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Twenty ways sex benefits your health

While the pleasure of sex is one of the greatest feelings known to humankind, science now knows that there are many health benefits associated with regular sex. No matter your age, sex can improve your state of mind, reduce pain, improve your sense of self-worth among other health benefits, writes Dr Kizito Lubano

1. Boosts immunity Psychologists in Pennsylvania have shown that people who have sex once or twice a week get a boost to their immune systems. Regular sex increases levels of the antibody immunoglobin, which means greater immune resistance.

2. Good for the heart Results of a study recently published in the American Journal of Cardiology show that men who have regular sex are up to 45 per cent less likely to develop fatal heart conditions than those who only have sex once a month or less.

3. Reduces stress Researchers have found that sex and physical intimacy lead women to feel less stressed and are in a better mood the following day. (These results weren’t found when women had orgasms through masturbation.) The same study found that being in a good mood predicted more physical affection and sexual activity with a partner the next day. Thus, sex can lead you to feel less stressed, and being less stressed—or at least in a better mood—can lead to more sex. A very productive and healthy cycle to establish!

4. Acts as a natural pain killer Oxytocin, often referred to as the “love hormone”, is one of several chemicals released during sex. It increases endorphins that decrease pain, particularly headaches. Sex has also been shown to speed up the healing of wounds, even stubborn sores like those caused by diabetes.

5. Induces sleep The release of oxytocin evokes feelings of contentment, reduces anxiety, and creates feelings of calmness and security focused around your partner. Combined, these physiological reactions soothe us to sleep.

6. Lowers blood pressure A recent study examined participants’ blood pressure as a measure of their stress responses during public speaking or challenging math problems — situations that commonly elevate stress levels. It was found that those who had recently had intercourse tended to have lower baseline blood pressure.

7. Improves self-esteem When we feel needed and wanted, our self-esteem naturally increases. Having our bodies accepted — with all its flaws and imperfections, feeling sexually attractive and desirable, spells a boost to our sense of self-worth.

8. Burns calories Sex is a workout! According to several studies, the average lovemaking session burns between 50 and 100 calories. Having sex three times a week burns 7500 calories per year —equivalent of jogging 75 miles! And the more intense the sex, the more calories are burned: Up to 15,000 calories annually (at a frequency of three times weekly). While sex may not have the added benefits of traditional cardio or strength training, it unquestionably adds to our overall weight picture.

9. Keeps skin young and healthy Teenagers aren’t the only ones whose complexion benefit from having sex. The act of sex increases blood circulation throughout the body, which helps pump oxygen to our skin. This results in a brighter appearance, which explains the tell-tale glow most of us have afterwards. Regular intercourse can actually make us look younger! Sex also boosts our natural collagen production, which can ward off age spots and wrinkles.

10. Helps maintain healthy sperm Several studies show that men who have frequent sex have higher volumes of semen, a higher sperm count, and a higher percentage of healthy sperm as compared to men who do not.

11. Improves the quality of hair Hormones not only regulate our sex drives, they contribute to the condition of our hair. Research has shown that regular sex has a direct affect on the quality of our hair, lush hair resulting from the body’s increased ability to take up and metabolise nutrients more efficiently.

12. Strengthens nails The sex-triggered hormones that make our skin glow after sex also affects our nails. As science has long known, our general health is reflected in the condition of our nails. Dry, brittle nails is a sign for poor health. There is a direct link between sex, our state of health, and the quality of our nails.

13. Gets rid of acne According to several studies, the same hormonal process that improves the quality of our hair and nails also reduce acne outbreaks. The boost to our natural collagen production can greatly affect the appearance and frequency of blemishes. Additionally, science has proven that semen applied directly to the face acts as a powerful astringent as well as providing concentrated amounts of healthful nutrients.

14. Keeps us hydrated Sex improves circulation throughout our bodies, so blood flows more efficiently, which gives our bodies the moisture it needs to maintain health. Furthermore, having heated, sweaty sex expels excess dirt and toxins from our pores, allowing for more free-flow of moisture.

15. Lowers the risk of prostate cancer Studies show that men in their twenties who ejaculate five or more times a week reduced their risk of prostate cancer by a third, and older men reporting 21 or more ejaculations per month lowered their risk as well.

16. Lowers the risk of breast cancer Regular sex has been shown to reduce the risk of breast cancer in women. In addition to boosting the immune system, improving blood circulation, and causing the secretion of breast-beneficial hormones, the fondling, kissing and sucking of breasts during sex is thought to promote breast health.

17. Strengthens our emotional bond The release of oxytocin (by design) helps people build trust and bond with one other. The more sex a couple has, the more oxytocin is exchanged and the greater the bond that is created. Oxytocin also brings out a woman’s maternal instincts as well as a man’s protective instincts.

18. Makes us feel young In many circumstances, nothing can make us feel as young and revitalised as a fulfilling sexual encounter. Regardless of our age, sex recalls the power and vim of youth. And since many of us experience an increase in libido in middle age, fulfilling that sexual need can be just as invigorating as in younger days.

19.Strengthens pelvic floor muscles When sex incorporates pelvic floor muscle exercises known as Kegels, which stimulates both men and women, the pelvis floor muscles are strengthened. (To do a basic Kegel exercise, tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor, as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine. Count to three, then release.)

20. Inspires There can be no denying the creative urges that can arise in the aftermath of sex. The muse of sex is like no other. Countless poems, stories, songs, paintings, photographs, and other works of art have been inspired by satisfying sex. And as any artist can tell you, there is nothing quite so wonderful as the feeling they get by expressing themselves through their art. And when one’s love interest is the focus of this expression, this often leads to a closer, more loving relationship.

Sex is at the centre of many more things than we would like to admit even though there are those institutions that would have us remain as ignorant as possible about our sexuality. “The idea that we are vital, sexual creatures is still looked at in some cases with disgust and in others, with a bit of embarrassment,” says Dr Joy Davidson, a psychologist and sex therapist in Healthy Sex and Mental Health. Take a fertility test today

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