Health Benefits of Sex
Sex Tips Debby Herbenick

Safe sex is a great way to reduce stress, heighten your immune system and maintain a healthy relationship, but The Doctors explain even more reasons why doing the deed is good for your health.

Sexual stimulation strengthens pelvic floor muscles, which helps women prevent urinary incontinence and reduces the risk of breast cancer by lowering levels of bio-available estrogen. Sex also promotes optimal hormone levels in men, and a Harvard University study found that men who reported 20 ejaculations in an average month, had a 33 percent lower risk of prostate cancer.

Mayo Clinic researchers also have found that sex relieves pain. An orgasm releases a surge of endorphins strong enough to relieve a headache, ease arthritis and alleviate other chronic pain.

Top 5 Reasons to Have Sex Tonight:

5. Sex Boosts Immunity

Having sex helps to fight off infections and could help you heal faster.

“There’s a study that proved people who have sex one to two times a week actually have an increase in their immune function,” ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says. Sex can increase the number of antibodies your body produces that fight off the germs that make you sick.

4. Sex Prevents Sleepless Nights

During sex, endorphins -- the body's natural painkillers -- are released, which can help a person relax and sleep better.

3. Sex Promotes Weight Loss

Moderate sex, such as 60 minutes over the course of a week, can add up to 100 calories burned.

2. Sex Strengthens Bones and Muscles

“Sex really helps to strengthen the vaginal muscles,” OB-GYN Dr. Masterson Lisa says. The PC muscles stretch and contract during intercourse, which strengthens them. Stronger muscles provide increased sensation of orgasm. Performing kegel exercises, as well as electrical stimulation and vaginal weights can also assist in strengthening the PC muscles.

1. Sex Reduces Chronic Pain

Dr. Lisa explains, “The natural opiates in the brain, endorphins and even corticosteroids, can be released during sex to help relieve pain. So all the women at home: Headaches are not an excuse anymore!”

Sex therapist Dr. Ava Cadell adds, “Sex is the best prescription for good health.” She says that when suffering from chronic pain, arthritis, PMS and headaches, having sex can diminish the pain. “You have to have an orgasm, because when you have that orgasm, it releases the surge of five times more oxytocin, and then that releases the morphine-like endorphins that null and void the nerve endings that are creating the pain,” she explains.

Dr. Lisa explains that even if a woman doesn’t have an orgasm, there are other ways to achieve some of the same benefits of having sex. Simple touching and hugging stimulates oxytocin, which is beneficial to the body and mind.

Additional Benefits of Sex:

Increased Sense of Smell

“Having sex helps your sense of smell,” plastic surgeon Dr. Andrew Ordon says. “Having sexual intercourse stimulates the pituitary gland which forms prolactin, which stimulates the part of your brain involved with smell.”

Helps to Prevent Prostate Cancer
The prostate is a gland located between the bladder and the penis. It needs to be stimulated periodically to avoid becoming enlarged, because an oversized prostate can become cancerous.

Orgasms and Sinuses
During orgasm, the hypothalamus signals the adrenal glands to secrete epinephrine, or adrenaline. The epinephrine constricts blood vessels, including the vessels in your sinuses, which causes the sinuses to open.

"The next time you're having that big O," ER physician Dr. Travis Stork says, "you can go ahead and breathe through your nose, because your sinuses are clearing up. How great is that?"

An Orgasm a Day Keeps the Doctor Away?
Dr. Lisa cites a Duke University study that showed that having sex 200 times or more per year could increase your lifespan by six years. By engaging in intercourse more often, there is also a natural boost in self-esteem and self-confidence.

“When you’re happy about your sexual life and your sexual health, it helps ward off depression. It makes you feel good about yourself,” Dr. Lisa says.

Touch, romance and intimacy also contribute to longer life. “There are actually some studies that support an increase in IGA, which is an antibody [that fights infections],” Dr. Travis adds. “If you two are just cuddling on the couch, watching a movie, that counts too.

More on The Big "O".

No Sex = Health Risks?
Having regular, safe sex can relieve stress, boost immunity, burn calories, reduce pain and improve cardiovascular health. But can abstinence put your health at risk?

"It doesn't mean [you will have] health problems," Dr. Lisa says. "We talk so much about the health benefits of sex on the show ... but the good news is, you can get those benefits just from yourself, without a partner. Push your own buttons!"

More on sex safety.

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