The Health Benefits of Sex

by Dr. Maurice Leibman on May 23, 2011

The Health Benefits of Sex

Scientists have long known about some of the health benefits of sex, but recent studies are bringing even more surprising advantages to light. Sex can help relieve stress, reduce pain, ease depression, boost the immune system, and even lower the risk of certain types of cancer. Sex triggers the release of endorphins – the body’s natural painkillers – which can provide temporary relief from back pain, migraines, and other body aches. Sex also releases a hormone called oxytocin, which promotes bonding and reduces fear.

Some benefits of sex are obvious even without scientific evidence: “There’s a relaxation response and a satiation response…you lie there and life is great,” says Dr. Irwin Goldstein, director of sexual medicene at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, in an interview for the Wall Street Journal’s Health Journal.

That’s great…but what if you aren’t having enough sex?

More isn’t necessarily better. The quality of your sex life is also important for overall health and satisfaction. “What we’ve learned from all our research is that what’s important is the satisfaction and the meaning we attach to sex,” said Erick Janssen, a senior scientist at the Kinsey Institute at Indiana University.

If you aren’t having sex as frequently as you used to or as frequently as you would like to – whether that’s due to a loss in interest in sex, a busy schedule, stress, or other factors – don’t be discouraged.

Female Orgasm

  • Humans are one of the few species in which the female experiences some form of orgasm. Although scientists are certain why the female orgasm occurs.
  • Studies show that between 53 and 63 percent of women reach orgasm all or most of the time, although not necessarily through intercourse.
  • The majority of women (approximately 90 percent) are able to experience orgasm by some method at some point in their lives.
  • After menopause, a decrease in estrogen can affect your ability to orgasm.
  • Talk to your health care professional about options that could improve vaginal lubrication, blood flow, and sensation.

Here are some facts you may want to know:

  • Painful sex can be the result of various medical conditions that affect the skin around the vagina or the muscles in the vagina, such as lack of estrogens, lichen, herpes.
  • Pain can occur in the genital area or deeper inside the pelvis from endometroisis or scar tissue.
  • It may be sharp, burning, or similar to menstrual cramps.
  • Some sexual problems can be treated with topical anesthetics, estrogen cream, antidepressants, or physical therapy (biofeedback)
  • Many women do not talk to their health care providers about sexual pain or problems.
  • According to a survey conducted by the Women’s Sexual Health Foundation, less than 9 percent of women said their health care providers had ever asked them about sexual problems.
  • If your doctor doesn’t ask, don’t be afraid to speak up about your sexual problems. If not now, then when?!
  • What you are experiencing may be very common and easily treatable, but it won’t get addressed if you don’t talk about it.

Tips for better sex

  • According to familydoctor.org, up to 70 percent of couples have problems with sex at some point in their relationships.
  • It’s normal to go through periods where you are less interested in sex or sex doesn’t feel as good.
  • Talk to your partner
  • Schedule a time to talk where you won’t be distracted or interrupted.
  • Sex is an important part of a committed relationship, so it’s important to address your concerns with your partner – or your gynecologist.
  • Schedule sex so it doesn’t get pushed to the bottom of the list.
  • Try introducing some new props, like a vibrator or flavored lubricant, into your routine.
  • Change your environment. Schedule a long weekend or just a night at a nearby hotel to get a break from the stress of your daily lives and make some time to focus on your partner and refresh your passion.
  • Read. Studies show that erotic literature can benefit women with low sexual desire.
  • If your sexual problems continue, consider seeking professional help from a marraige counselor, sex therapist, or your gynecologist

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