The surprising health benefits of having more sex
Some good news and some bad news from the world of sex research today.
First, the good news: having sexual intercourse several times a week helps to prevent life-threatening heart disease. Research published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine, found that regular rolls in the hay help to prevent a build-up of the chemical homocysteine, which is linked to potentially deadly blood clots.
And the bad news? It only works for men. Researchers from the National Defence Medical Centre in Taiwan tracked more than 2,000 men and women, aged from 20 to 59. While the men who had sex at least twice a week had lower levels of homocysteine in their bloodstream compared to men who had sex less frequently, there was no significant variation detected in women.
The research promises to make the ‘I’ve got a headache’ line even more loaded in the future.
However, it’s not all give and no take for women – plenty of pre-existing research suggests that having more sex has surprising health benefits for both sexes.
Here are eight reasons why you can go home this evening and tell your other half that you should both get frisky, for the good of your own bodies.
1. It could help you sleep better
We’re all trying to get more of it – and now it turns out sex could be the answer. Yes, according to an expert in the field, getting busy between the sheets should help you sleep more soundly.
Dr Michele Lastella, a sleep researcher at Appleton Institute for Behavioural Science at Central Queensland University in Australia, spends his time looking into the way the body recovers. He told Australian news site SBS that his investigations into the link between sleep and sex show that the latter can help improve the former: “From our preliminary data it appears that over 60 per cent of people indicate that their sleep improves after sex that is with a partner and involves an orgasm.”
The only problem? As Dr Lastella delicately puts it, there can be an imbalance between the rate of orgasm among men and women in heterosexual relationships. “On average men take between seven – 14 minutes to reach orgasm by all methods of stimulation, but average two – three minutes after initiating intercourse. Women on the other hand take between 10 – 20 minutes to reach orgasm.”
2. It could make you look younger
In 2013, Dr David Weeks, former head of old age psychology at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, told a British Psychological Society conference that his research showed that men and women who have an active sex life look between five and seven years younger than their actual age.
“Sexual satisfaction is a major contributor to quality of life, ranking at least as high as spiritual or religious commitment,” Dr Weeks said.
3. It could prevent you having a heart attack
In 2010 scientists at the New England Research Institute in Massachusetts published the results of a 16-year study, the Massachusetts Male Ageing Study, which analysed over 1000 men. The study found that men who had sex at least twice a week were up to 45 per cent less likely to develop life-threatening heart conditions than men who have sex less than once a month. Researchers said the benefits of sex could be due to both the physical and emotional effects on the body.
4. It could boost your immune system
Researchers at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, found that people who have sex once or twice a week receive a boost to their immune system which could help ward off colds and flu. In the 1999 study, scientists measured levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), an antigen found in saliva, and found a 30pc increase in IgA levels in those who had regular sex. However, Clifford Lowell, an immunologist at the University of California, warned that: “Sexually active people may be exposed to many more infectious agents than sexually non-active people.”
5. It could improve your brain function
In March 2013 scientists at the University of Pavia, Italy published the results of research which suggested that people who have regular sex, especially those in new relationships, displayed an increase in cranial nerve growth, crucial to mental alertness. The findings were supported by a separate study of male rats by scientists at Princeton University. Researchers divided the rats into two groups – one of which had its sexual activity severely limited – and found that the rats which mated more often displayed increased nerve growth.
6. It could reduce your risk of prostate cancer
In 2014, researchers at the University of Montreal published the results of a study which found that men who had slept with more than 20 women lowered their risk of developing prostate cancer by almost a third, and were 19 per cent less likely to develop the most aggressive form of the disease.
The study looked at more than 3,200 men over a four year period. Those who had more sexual intercourse were found to be less likely to develop prostate cancer.
7. It could make you less stressed at work
In 2006 researchers at the University of Paisley, Scotland, found that individuals who had more sex were better at dealing with stress. The study examined 22 men and 24 women over a two week period and found that those who had regular sex exhibited less of an increase in blood pressure when placed in stressful situations such as public speaking.
8. It could provide you with a full body workout
According to recent research, sending a text uses 38 muscles, sprinting for a bus puts 99 into action, and having sex calls on 657 – that’s all the muscles in the human body.
Physiotherapist and muscle anatomy expert Mike Aunger said: “In the bedroom, every muscle matters. All your skeletal muscles are essential for movement, no matter how vigorous; all your autonomous (involuntary) smooth muscles play a ceaseless role in digestion, respiration, circulation and bodily function; and of course your cardiac muscles are integral for pumping blood into all the right places.”
The only caveat? You have to do it right. “Ideally it should last more than 30 minutes,” said Aunger. “45 minutes would probably be better.”