How Sex Can Improve Your Health

by Allison Bush Editor

Sex may do a lot more for you than physical pleasure - it can do anything from ward off the common cold to armor you against cancer.

It can give your immune system a boost

Want to avoid the dreaded seasonal cold? Researchers at Wilkes-Barre University in Pennsylvania found that people who had sex once or twice a week had the highest levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) in their saliva, which is the body's first line of defense against cold viruses.

So, instead of avoiding your loved one when you feel a cold coming on, do the exact opposite.

It helps relieve stress

A study conducted on rats showed that having sex daily for two weeks led to cell growth in the hippocampus, the part of the brain that keeps stress levels under control. Another study showed that people who had daily sex for two weeks had lower stress-related blood pressure than those who did not.

It's good for your heart

Epidemiologists at the New England Research Institutes found that men who had sexual activity once a month or less were at 50 percent greater risk of cardiovascular disease than the men who had sex more than once a week.

It can help reduce chronic pain

Sex releases a serious cocktail of pain killers into the blood stream, including phenyl ethylamine, seratonin, oxytocin, and endorphins. In fighting pain, endorphins are the most important, as they are one of the body's natural opioids and have a chemical structure that is similar to the synthetic pain reliever, morphine.

It staves off symptoms of menopause

Scientists in New Jersey found that postmenopausal women who had sexual relations more than 10 times a year had less evidence of vaginal atrophy than those who reported less frequent sex. By using this part of the body, women can help prevent the tissue from becoming thinner and less elastic as they age.

Protects the prostate from cancer

Some studies have suggested that men with a higher frequency of ejaculations may have a slightly lower risk of prostate cancer.

The U.S. study, which followed nearly 30,000 men over eight years, showed that those that ejaculated most frequently were significantly less likely to get prostate cancer. The results back smallerstudy revealed in 2003 that suggested that masturbation was good for men.

Allison Bush
Meet Our Writer
Allison Bush

Allison Bush is a former HealthCentral editor who covered a wide range of health topics.