressant medications can exacerbate these problems. Talk to your healthcare provider about any questions or concerns you have regarding sex, mental health conditions, and medication.
- Sex Can Make Your Relationship Stronger
If you’re struggling to connect with your partner, regular sex may help. Good sex requires open and honest communication, which can extend beyond the bedroom.
Many sexually active couples engage in post-sex pillow talk, which can lead to increased intimacy. This is true for folks in new relationships, as well as longtime couples.
- Morning Sex Can Make You Feel Better All Day
Start your morning off with sex, and you’ll likely have an amazing day! Estrogen and testosterone peak in the a.m., and men tend to last longer first thing in the morning. You’ll start your day with an endorphin rush and feel closer to your partner.
Morning sex may require extra foreplay, especially if you wake up feeling groggy. There are also a wide range of sex toys available that can help to enhance the experience and pleasure!
- Sex Can Boost Your Self-Esteem
Studies show that women who have frequent, satisfying casual sex are happier and have higher self-esteem than women who don’t engage in sexual activity. Perhaps the most encouraging news of all is that women with higher self-esteem experience more pleasure during sex; plus, they have more orgasms.
- Sex Makes You Happier
Good, frequent sex doesn’t just ward off depression; it can actually make people happier. A 2015 study found that an increase in enjoyable sex increases happiness, while unwanted sex lowers happiness.
Researchers also found that individuals with one sexual partner are happiest.
- Sex is a Pain Reliever
If you suffer from aches and pains, an orgasm may provide temporary relief. From headaches to morning sickness and PMS cramps, a romp in the hay often works better than pain relieving medications.
Medical Daily describes orgasms as “the miracle cure.” The same chemicals that bring us pleasure also relieve pain, according to the publication.
- Sex Improves Your Level of Fitness
A sweaty sex session can burn some serious calories and improve overall physical fitness. If you’ve been meaning to hit the gym, now is a great time to start a regular workout regimen. Studies show that frequent exercise leads to enhanced sexual performance.
If you’re keen on counting sex as a cardio workout, you may have to increase the duration. Sex itself lasts an average of 3 to 13 minutes, but adding more foreplay and engaging your pelvic floor muscles during sex can prolong the act and give you a better workout.
- Sex Tones Muscles
Lots of sexual positions help tone muscles, and sex is a lot more fun than pumping iron at the gym. Try different positions to tone your core, buttocks, thighs, calves, and upper body. Sex swings are perfect for adventurous sex that can improve fitness whilst pushing bodies and orgasms to new limits!
As an added bonus, the release of testosterone during sex helps build and maintain lean muscle.
- Sex Decreases Your Risk of Heart Disease
There’s encouraging news for men who engage in regular sexual activity. Multiple studies link sex to a decreased risk of heart disease. Men who have sexual encounters two or more times each week are less likely to develop cardiovascular disease than men who engage in sex once per month or less.
Men experiencing erectile dysfunction or other sexual problems should consult a physician, as the risk of heart disease increases 45% for men who rarely engage in sex.
- Sex Can Lower Your Blood Pressure
High blood pressure has been linked to everything from heart attacks and strokes to kidney problems and eye disease. Along with eating a balanced diet, moving more, lifting weights, meditating, and limiting alcohol consumption, sex can play a part in lowering blood pressure.
When women orgasm, they release oxytocin, which is linked to decreased blood pressure. Not in the mood for a romp? Frequent hugs with your partner has been shown to have similar effects.
- Sex Reduces the Risk of Colds
Prone to colds? Sexual activity could actually protect you from the pesky common cold by boosting your immune system. Human saliva contains immunoglobulin A (IgA for short), which is one of the key antibodies that helps us fight off illness.
As it turns out, folks who have sex just once or twice each week have 30% more IgA in their systems than people who have sex less or more often. If you’re wondering how much sex you should be having, 1-2 weekly sex sessions seems to be the sweet spot. More on that later…
- Sex May Improve Your Sense of Smell
Following sex, our brains release a hormone called prolactin, which can lead to increased production of nerve cells in the area of the brain responsible for sense of smell.
Since taste and smell are so closely related, it’s possible that sex could lead to a heightened sense of smell, which could result in an improved sense of taste!
- Sex is a Cure for Hiccups
Hiccups are caused by contractions in the diaphragm, and let’s face it, they’re downright annoying. While an orgasm may be a cure for hiccups, getting in the mood may be tricky in between spasms.
- Sex Can Make You Look Younger
The fountain of youth may be a myth, but sex can make you look more youthful—by up to 7 years! The human growth hormone released during sex may improve skin’s elasticity, which can make you look several years younger.
A decade-long study suggests that people who maintain their youthful appearance have sex approximately 3 times per week. It’s important to note that not just any sex session will do… The key to looking young is feeling pleasure during physical intimacy.
- Sex Makes You More Attractive
A 2016 study found that couples who engaged in frequent sex viewed their partners in a more positive light. As previously mentioned, sex also reduces stress and promotes sleep, which could make you look and feel more attractive.
Confidence and self-esteem may also be a factor, as when we feel good about ourselves, we tend to shine from the inside out.
- Sex Will Make You Glow
The key to radiant skin may be an active sex life. Sexual activity promotes skin renewal and increases oxygen levels and blood flow, resulting in radiant-looking skin.
Aerobic exercise can also make your skin glow.
- Sex Can Smooth Wrinkles
As we age, our bodies produce less estrogen, which can lead to thinning, sagging skin and wrinkles. Estrogen produced during sex wards off these frustrating signs of ageing by plumping the skin and smoothing lines and wrinkles.
Research shows that menopausal women who engage in sexual activity just once per week have significantly higher levels of estrogen than women who abstain from sex altogether.
- Sex Strengthens Bones
As mentioned above, estrogen levels decline as we age. This results in thinning bones, which can lead to osteoporosis. Sex is an excellent way to boost estrogen levels and keep bones strong.
Although men develop osteoporosis less often than women due to greater bone mass, men can in fact develop the condition. Testosterone levels decrease during and after sexual activity, warding off osteoporosis in men.
- Sex May Regulate Your Periods
Lots of factors can affect periods, including changes in weight, stress, chronic diseases, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS). Healthline reports that regular sex leads to decreased stress, promoting balanced hormones.
- Frequent Sex Makes Women More Fertile
Studies suggest that women who engage in frequent sex have an increased chance of conception. In fact, even having sex outside her monthly ovulation window could help a woman conceive.
The luteal phase of the menstrual cycle follows the ovulation phase. During this time, the uterus’ lining thickens to help support a potential pregnancy. There are two types of helper T cells that help sustain a pregnancy. Research shows that sexually active women have elevated levels of these cells as opposed to sexually abstinent women, whose levels remain the same.
- Sex Can Alleviate PMS Symptoms
If you experience symptoms related to premenstrual syndrome (PMS), sexual activity could make this stage of your cycle more manageable. Sex actually changes hormone levels in women, resulting in less pronounced PMS symptoms.
- Sex May Shorten the Duration of Your Period
Having an orgasm could shorten your period, according to healthline.com. During climax, menstrual blood flows away from the uterus as the uterine muscles contract. This speeds up the menstruation process.
- Sex Keeps the Vagina in Tip-Top Shape
An active sex life keeps the vagina in shape in some weird and wonderful ways. Not only does sexual activity keep the vagina lubricated; it also increases blood flow and reduces menopause symptoms.
It’s not just intercourse that keeps the vagina in shape as we age… Any form of sexual activity, including masturbation, has similar benefits.
- Sex Improves Women’s Bladder Control
Urinary incontinence isn’t a normal part of ageing, so why do so many women experience this embarrassing problem? According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, urinary incontinence is often caused by problems associated with the muscles and nerves of the bladder. Other factors include pregnancy, childbirth, menopause, and excess weight.
Thankfully, regular orgasms can help ward off incontinence. When a woman has an orgasm, the muscles of the pelvic floor are being strengthened and toned. You can also do Kegel exercises for similar results.
- Frequent Sex Could Improve Sperm Vitality
Many people believe that “saving up” sperm increases the odds of getting a woman pregnant. In reality, abstinence may increase sperm count, but daily ejaculation boosts sperm vitality.
If you and your partner are having trouble conceiving, abstinence could be the culprit. Studies show that frequent ejaculation could greatly improve the chances of conception. Experts believe men should ejaculate an average of 3 to 4 times per week to produce the optimal amount of sperm.
- Sex May Protect Men from Prostate Cancer
Regular ejaculation could ward off prostate cancer in men. A study of 32,000 men over an 18-year period found that men who ejaculated at least 21 times each month had a 20% lower chance of developing prostate cancer than men who ejaculated only 4 to 7 times per month.
The ages of the study participants varied, suggesting that ejaculation may ward off prostate cancer regardless of a man’s age. Some experts believe that men who ejaculate flush toxins from the body.
Although there is a strong correlation between ejaculation and prostate health, there is no evidence that it protects men from advanced prostate cancer.
- Sex Leads to More Sex
It’s quite possibly the most enjoyable cycle you’ll ever experience. Good sex often leads to more good sex. Aside from the pleasure you and your partner experience from the act itself, you’ll likely start noticing the physical and mental benefits, and you’ll undoubtedly want more sex!
How Much Sex Are People Having?
Due to inconsistencies in various studies, it’s largely unclear how often couples engage in sexual activity. One study of more than 20,000 couples found that a mere 26% of sexually active duos are having sex once per week. The majority of study participants reported sexual encounters just once or twice each month.
Other studies have found that couples are having sex anywhere from once or twice weekly to a couple of times per month.
A 2013 global sex study found that 80% of men and 61% of women described their sex life as “pretty good.” A large percentage of study participants reported that stress is a major turnoff.
How Much Sex Should You Be Having?
A menagerie of factors come into play when it comes to intimacy. It’s important not to compare your sex life to other people’s, as there truly is no such thing as “normal.”
As far as statistics, the happiest couples seem to be having sex about once per week, according to a 2017 study. Couples who had sex more frequently weren’t any happier, and pairs who engaged in sexual activity less than once per week felt less satisfied.
As humans, we need closeness and connection, and sex is an excellent way to feel close and connect with our partners. While physical intimacy certainly includes sex, cuddling, touch, oral stimulation, and open communication about needs and desires can strengthen a couple’s bond.
What Keeps Us From Having Sex?
Lots of folks would love to engage in sex more often, but sometimes life gets in the way. Below are 5 common reasons people aren’t having sex, along with tips on overcoming these barriers:
We often don’t realize the role stress plays in our lives. It can cause irritability, overwhelm, and depression, not to mention spiked cortisol levels, stomach problems, and headaches.
Deep breathing exercises, meditation, adequate sleep, a balance diet, and physical activity can help reduce stress. Prioritizing downtime and time with your partner will also help you stress less.
- Lack of Connection
If you’re having trouble connecting with your partner, it’s time to reevaluate your interactions with each other. When is the last time you went on a date or a vacation sans kids?
Reconnecting doesn’t have to involve over-the-top gestures or weekend getaways (though those things are great, too!). Weekly date nights or occasional love letters go a long way toward rekindling romance.
- Low Self-Esteem
Poor body image can have a major impact on your sex life. If you don’t feel good in your own skin, it’s difficult to feel desirable.
Making an effort to be more positive about your appearance could help you feel more confident in the bedroom. Challenging negative self-talk related to your body will help you shift your mindset and see yourself in a more positive light.
Engaging in a physical activity you enjoy will allow your body to release feel-good hormones that lead to increased confidence.
- Health Problems
If you or your partner have a chronic medical condition, your sex life may be suffering. Medications can also affect libido and sexual satisfaction.
Jot down all of your concerns related to your health and intimacy, and make an appointment with your healthcare provider to discuss your options. You deserve to have an active, enjoyable sex life.
- Digital Devices
If you’re glued to your phone or computer, it’s virtually impossible to connect with your partner. Digital devices are distracting and put a major damper on physical intimacy.
Try leaving your phone in another room, and make a pact to leave all digital devices out of the bedroom. The chances of connecting with your partner are much higher if you disconnect from the outside world.
5 Tips for a Better Sex Life
The following tried-and-true tips will help take your sex life to the next level:
- Consider Each Other’s Needs and Desires
Keep the lines of communication open when it comes to your sexual needs and wishes. If you’d like to spice things up by trying a new position, talk about it beforehand. It’s also helpful to communicate post-sex about your experience. Encourage your partner to open up about his or her sexual desires. A big part of sexual satisfaction is communication.
- Utilize Educational Resources
There are countless self-help books and other helpful resources devoted to helping people navigate the intricacies of sex. If you and your partner are having a specific problem, search online or visit your local bookstore for resources covering the topic.
- Make Time to Kiss and Cuddle
Physical connection is important in any relationship. You can strengthen this connection by kissing and snuggling on a regular basis. This won’t just strengthen the physical bond between you; it will help you connect emotionally, too.
- Relax Before Sex
It can be difficult to transition from a stressful workday to an enjoyable romp in the hay. Before physical intimacy, try engaging in a relaxing activity. Deep breathing, meditation, and yoga can be helpful, or a casual dinner for two may do the trick. To increase intimacy, try engaging in a relaxing pre-sex activity together.
- Try New Positions
Tweaking your routine will help spice things up in bed. If your sex life has become habitual and/or boring, add excitement by trying new positions from time to time—or all the time! To reap the 30 health benefits of sex mentioned above, you have to enjoy the experience.