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10 surprising health benefits of sex


WebMD Medical Reference
Medically Reviewed by Dr Rob Hicks

The health benefits of sex extend well beyond the bedroom. It turns out sex is good for you in ways you may never have imagined.

When you're in the mood, it's a sure bet that the last thing on your mind is boosting your immune system or maintaining a healthy weight. Yet good sex offers those health benefits and more.

Sex does the body good in a number of ways, according to experts. The benefits aren't just anecdotal or hearsay - each of these 10 health benefits of sex is backed by scientific scrutiny.

Among the benefits of healthy loving in a relationship:

1. Sex relieves stress

A big health benefit of sex is lower blood pressure and overall stress reduction, according to researchers from Scotland who reported their findings in the journal Biological Psychology. They studied 24 women and 22 men who kept records of their sexual activity. Then the researchers subjected them to stressful situations - such as speaking in public and doing verbal arithmetic - and noted their blood pressure response to stress.

Those who had intercourse had better responses to stress than those who engaged in other sexual behaviours or abstained.

Another study published in the same journal found that frequent intercourse was associated with lower diastolic blood pressure in co-habiting participants. Yet other research found a link between partner hugs and lower blood pressure in women.

2. Sex boosts immunity

Good sexual health may mean better physical health. Having sex once or twice a week has been linked with higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A, or IgA, which can protect you from getting colds and other infections. Scientists took samples of saliva, which contain IgA, from 112 university students, who reported the frequency of sex they had.

Those in the "frequent" group - once or twice a week - had higher levels of IgA than those in the other three groups - who reported being abstinent, having sex less than once a week, or having it very often, three or more times weekly.

3. Sex burns calories

Participating in 30 minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more. It may not sound like much, but it adds up: 42 half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, more than enough to lose a pound. Doubling up, you could drop that pound in 21 hour-long sessions.

Sex can be a great form of exercise.

4. Sex improves cardiovascular health

While some older people may worry that the efforts expended during sex could cause a stroke, that's not so, according to British researchers. In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, scientists found frequency of sex was not associated with stroke in the 914 men they followed for 20 years.

The circulation health benefits of sex don't end there. The researchers also found that having sex twice or more a week reduced the risk of fatal heart attack by half for the men, compared with those who had sex less than once a month.

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