For the most part, we're in a constant state of trying to be healthier—we go on detoxes to keep our bodies strong, try new workout plans to keep ourselves fit, and eat and drink the right things to get certain nutrients. But instead of looking for something new to try, it would be great if something most of us already do (that's actually pleasurable) could make us healthier. And that's where the benefits of sex come in. You see, we've been hearing for a while now that sex can lower our blood pressure, make us look younger, and even help us live longer.
But is that all a farce?
In order to discover how much truth there is to all of this, we decided to tap a celebrity gynecologist, a leading cardiologist, and a pioneering certified sexological bodyworker to get their professional opinions. And as for what they had to say? Well, you're just going to have to scroll down to see exactly what these three experts think the top health benefits of sex are—some may even surprise you.
The Doctor's Take
"I'm a heart doctor, and I can say intimacy is recommended, safe for almost all, enhanced by a healthy lifestyle, and a topic to be discussed with every patient," says Joel Kahn, MD, FACC, founder of the Kahn Center for Cardiac Longevity and author of Vegan Sex. "The findings that you can prolong your life as well as reduce the risk of heart disease from frequent sexual intercourse are not well-known among the public (or even by medical treaters)," Kahn says. Although this information is mostly buried in the medical literature, when it's studied, he says there is a strong association.
In fact, the doctor says that having sex about eight times a month with a partner may be the "magic frequency" for reaping these health benefits. And he notes that masturbation does not seem to have the same effect (side note: neither does a casual hookup) despite the several studies that suggest otherwise. "Masturbation does not seem to have the same healing effects," Kahn says. Celebrity gynecologist, Sherry Ross, MD, has a different view on the health benefits of masturbation, which she points out below.
The Gynecologist's Take
"There are very few things better in life for your heart, body, and soul than consensual sex," says Sherry A. Ross, MD, women's health expert and author of She-ology: The Definitive Guide to Women's Intimate Health. Period. (By the way, Ross has also called Reese Witherspoon and Yolanda, Gigi, and Bella Hadid patients). Ross believes sex should be a top priority for you and your partner—or by yourself—because the more you have, the more you want. Naturally, it ends up being a great boost to both your sexual desire and libido.
Firstly, Ross says the act of sexual intimacy can be a great workout—women tend to burn on average 70 calories for 30 minutes of activity. Plus, if you add in some Kegel exercises during sex, you're not only strengthening your pelvic floor, but you're also improving your bladder control at the same time (and chances are, you're also heightening your and your partner's orgasms).
Speaking of orgasms, they're helpful in reducing any pain you may be experiencing like cramps, headaches, and joint pain. Women who masturbate often report it helps relieve menstrual cramps and even improves the symptoms of PMS, such as irritability and crankiness, says Ross. Furthermore, sex helps your body's immune system so you can fight off common illnesses (one of her patients refuses to get the flu vaccine every year since she swears her daily orgasms keep the sickness away).
The Alternative Therapist's Take
"These days we are inundated about why we should be having sex—doctors tell us orgasms are good for our health, relationship coaches say it's essential to being part of a couple, and women's magazines tell us we should be a multi-orgasmic goddess," says Kimberly Johnson, a certified sexological bodyworker. So which should it be then? Well, it's less about why you should have sex, and more about the type you should be having.
The benefits from what Johnson calls "fast-food sex" are not much more than quick stress relief to take the edge off. But to have what she calls "gourmet sex"—slower, connected, relational sex—leads to innumerable health benefits. Ultimately, mammals bond through touch, and sexual expression helps a couple bond in a way that other activities don't. "We are living in a time where most people are suffering the effects of isolation," Johnson says. "Getting back into contact with our primal, wild natures, that often are evoked in our sexual interactions, is an anecdote to being lonely and touch-deprived." Not only does the act help you connect with your partner, but it can also make life worth living, the expert says.
What did you think of these benefits of sex? Were there any we left out? Be sure to tell us in the comments.
Up next, read about Gwyneth Paltrow's mindful formula for better sex.