The benefits of s£x go hand-in-hand with a healthy s£x life.
S£x can improve your mental health by reducing stress, boosting mood, and increasing libido.
S£x also burns calories, improves sleep, and can help relieve pain.
To have a healthy s£x life, understanding and communicating your needs and desires is key.
It doesn’t matter how often you have s£x or whether it’s solo or with a partner. Just remember that leading a healthy sex life is all about what makes you feel fulfilled.
“Most of what we focus on is that sexual health and intimacy is based on consent, honesty, and mutual pleasure,” says Barb Depree, MD, a gynecologist and founder of MiddlesexMD. “If they’re feeling respected and fulfilled it’s going to be healthy for them.”
While what constitutes s£x is an open-ended question that’s highly individualized to the person, s£xual activity, especially in a loving relationship, can offer many surprising benefits, ranging from the physical to the psychological.
Mental Health Benefits Of S£x
S£x can help reduce feelings of stress or anxiety and also boost your mood, self-confidence, and libido.
1. Reduces stress and anxiety
S£xual arousal has been shown to decrease levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which may explain why s£x can feel relaxing or calming.
Lower levels of cortisol can also reduce feelings of stress and anxiety over time. “We know that people who engage in s£x generally have less anxiety and stress,” Depree says.
2. Boosts mood and self-confidence
Another reason s£x may improve your overall mood is that it releases endorphins, the neurotransmitters associated with increased feelings of pleasure, motivation, and energy.
This surge of endorphins can also improve your self-esteem and help you feel more confident in your everyday life.
Case in point: in a large 2019 study, older adults who were s£xually active reported having a greater enjoyment of life and a better overall well-being.
3. Increases libido
S£xual intimacy and satisfaction increases your oxytocin (“the love hormone”) levels, which are responsible for the feelings of trust, empathy, and desire for your partner.
Since oxytocin influences physical and emotional connection, it is crucial in building intimate relationships. When you feel more connected to your partner, your s£x drive — aka your libido — may also increase.
4. Improves cognitive health
S£x has a number of health benefits for your brain — and may even help your memory.
In animalstudies, researchers found that s£x helped the brain form new neurons in the hippocampus, which is the brain region responsible for learning and memory. In humans, researchers have seen a correlation between having more sex and having better recall:
A large 2019 study found that s£xually active men were better at both delayed and immediate recall.
In a small 2017 study of female college students, researchers found that women who had more frequent s£x had better recall of abstract words, but not images.
Having more s£x may also help strengthen your memory muscle as you age.
A small 2017 study of older adults found a connection between more frequent sexual activity and higher scores in tests focusing on working memory and executive function in older adults. Executive function encompasses skills like self-control, planning, and problem solving.
Additionally, in a large 2018 study, older adults who had more frequent s£x and stronger emotional bonds with their partner performed better on episodic memory tasks.
Physical health benefits of s£x
S£x can help you burn calories, get better sleep, boost immunity, lower blood pressure, and relieve pain. It also has health benefits specific to gender, like reducing risk of prostate cancer in men and strengthening pelvic floor muscles in women.
5. Burns calories
S£x won’t replace your regular workout routine, but it does burn more calories than if you were just sitting on the couch.
However, you may burn more or fewer calories depending on the intensity and duration of your sexual escapades.
6. Boosts immune system
A small 2018 study found that women who were s£xually active had higher levels of the antibody called immunoglobulin A in their saliva compared to sexually abstinent women.
Deficiency of immunoglobulin A can increase your risk of certain respiratory illnesses like pneumonia and bronchitis as well as other infections of the sinuses, ears, and eyes.
Therefore, the study suggests a possible link between s£x and immune function, though the researchers note that more research is needed to be certain.
Additionally, some research has found that masturbation can boost immunity and improve overall health.
7. Improves sleep
Both men and women self-reported better sleep after an orgasm, whether they achieved that with a partner or through masturbation, according to a 2019 study.
“More specifically with orgasm for women, s£x, in general, helps release oxytocin, which directly impacts the brain to encourage relaxation — and it’s actually a little sedating,” says Depree.
Orgasm also boosts levels of prolactin — a hormone associated with feeling sleepy and relaxed — which means having s£x may make it easier for you to settle in for the night.
8. Lowers blood pressure and helps prevent heart disease
Depree says that having s£x can lower blood pressure in two ways:
Increases heart rate. S£x ramps up your heart rate, and over time, it can help the heart pump blood through the body more efficiently and lower blood pressure in the process.
S£x releases chemicals that lower stress and anxiety — both of which can help bring down your blood pressure.
High blood pressure can take a toll on your long-term health, leading to dangerous conditions like heart disease.
That’s why getting your blood pressure under control is one of the leading recommendations for preventing heart disease.