Yes, yes, YES! The health benefits of having sex could be a lifesaver.
Not only does sex keep you emotionally connected with your partner, but with feel-good chemicals oxytocin, dopamine and serotonin produced during foreplay and sex, it’s no wonder a new study by Lovehoney found it improves our mental health and happiness.
Here’s what other advantages making love can bring…
1) Ward off heart disease
Those endorphins do more than just make you feel good – they also help to prevent heart problems by naturally neutralising your stress hormones. Research in Israel found that women who had two orgasms per week were 30 per cent less likely to have heart disease, while scientists at Queen’s University, Belfast, discovered that sex three times a week could halve the chances of having a stroke or heart attack.
2) It’s better than the gym
And don’t underestimate the benefits being physical can have on your body. ‘Sex provides a good cardiovascular workout,’ says Dr Louise Newson, who has a private practice at Spire Parkway Hospital in Solihull. ‘Research has shown that 30 minutes of sexual activity could burn more calories than walking on a treadmill or doing 40 minutes of yoga.’
Plus, all that movement can help keep bones strong. American researchers found menopausal women who have sex every week have oestrogen levels twice as high as those who don’t. Oestrogen, which is depleted during the menopause, helps protect bones, and a lack of it can lead to osteoporosis.
3) Strengthen your pelvic floor
While bladder problems after child birth or during the menopause may put women off being intimate – it could be just the exercise you need, so it’s worth swapping those daily pelvic floor squeezes for something more exciting. ‘Regular sex is good for pelvic floor muscles, as it can strengthen them,’ says Dr Newson. ‘This is because, during intercourse, the pelvic floor muscles naturally contract and squeeze so it leads to improved strength.’
4) Boost your resilience
Forget putting off sex because you have a headache – it can help with that, too. ‘The area of the brain involved in pain reduction is highly activated during arousal and endorphins are released, which can soothe nerve impulses that cause migraines or joint pain,’ says Dr Newson.
While, at the same time, sex can also increase your immunity, so you won’t be prone to illness. A study in Pennsylvania found that people having sex more than once a week had 30 per centhigher levels of immunoglobulin A, which can boost your immune system against cold and flu.
5) It keeps your vagina healthy
Regular intercourse also maintains the walls of the vagina. ‘When a woman is aroused, the lining of the vagina produces secretions, which helps to provide moisture,’ explains Dr Newson. ‘As women approach the menopause, the vaginal walls become thinner, dryer and less elastic, which can make sex painful. Regular sex helps avoid this and so makes a longer and pleasurable sex life more likely.’
The advantages for vaginal health can also be enjoyed if you go solo without a partner. ‘Masturbation can help prevent infections in the cervix and urinary tract through the process of opening the cervix, which occurs during arousal,’ says Dr Newson. ‘This stretches the cervix and allows unwanted cervical fluids to be flushed out. It can also help you sleep, as tension-releasing hormones are released during orgasm.’