There are few free and safe pastimes that can make you feel euphoric, promote a more intimate relationship with your partner and boast physical and mental benefits. One of those pastimes? Sex! In fact, it's so good for you, someone would make a fortune if they bottled it up and sold it over the counter at CVS.
If you're enjoying a regular sex life, which Dr. Sherry Ross, OB/GYN and women's health expert, defines as having sex one to two times a week, you're increasing your chances of living a healthier and happier life.
"There are very few things better in life for your heart, body, and soul then consensual sex," Ross says. "Emotionally, sex is comforting, calming, relieves stress, reduces anxiety, and boosts your confidence and overall sense of well-being. It's also thought that regular sex allows women and men to look younger and live longer."
Sound too good to be true? Read this, then schedule some time with your partner.
1. It Gives You a Workout
No offense to the gym, but I'll take breaking a sweat between the sheets over killing time on the elliptical any day of the week. In a study of 21 heterosexual couples from the University of Quebec at Montreal, published in http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0079342" target="_blank">PLOS ONE, women burned an average of 69.1 calories when they had sex for an average of slightly less than 25 minutes. The participants, on average, were about 22 and a half years old, but make no mistake that sex can burn calories, and that number will go up if you get on top, assume a squat position during sex, and have an orgasm. "The act of sexual intimacy can be a great workout and counts as such for many as their daily exercise regimen," Ross says.
2. Sex Improves Your Immune System
If you feel a cold coming on, one of the best things you can do (... after taking your vitamin C) is proposition your partner for a little action. Researchers have found that women who have healthy sex lives also have higher levels of antibodies that help fend off illness. "Regular sex makes for a stronger immune system, fighting off common illnesses such as colds and having less sick days from work," Ross says. "Sex also helps lower your blood pressure and lowers your risk of heart attacks."
3. Sex Can Help Your Bladder
Struggling with incontinence post-baby? Try getting in bed (and do some Kegels during sex). "If women incorporate Kegel exercises during sex, it helps strengthen the pelvic floor, improves bladder control, and heightens you and your partner's orgasms," Ross says.
4. Orgasms > Advil
There are a million and one reasons you should have regular orgasms, starting withthey feel incredible. But, from a medical standpoint, the intensely pleasurable feeling you get when your genital muscles contract can actually obviate your need for OTC pain medication.
"Orgasms are helpful in reducing any pain you may be experiencing, such as menstrual cramps, headaches, and joint pain," Ross says. If you track your menstrual cycles and are prone to PMS, having orgasms before your first menstrual cramp strikes could be the ultimate form of preventative care.
5. Sex Can Help You Fall Asleep
A combination of endorphins and the hormone prolactin that are released during sex and, while you have an orgasm, work together to whisk you away to dreamland better than any lullaby. These hormones relax your body and mind and create a tense-free environment that promotes better sleep. "An orgasm is a natural sleeping pill," Ross says.
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6. Sex On Non-Fertile Days Can Boost Your Chances of Getting Pregnant
This one seems obvious, doesn't it? But if you're trying to get pregnant, research shows it's just as important to have sex on those days of the month when you aren't fertile. Researchers at the Kinsey Institute and Indiana University found that, because sex helps strengthen women's immune systems, it creates conditions in the uterus that are more hospitable to a growing embryo — something that wasn't observed in women who weren't as sexually active.
"We're actually seeing the immune system responding to a social behavior: sexual activity," said Tierney Lorenz, a visiting research scientist at the Kinsey Institute. "The sexually active women's immune systems were preparing in advance to the mere possibility of pregnancy."
7. It Will Crush Your Anxiety and Stress
Had a bad day at the office? Having a horribly stressful month in general? It may be tempting to hit happy hour, but a hot round of sex is going to do a lot more for your mood and overall mental well-being.
"Skin-to-skin contact can release oxytocin, nicknamed the 'cuddle hormone,' which can decrease anxiety and promotes feelings of closeness," says sex therapist Vanessa Marin. "Sex can make couples feel more relaxed and connected."
8. It's an Effective Anti-Ager
Who needs expensive creams? In a study published in 2013, Dr. David Weeks, a neuropsychologist based in the UK, shared the results of his interviews with more than 3500 people about their sex lives over the course of 10 years. He found that respondents with regular, healthy sex lives looked up to 7 years younger than people who weren't having sex with a partner two to three times a week. (Weeks credits the release of endorphins during sex, which boosts circulation and reduces stress, as well as the release of human growth hormone, which can promote skin elasticity.)
9. It Gives Your Brain Power a Boost
If you're in need of a little brain boost, hop in bed. A study published in the Journals of Gerontology found that sexually active older adults performed better in verbal fluency and visual tests than those who weren't sexually active, possibly due to the release of dopamine and oxytocin — both of which have been linked to improved cognitive function.