AARP Eye Center
A quick romp in the hay doesn’t just feel good. It turns out that sex has advantages that go way beyond simple pleasure.
In fact, sexual activity with or without a partner is linked to some impressive, research-backed health benefits, says Kate Thomas, director of clinical services at The Johns Hopkins Sex and Gender Clinic. And, she noted, it’s not just for young people.
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“Sex can be hugely beneficial for people as they get older, not only for the reported medical health benefits but for our psychological and emotional health,” Thomas says. “It can strengthen our relationships, promote self-esteem and improve our sense of identity.”
Here are 10 other surprising health benefits of sex.
1. Boosts immunity
Hopping in the sack on a regular basis may help boost your immune system and protect you from getting sick, studies show.
Researchers at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania found that college students who had sex one to two times a week had significantly more immunoglobulin A in their systems than people who had sex less often. Immunoglobulin A is an antibody in the mucosal membranes that is considered a first-line defense against infection.
Another study published in 2021 found that having sex more than three times a month seemed to offer a protective effect against COVID-19.
Researchers aren’t sure exactly why sex seems to drive up immunity, but Thomas said it may be because sex increases blood flow, helping to distribute antibodies throughout the body.
2. Improves heart health
Some men worry that sex could trigger a heart attack, but studies show that’s exceedingly rare, especially if you exercise regularly. In fact, the latest research shows that regular romps with your partner are linked to a lower risk of heart problems.
A large study published in The American Journal of Cardiology found that men who had sex at least twice a week were 50 percent less likely to die of heart disease compared with men who had it once a month. In another study, British researchers followed 914 men for 20 years and found that as sexual activity increased, the risk of stroke and heart attack decreased.
For women, a large analysis revealed that those who are satisfied with their sex lives are less likely to have peripheral artery disease, a condition that narrows the arteries and makes stroke more likely.
Researchers believe the protective effects stem from a variety of factors, including lower stress levels, improved sleep and the stronger connection to your partner that has been linked to sex.
3. Strengthens the pelvic floor
A study published in International Urogynecology Journal found that sexually active women were significantly more likely to have a strong pelvic floor compared with those who were not sexually active.
That’s probably because every time you have sex, you give the muscles in your nether regions a workout, Thomas says. When you’re aroused, muscle tension in the pelvic region naturally increases, Thomas explains. Then, during orgasm, all the muscles contract, just as they would during a Kegel exercise.
Having strong pelvic floor muscles gives you control over your bladder and helps prevent incontinence. In men, a weak pelvic floor can contribute to erectile dysfunction.
Another bonus to strengthening your pelvic floor: Researchers say it may make sex even more pleasurable.