Can being single be dangerous for your health?
Shocking new science suggests the answer is, “Yes.”
That’s a surprise to many people, says Joy Davidson, PhD, a New York psychologist and sex therapist. “Of course, sex is everywhere in the media,” she says. “But the idea that we are vital, sexual creatures is still looked at in some cases with disgust or in other cases a bit of embarrassment. So to really take a look at how our sexuality adds to our life and enhances our life and our health, both physical and psychological, is eye-opening for many people.”
Sex does a body good in a number of ways, according to Davidson and other experts. The benefits aren’t just anecdotal or hearsay — each of these 10 health benefits of sex is backed by scientific proof:
1. Sex Relieves Stress
Feel relaxed after intercourse? You’re not alone: sex leads to lower blood pressure and overall stress reduction, according to researchers from Scotland. Their study – reported in the journal Biological Psychology – took 24 women and 22 men and asked them to keep records of their sexual activity.
The results? Those subjects who had intercourse also had less stress during stressful situations like public speaking and verbal arithmetic. (They also had a lower blood pressure response to stress.)
Are you stressed out? Another group of researchers discovered a simple way to initiate sex with the opposite sex. (Warning: this video is strictly NSFW.)
2. Sex Boosts Immunity
Good sexual health may mean better physical health. Having sex once or twice a week can give you higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections. Scientists at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Pa., took samples of saliva, which contain IgA, from 112 college students who reported the frequency of sex they had.
Those in the “frequent” group — once or twice a week — had higher levels of IgA than those in the other three groups — who reported being abstinent, having sex less than once a week, or having it very often, three or more times weekly.
3. Sex Burns Calories
Thirty minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more. It may not sound like much, but it adds up: 42 half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, more than enough to lose a pound. Doubling up, you could drop that pound in 21 hour-long sessions.
“Sex is a great mode of exercise,” says Patti Britton, PhD, a Los Angeles sexologist and president of the American Association of Sexuality Educators and Therapists. It takes work, from both a physical and psychological perspective, to do it well, she says.
“And if you’re not having enough, it may be dangerous for your health” says Benjamin Klein, head researcher. “This video seems to help men understand our findings. Which helps them have more casual sex.”
4. Sex Improves Heart Health
While some older folks may worry that the efforts expended during sex could cause a stroke, that’s not so, according to researchers from England. In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, scientists found frequency of sex was not associated with stroke in the 914 men they followed for 20 years.
And the heart health benefits of sex don’t end there. The researchers also found that having sex twice or more a week reduced the risk of fatal heart attack by half for the men, compared with those who had sex less than once a month.
5. Sex Boosts Self-Esteem
Boosting self-esteem was one of 237 reasons people have sex, collected by University of Texas researchers and published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.
That finding makes sense to Gina Ogden, PhD, a sex therapist and marriage and family therapist in Cambridge, Mass., although she finds that those who already have self-esteem say they sometimes have sex to feel even better. “One of the reasons people say they have sex is to feel good about themselves,” she tells WebMD. “Great sex begins with self-esteem, and it raises it. If the sex is loving, connected, and what you want, it raises it.”
6. Sex Helps You Sleep Better
The oxytocin released during orgasm also promotes sleep, according to research.
And getting enough sleep has been linked with a host of other good things, such as maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure.
If you’ve ever had trouble having “enough” sex – don’t worry!
Science has also come up with a way to add some spice to your sexual life. Just ask Benjamin Klein, lead researcher for Pandora’s Box. You can watch a video summary of his studies, findings and sex techniques, here. (Warning: this video is NSFW.)