Couples today get caught up with their hectic schedules and have less time to spend time together. Sex, however, still figures in their relation, but more as a mechanical routine built into a minute-to-minute day-night schedule than as a means to bond.
But suppose partners equated sex as a means to good health, would they still treat doing it as a chore? Probably not! Sex would then most likely figure higher in their list of "must dos".
Now here's some good news. Sex is good for your health. In order to convince you, let's take a look at health benefits of sexual intimacy.
Good sex is good for you
For starters, let's get this straight. Just any sex isn't good for you – good sex is good for your health. As to what constitutes good sex, women define it as safe sex. Before you jump to conclusions, consider that by safe sex, women don't only have in mind sexual conduct that safeguards them from contracting a sexually-transmitted disease and unwanted pregnancy. They also mean sex that comes with a guarantee of emotional safety. Yes, that's right - it isn't the performance of their partner that bothers women so much, but their own emotional health. Why? Apparently, when it comes to health, women only benefit from sexual activity when they feel fulfilled, and this comes from a close, loving connect with their partner. Evidently then, engaging in habitual unfeeling sex - even with a husband - is the anti-thesis of the safe sex that women need to bloom.
Sex and longevity
Before all you men roll your eyes at this proposition, contemplate this – good sex that is mutually caring intimacy contributes to longevity for both men and women. Evidently, men stand to gain more than just contented wives from sharing their thoughts and feelings with their partners!
Speaking of statistics, a December 1997 issue of the British Medical Journal describes a study that tracked 918 Welsh men between the ages of 45 and 59 – of comparable circumstances, age and health. Over 10 years, 150 men died, 67 of them from heart disease. When the research team analysed the information gathered over the course of the study, they found that the risk of death from all causes was halved in men who reported the highest frequency of orgasm, compared to men with the least sexual activity. Further, most of that protection took the form of a reduction in the number of deaths associated with heart disease.
Sex assures you a stronger heart
Evidently, in spite of the fact that sex isn't for those who are faint of heart, it can prevent you from becoming faint-hearted! Besides improved cardiovascular health, experts have also linked good sex with a reduced risk of suffering a stroke. These gains aren't only traced to the obvious cause - sex equals exercise which is good for the heart and body in general.
Here too, there is a definite link between emotional wellbeing, or the feeling of being connected and hence content that emanates from good sex and the health of the heart.
Sex ensures better immunity
In his book Sexual Healing, Dr Paul Pearsall, Director of Behavioural Medicine at Detroit's Beaumont Hospital, wrote about "intimacy inoculation," a protection from disease that stems from the pleasures of living and loving. How exactly does this defence set in? The concept of sexual healing is linked to the fact that sex – when associated with an intimate relationship - causes a measurable change in neuro-chemicals and hormones that promote health and healing.
To quote a scientific study supporting this observation, Wilkes University in Pennsylvania discovered that individuals who engage in sex once or twice a week show 30 per cent higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A [IgA], which is known to boost the immune system. Yet again, the scientists emphasised that it was the quality and not the quantity of sex that was invoking this benefit as people who had very frequent sex had lower IgA levels than those who had no sex at all.
Sexual exercise leads to well-toned bodies
Speaking of exercise, you know how so many shirkers back out of rigorous exercise schedules as they find it boring to exercise alone? Well – here's a way to exercise with your partner and burn calories in the process! Indulging in half an hour of sexual activity burns around 150 calories – which is about the same amount you'd offload by running for 10 minutes on a treadmill.
Sex and strength training
It's not only weight loss, but overall fitness that you can hope to achieve from your sexual work-outs. Truly, sex is no less than a good aerobic session that increases your pulse rate from about 70 beats per minute to 150. It works your entire body, especially your arm, buttock, pelvis, thighs, thorax and neck muscles, and thus stands to boost your metabolism. Besides, sex encourages deep breathing that raises the amount of oxygen in your cells and ensures your body organs function optimally. So – wouldn't you equate your bed with the snazziest equipment in your neighbourhood gym?
Stronger bones and muscles
Here is a more direct link - sex boosts the production of testosterone, which leads to stronger bones and muscles, thus reducing your risk of osteoporosis.
Women enjoy better bladder control
Kegel exercises, the involuntary exercises you do to stem your flow of urine, involve the same set of muscles that are worked when you engage in sex. Women that use these muscles well during sex especially stand to gain from better bladder control.
Regularised hormonal secretions
In addition to increasing the levels of testosterone in men, regular sex helps normalise the secretion of women's fertility hormones and the menstrual cycle - both of which are related to wellbeing by regular, experts suggest weekly intercourse. Less frequent or intermittent sex isn't advisable as it drives hormones hay-wire and also causes estrogens to fluctuate wildly. So if you can't have good sex with your better half, then don't try and hitch up with just anyone - as there is no benefit to be gained by going down that road!
Sex relieves pain
Apparently, just before an orgasm, the body experiences a rush in the levels of the feel-good hormone — oxytocin. Oxytocin, in turn, releases pain-alleviating endorphins. So whether it's a simple headache or nagging migraine or even pain associated with arthritis, expect the symptoms to reduce after a session of sex. Women may also take advantage from a higher level of oestrogen, which may reduce pain due to PMS.
If all this has you making a mental note to speak to partner about stepping up your sexual life, do mull over the other side too, lest you get carried away and end up doing it too often. In other words, can you have too much of a good thing? Of course!
In fact, good sex is not necessarily too frequent sex. Nature has devised a natural ebb and flow of the body's muscles, to ensure oxygenation after sex and much needed rest. Pumping your body with tablets to perform longer or better is totally against its natural rhythm, and will negate any benefit from performing the act. Remember - it's important to listen to your body. Moderation is the key.
The Broader Picture
The broader picture that emanates from this perspective on sex and health is the need to focus on good sex – which can only be experienced with a loved partner. In fact, many proponents of good sex go a step further, describing sex as a much broader concept than having an orgasm or connecting genitally.
If your feeling is strong enough, then simply holding hands, or hugging, caressing, kissing, or even exchanging a loving look equate with sex. It's all a question of feeling a connection, to experience emotional fulfilment and better health.
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