10 Amazing Ways Sex Can Increase Your LongevityNAD Lab UK
Serious quests to find the Fountain of Youth may have ended centuries ago, but that doesn’t mean many of us don’t care about living longer, healthier lives. We do, and the sooner we find out how to do that, the better!
Thankfully, according to science, there are ways that are easier and much more fun than wandering through jungles looking for magical water features—and by that, I mean we should have more sex.
Our sex drive is primarily there to ensure the continuation of humanity, but not all sex is procreative. It’s also an important expression of some of our deeper yearnings, of intimacy between two (or, ahem, more) people, and it’s one of the most entertaining and pleasurable ways of helping yourself and your partner live longer.
The Alvarado Hospital’s director of Sexual Medicine, Dr. Irwin Goldstein, agrees. Speaking to Healthline, Dr. Goldstein said that all the latest research on the subject leads to the conclusion that healthy sexual activity is, well, healthy, and not in a vague way either. Doctors and scientists have pinpointed various benefits, which we’ll explore below.
Sex Burns Off Calories
If you do it right (yes, this implies you may do it wrong too!), sex gets your heart beating and your blood flowing the way a bit of exercise would. It might not be the equivalent of running a marathon, but according to a study published by the University of Montreal in 2013, sex definitely burns off calories. This is a good thing, because staying fit and active is one of the keys to longevity.
The study revealed that men burned up 101 kcal (4.2 kcal/minute) during sex, while women expended 69.1 kcal (3.1 kcal/minute). This meant a mean intensity of 6.0 METS in men and 5.6 METS in women (a MET is a ratio of your working metabolic rate relative to your resting metabolic rate).
The study also found that, when compared to the measured expenditure, the perceived energy expenditure for men was 100 kcal, and for women was 76.2 kcal. Do that a few times a week and you’ve got some good cardio going right there!
Sex Can Heal Headaches And Relieve Pain
The words, “Not tonight—I have a headache,” or, “I had a long day at work,” have left countless people unsatisfied in more ways than one for goodness knows how long.
Thanks to the Journal of Headache & Pain, we now know that a headache (or other aches and pains) is a perfectly good reason to have sex. According to their studies, the body releases oxytocin, the pain-relieving hormone, during sex. These hormones help keep your body in good shape, promoting longevity.
Sex Calms The Nerves
When we’re stressed, our bodies release cortisol, which is the stress hormone. Generally speaking, its function is an important one that can help us get through stressful times. Too much of it, however, is not such a good thing.
Mayo Clinic explained that, when you’re exposed to stress, a region of your brain, the hypothalamus, triggers your adrenal glands to secrete adrenaline (the fight-or-flight hormone) and cortisol. Your heart rate, blood pressure, and energy supplies increase because of the adrenaline. Cortisol, however, increases your brain’s glucose usage, the amount of glucose in your blood, and it makes tissue-repairing substances more available.
Cortisol also suppresses your digestive and reproductive systems, and processes of growth, and it changes the way your immune system responds to threats. This isn’t a problem in ideal conditions, but if stressors are present in your life constantly or regularly, you’re exposed to too much cortisol. Too much of the stress hormone floating around your body leads to anxiety, depression, digestive issues, gaining weight, headaches, heart disease, impaired concentration, and sleep problems. Those problems can become stressors themselves, serving only to expand the vicious circle.
There are various ways you can deal with this, but sex is the most enjoyable. The pain-relieving hormone oxytocin mentioned in the point (2) above does more than relieve pain; it also counters the effects of cortisol. Clinical psychologist and former assistant clinical psychiatry professor at the University of California, San Francisco, Carol Rinkleib Ellison explained that oxytocin is calming, and it inspires feelings of love and tranquility—and those effects can support the process of falling asleep.
Sex Helps Fight Colds And Flu
You’ve heard the old saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away,” but if a study by Wilkes University is anything to go by, you could easily change that to “an orgasm a day.”
The study surveyed 112 college students and then divided them into four groups based on how often they had sex in a week—none, infrequent (less than once a week), frequent (once or twice per week), and very frequent (thrice or more per week).
According to researcher Carl Charnetski, the research team collected saliva samples and tested them for salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA). The group that had sex once or twice a week had the highest levels of IgA—and according to Rhonda Curran writing for the British Society for Immunology, IgA is your first defense against infection. It neutralizes viruses and bacterial toxins, and it prevents viruses and bacteria from adhering to epithelial cells.
Sex Reduces Heart Disease Risk
In the first point above, it’s mentioned that sex gets the old ticker ticking. More than that, however, sexual activity may also reduce the risk of heart attacks, heart disease, and strokes. This was among the findings of a huge study conducted by the New England Research Institute in 2010.
The study, which focused on men, examined whether aspects of sexual function other than erectile dysfunction could predict heart disease. According to Susan A. Hall, PhD, the study showed that having sex once a month or less was associated with an increased risk of heart disease.
The results of a 22-year-long study in Israel, published in 2019, revealed a similar link between sex and heart health. The study evaluated the association between sexual activity and mortality after the first heart attack in 1,120 patients aged 65 years or younger.
According to Shlomit Brandis Kepler, MHA, the study showed that regular sexual activity may improve patients’ chances of survival in the years following the heart attack.
Regular Sex Means Longer Telomeres
A small study of 129 mothers in committed relationships, published in medical journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, pointed to a link between regular sexual activity and telomere length. Telomeres protect DNA strands, and the longer they are, the less likely you are to die at a young age or to develop a degenerative disease.
According to lead researcher Tomás Cabeza de Baca of the University of California, San Francisco, the women who had sex at least once a week had significantly longer telomeres than those who had little to no sex.
Sex Is An Amazing Mood-Booster
It’s probably safe to say that most of those who have sex do it because it feels good physically, mentally, and emotionally.
According to Dr. Goldstein, those are all good reasons to continue having sex. He explained that a healthy sex life links together both satisfaction with your mental health and the ability for honest, intimate communication.
A 2020 study that looked at the benefits of sexual activity on psychological, relational, and sexual health during the COVID-19 pandemic found that participants who were sexually active during lockdown had better mental health. According to Daniele Mollaioli, PhD, Chair of Endocrinology and Medical Sexology, Department of Systems Medicine, University of Rome Tor Vergata, the sexually active participants had significantly lower anxiety and depression scores.
Sex Can Reduce Prostate Cancer Risks
Over 47,500 men get diagnosed with prostate cancer every year. It’s a scary statistic, but the good news is that sex can reduce the risk of developing that cancer. A 2003 Australian study and a 2004 National Cancer Institute study both found that men who ejaculate often are less likely to get prostate cancer.
According to the former study, the more often men ejaculate between the ages of 20 and 50, the lower the risk of that form of cancer. The latter study suggested that men can lower their prostate cancer risk by ejaculating at least five times a week.
The Australian research team was led by Cancer Council Victoria’s Dr. Graham Giles, who told the BBC that the exact reasons for the decreased cancer risk and ejaculation were unclear. However, the research suggested a couple of possibilities, one of which is that prostatic fluid, which is added to semen during ejaculation, may flush carcinogens such as 3-methylcholanthrene from the system. The other possibility was that ejaculation may stimulate the prostate gland to mature fully, which could help to protect it from carcinogens.
Sex Can Prevent Preeclampsia
Preeclampsia is a condition that most often affects pregnant women and new mothers. The condition, which leads to a rise in blood pressure and organ dysfunction, is most commonly diagnosed in women after 20 weeks of pregnancy. However, it can develop earlier and can even happen after birth.
Sex, especially oral sex and in the ingestion of her partner’s semen prior to conception, can help lower a woman’s chances of developing preeclampsia. This was the result of tests conducted by biologists in the Netherlands in 2000.
Sex Can Improve Bladder Control
Incontinence, or the loss of bladder control, is one of the reasons why some people are afraid of getting older. This can cause stress and anxiety, and even more so when symptoms occur, leading to a detrimental effect on our health.
According to the Illinois Department of Public Health, approximately 13 million Americans are incontinent. An incredible 85% of those people are women.
Incontinence is usually caused by the weakening of the Kegel muscles, which control the flow of urine. You can perform various exercises to strengthen your Kegel muscles, which can improve bladder (and bowel) control, prevent incontinence later in life, and improve sexual activity.
Writing for UChicago Medicine, Jamie Bartosch explained Kegels exercises improve the circulation of blood in vaginal and pelvic floor areas, and they can make the vagina tauter. In a column for Time Magazine, sexologist Dr Ruth Westheimer explained you can do exercises during sex as part of lovemaking. Basically, sex can help you improve bladder control.
There you have it—10 great, longevity-boosting reasons to have more sex (or at least to indulge in a bit more self-service).