The Benefits of a Healthy Sex Life
- Sex has mental health benefits like reducing stress, boosting mood, and increasing libido.
- Sex also has physical health benefits like burning calories, boosting immunity, improving sleep, lowering blood pressure, and relieving pain.
- To have a healthy sex life, it’s important to communicate with your partner about how much sex is right for you and what makes you feel good.
Mental health benefits of sex
Sex can help reduce feelings of stress or anxiety and also boost your mood, self-confidence, and libido.
1. Reduces stress and anxiety
Sexual arousal has been shown to decrease levels of the stress hormone, cortisol, which may explain why sex 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 sex generally have less anxiety and stress,” Depree says.
2. Boosts mood and self-confidence
Another reason sex 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.
3. Increases libido
Sexual intimacy and satisfaction increases your oxytocin (“the love hormone”) levels, which are responsible for the feelings of trust, empathy, and desire for your partner.
Physical health benefits of sex
Sex 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.
4. Burns calories
Sex 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.
5. Boosts immune system
A small 2018 study found that women who were sexually 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 sex and immune function, though the researchers note that more research is needed to be certain.
6. 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, sex, 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 sex may make it easier for you to settle in for the night.
7. Lowers blood pressure and helps prevent heart disease
Depree says that having sex can lower blood pressure in two ways:
- Increases heart rate. Sex 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.
- Decreases stress. Sex 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.
8. Relieves pain
Sex releases endorphins, which some research indicates may help manage pain from menstruation and during childbirth. It may also help relieve chronic pain.
9. Strengthens pelvic floor muscles in women
Sex can strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which is an especially important health benefit for women.
That’s because strong pelvic floor muscles — located around the uterus and bladder — help with incontinence, bladder control, and vaginal pain. They may also contribute to UTI prevention.
10. Reduces the risk of prostate cancer in men
A 2010 review noted that men who had sex more often — specifically penile-vaginal intercourse — also had a lower risk of prostate cancer.
There may also be a link between more frequent ejaculations and a reduced risk of prostate cancer in men, however, more research is needed to determine which types of sex may actually lead to this benefit.