Why sex is good for you
Excerpt from article by Sophie Scott
18th Apr 2011
We all know sex can make you feel physically good, but there is growing evidence that it can also make you healthier and help you live longer, reports Sophie Scott. When it comes to living longer, having a good sex life isn’t something that immediately springs to mind. But even the thought of
sex can be healthy, raising your heart rate slightly and releasing a range of positive hormones into your body.
Researchers from Queen’s University Belfast tracked the death rates of 1000 middle-aged men over 10 years and found that those men who had the most orgasms had HALF the death rate of those who were less sexually active.
A follow-on study revealed that having sex three or more times a week reduced men’s risks of heart attack and stroke by half. Australian sexologist Dr Gabrielle Morrisey confirms regular sex is good for the heart, circulation and immune system, backing up Queen’s University’s findings and others by Wilkes University, Pennsylvania. It discovered that people having sex once or twice a week had one-third higher levels of a substance called immunoglobulin A, which is well known to boost immunity.
But wait, there’s more!
Sex is also good for your general wellbeing, is a mild antidepressant, can ease anxiety – and has a big impact on the prostate. A study of almost 30,000 men by the US-based National Cancer Institute found the more men had sex, the less likely they were to develop prostate cancer. And there is good evidence that having more sex can prevent erectile dysfunction (ED) in older men. A study of a thousand Finnish men found those who had sex three times or more each week only had a
quarter of the risk of developing ED. Of course, the benefits of a good sex life are not just physical. Touch makes us feel good and makes us feel loved. Touch creates emotional intimacy and increases self-esteem. Anne Hollonds from Relationships Australia says sexual intimacy is one thing that separates the relationship with your partner from the other relationships in your life. Sexual intimacy makes it different and special, and enables you to have a deeper level of emotional intimacy with your partner,
Better or worse?
There’s no doubt, however, that sex changes significantly as you age – although Gabrielle Morrisey points out, sex changes throughout our lives, as libido fluctuates. For many older people, sex gets better. But for others, problems can emerge. If you
have a partner, it’s important to accept that your libido may differ from theirs and the idea is to find a middle ground
with which you are both happy. When it comes to a reduced libido, Dr Sue Reddish from the Jean Hailes Foundation says it’s important to rule out a number of causes. You need to look at relationship problems, health problems such as diabetes, thyroid
disease, alcohol abuse and chronic pain, medications such as antidepressants, mood disorders and past experiences and expectations of sex, she says.
The physical and emotional intimacy that comes from a good sex life is crucial to happiness and wellbeing. So if things are not as good in the bedroom as you would like, take action. Start by ruling out any underlying medical causes and, if that gets the all clear, think about whether you might benefit from some therapy to uncover the source of the problems.
Sex therapists say many people make the mistake of thinking keeping passion alive is easy. Often sexual problems are the result of resentment in relationships, so focus on eliminating negative feelings that can turn relationship problems into sexual problems. Keeping in touch with your sexual self, no matter what your age, is crucial. As the research shows, the benefits to your health and longevity from maintaining a loving, fun sex life are clear.
ABC medical reporter Sophie Scott (ABC News)