Sex may improve certain aspects of the wellbeing and physical health of individuals, some research suggests. Many findings on the subject are now obsolete, however, and not all possible advantages are for all.
Besides procreation, which comes with sexual intercourse, scientific work has demonstrated other potential benefits. Such pluses include protecting certain people’s heart health, raising blood pressure, and improving immunity.
Sex can boost mood, relationships and mental health as well.
We look at the possible health benefits of sex in this article and highlight important research, concentrating on the physical rather than emotional aspects.
Helping heart health
Partnered sex seems to have a certain protective effect on cardiovascular health, especially in women.
A 2016 research, with a frequent partner, looked at the possible health benefits of sexual activity.
This study showed that sexually active women later on in life have a lower risk of heart events.
The study also concluded, however, that high rates of sexual activity could increase men’s risk for cardiovascular events. This finding contradicts most earlier research, and further studies are required to verify the risk.
Males and females suffering from heart attacks should ask a doctor how much sex is healthy for them. They should also be careful about the regularity and strength they have sex with, because this may impact the possible heart strain.
Reducing blood pressure
The same study carried out in 2016 also assessed blood pressure as one of the heart safety markers. The researchers found that older women who were happy with their sex lives were less likely to have high blood pressure.
The writers of the study didn’t find the same findings in older people, however.
High blood pressure can impair both libido and a man’s ability to attain and sustain an erection, according to the American Heart Association (AHA).
High blood pressure medicine can also reduce the libido and induce erectile dysfunction.
It may indicate a correlation between blood pressure and sexual health, although this does not prove a gain.
Many people with high blood pressure, or hypertension, have questions about safety when it comes to sex.
Although consulting with a doctor is always necessary, having sex is usually healthy for people with high blood pressure.
If medication with hypertension causes sexual problems, a person may speak to their doctor, who may be able to prescribe another drug or prescription to alleviate the adverse effects.
Boosting the immune system
Some early study showed that normal sex improved immune system efficacy.
Researchers found that individuals with regular sex, which they described as one to two times a week, had more immunoglobin A (IgA) than others in their body. IgA is a mucosal tissue-living antibody, such as the salivary glands, nose, and vaginal tissue.
However, it is important to note that this study occurred in 2004, and it has not been replicated by researchers since. A recent research may be showing different results.
A more recent research looked at a small sample of people to see if there were variations between those who were sexually involved in the immune system and those who are not.
The research investigated the ability of their immune system to kill various infectious pathogens at different stages of the menstrual cycle.
Although the findings indicate there may be some discrepancies between the groups, the authors say further work is needed before any conclusions are drawn.
Reducing prostate cancer risk
An early research, again from 2004, showed that high ejaculation frequency can lower the risk of prostate cancer.
The research surveyed nearly 30,000 males, analyzing how much they had ejaculated at different points in their lives.
They concluded that those who ejaculated more than 21 times a month had lower prostate cancer risk compared to men who ejaculated only 4-7 times a month.
In 2016, the researchers continued this analysis for an additional 10 years to continue their work on the risk of prostate cancer among the participants.
This monitoring validated the initial findings. The males who ejaculated most frequently had lower chance than those who ejaculated less frequently for prostate cancer.
Sex can act as a natural way of alleviating stress. A 2019 study looked at the impact cortisol levels had on intimacy with a partner. Cortisol is a steroid hormone circulating through the body in response to stress.
The researchers found that signs of affection, whether sexual or not, helped bring back normal range of cortisol levels in both males and females.
Gender activates the release of oxytocin, endorphins, and other “feel-good” hormones that can be responsible for the reduction of this stress effect.
The National Sleep Foundation believes that sleep has hormonal advantages for sexual activity.
Often responsible for causing sleepiness are the same hormones that reduce stress and anxiety. Sex leads to the whole body releasing of oxytocin, dopamine and endorphins.
Another hormone called prolactin begins to circulate after a person has an orgasm. Prolactin causes feelings of contentment and relaxation.
Although sex can be a pleasurable and potentially safe activity, it is important to note that unprotected sex can pose a risk to overall health.
People who have sex without birth control have a chance of sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and unplanned pregnancies. The use of a condom or other form of contraception may reduce the likelihood of these outcomes.
If a individual has multiple partners, they can reduce the risk by reducing the number of people they have sexual intercourse with.
A individual should speak to a health care provider if sex is uncomfortable or causes bleeding.
Is sex addiction a real disease and can too much sex cause it?
The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) finds insufficient scientific evidence to support the definition of sexual addiction as a mental health problem.
If you feel overwhelmed by sexual desires, thoughts or actions that feel out of control, your relationships are being affected, or some part of your life is being influenced negatively, then it is best to seek medical assistance. Janet Brito, PhD, LCSW, CST
Answers represent the opinions of our medical experts. All content is strictly informational and should not be considered medical advice.