When it comes to the benefits of sex, what comes to mind? Pleasure? Stress relief? The flood of feel-good hormones?
These are the more obvious plus points of having regular sex. It turns out, though, there’s much, much more to it than that.
“The benefits of sex are not confined to the bedroom,” explains Dr. Amy Killen, anti-aging and regenerative physician who specializes in aesthetics and sexual medicine, at Mindvalley’s A-Fest 2018 in Sardinia. “The effects of an active sex life spill over and they infiltrate every little nook and cranny of our lives to make us happier and healthier.”
What are the benefits of having sex exactly, you ask? There is plenty she highlights in her Quest on Mindvalley called The Science of Great Sex — and it’s worth exploring the main ones, handpicked for their great impact on our overall well-being.
And so, here are the science-backed benefits of sex, explained.
1. It Strengthens the Connection With Your Partner
One of the things Dr. Killen’s patients complain to her about is not so much about their sexual problems, such as sex after menopause. Rather, it’s that they feel disconnected from their partner, especially for older-aged people.
“We all know that we feel closest to our partners in the minutes and hours and days after having sex,” explains Dr. Killen. “And we know that couples that have regular sex tend to be happier and tend to stay together longer.”
In fact, the researchers of a 2017 study found that those with an active, satisfying sex life have high levels of well-being. Additionally, they also found that when couples incorporate daily kissing, hugging, and touching on top of the sex, the relationship satisfaction was much higher.
Sex gives us the opportunity to deeply connect with a partner. It gives us the opportunity to exercise our humanness in a world and a time where that’s becoming more and more of a rarity.— Dr. Amy Killen, trainer of Mindvalley’s The Science of Great Sex Quest
You may have likely heard stories of random hookups that turn into a relationship. There are even movies that feature it, like Before Sunrise, The Holiday, and Entergalactic.
Sex can absolutely be what kickstarts the connecting factor between you with another person. However, it also has the power to awaken your inner sex goddess or god, and bolster a deeper and long-term bond.
2. It’s a Form of Exercise
Have you ever seen someone with a healthy sex life stay still? That’s because pleasurable coitus wasn’t designed to be that way. There are kama sutra-inspired movements, twisting and turning, gasping for air…
But can sex be considered exercise? Yes and no — it depends on what your definition of exercise is.
If you exercise to tone or build your muscles, then perhaps not. The reason is that, for most of us, sex doesn’t last long enough to make any significant physiological changes.
However, an article by Harvard Medical School suggests it can be considered “mild to moderate” exercise, liking the intensity to “doing the foxtrot, raking leaves, or playing ping pong.”
With that being said, Dr. Killen explains it truly depends on “how you’re doing it.” She adds, “Sex is an exercise with occasional high intensity, interval training in between.”
3. It Lowers Your Stress Levels
Stress is a natural part of human life — we have a built-in mechanism to “fight or flight” in stressful situations, after all. Even so, when we’re living in a state of perpetual cortisol-induced days, our health can take a deep plunge into oblivion.
The Stress In America 2022 report by the American Psychological Association found that “around three-quarters of adults (76%) said they have experienced health impacts due to stress.” What’s more, chronic stress can lead to a decline in sexual energy.
So if stress can reduce the appetite for sex, can connecting in bed lower the levels of stress? According to Dr. Killen, it most certainly can.
Research has even found that having a healthy sex life can lower cortisol and adrenaline levels. Additionally, your body releases endorphins and oxytocin, mood-boosting hormones that enable you to feel a whole lot more relaxed.
4. It Improves Your Self-Esteem
Your confidence often comes into play when you’re going into a sexual experience. And at times, it can lead to sexual anxiety.
It’s a paradox, in a way — you need the confidence to have sex, but sex can lead to confidence. Furthermore, research from the University of Texas revealed that one of the reasons why people have sex is to help boost their confidence and feel more secure about themselves.
And how does sex help? As Dr. Killen explains, “Oxytocin brings about feelings of trust and bonding, and also helps improve self-esteem and reduce stress.”
5. It Minimizes Pain
Speaking of endorphins, this hormone is also known as “the brain’s natural painkillers,” says Dr. Killen. And during orgasm, the release of it can help minimize pain.
There have been studies that suggest headaches have improved after climaxing. One, which was conducted at the Headache Clinic at Southern Illinois University, found half of the female participants reported relief from their migraine after orgasm.
It’s important to note, though, that while frequent sex is beneficial, reaching climax is the key to minimizing the pain. So, before you reach for an aspirin the next time you feel a headache coming on, consider the big O.
6. It Improves Your Sleep
Sleep is just as important to your sexual health as it is to your overall health, according to Dr. Killen. So sex and sleep? They’re “intimately entangled.”
For example, getting enough sleep can help you increase your libido and have better sexual responses. And regular sex can help with sleep.
If you’ve felt so relaxed and nodded off post-coitus, science can explain why. After orgasm, the body releases oxytocin and prolactin, hormones that can induce pleasant and relaxing feelings.
Whether you’re going at it solo or with a partner, research has shown that sexual activity can promote sleep. One study, in particular, found that orgasms with a partner were “associated with the perception of favorable sleep outcomes,” whereas masturbation was “associated with the perception of better sleep quality and latency.”
When you’re working towards realizing your sexual potential, nothing you do will move the need at all if you don’t start with sleep.— Dr. Amy Killen, trainer of Mindvalley’s The Science of Great Sex Quest
7. It Strengthens Your Pelvic Floor Muscles
Anyone who has a pelvic floor dysfunction of any kind knows how important it is to strengthen the muscles in that area. It supports the bladder, bowel, uterus, vagina (for females), and prostrate (for males).
“Not only do these muscles hold up the sexual organs and prevent things like urine and stool from slipping out at awkward moments,” Dr. Killen explains in her Mindvalley Quest, “they also play an essential role in sexual function and pleasure in men and women.”
One research concluded that a strong pelvic floor is associated with higher rates of sexual activity. Additionally, for those who prefer self-pleasure or are not involved with a partner, Dr. Killen suggests that masturbation is also an option to help strengthen the muscles.
8. It May Lower Your Risk of Prostate Cancer
One sex myth Dr. Killen often runs into is semen retention, the practice of not ejaculating for a period of time even when having sex and orgasm.
It’s not the same as celibacy and abstaining from coitus (and the benefits of not having sex are very much different). She explains the advocates of this practice claim the range of advantages includes “improved self-confidence and memory to thicker hair and stronger life force.”
However, research has shown that frequent ejaculation, regardless if it’s with a partner or self-induced, can be beneficial for prostate health. The results of a 2016 study show that there was a lower risk of prostate cancer amongst men who ejaculated at least 21 times per month than those who ejaculated less often.
“It’s with the thinking being that ejaculating may be a good way to purge toxins and impurities from the prostate,” Dr. Killen adds.
9. It Boosts Your Immune System
“What you may not know is that sex is also great for your immune system,” says Dr. Killen. Think about it — because sex releases powerful hormones and neurotransmitters, lowers your stress levels, minimizes pain, improves your sleep, and so on, it ultimately helps strengthen your immunity. This applies to both self-pleasure and partnered sex.
As a matter of fact, one study found that those who have sex more than three times a month have lower incidences of disease than those who had less than that. Simply put, frequent sex helps a person’s immunity become “more competent to deal with pathogens.”
Keep in mind that you should still do other things to keep your immune system up, like having a well-balanced diet, staying active, getting quality sleep, and so on.
10. It Helps You Live Longer
A thriving sex life brings about one of the best health benefits of sex: longevity. In the Quest, Dr. Killen highlights two studies that have supported this:
- A 2017 study published in Psychoneuroendocrinology found that sex is shown to be tied to longer telomere length in women. And longer telomeres are directly linked to longevity.
- An older, but still valid study in men showed that those who had sex twice a week had a 50% lower death rate over a 10-year period than those who had sex once a month.
The bottom line is, as with boosting immunity, the collective benefits of having sex every day (or regularly), can help you live longer.
Great Sex, Better Life
Sex has the ability to make us healthier but little did many of us know how incredibly linked it is to the nooks and crannies of our overall well-being. But that’s what sexual health is truly about — it’s about you and your health.
You can learn to optimize your sexual health using scientific, medically-proven strategies with the guidance of Dr. Amy Killen. In The Science of Great Sex Quest on Mindvalley, you’ll find out how powerful and truly empowering sex can be.
When you sign up for a free Mindvalley account, you can sample the first few lessons for free. Additionally, you’ll have access to meditations that can support your journey of sexuality and sensuality.
After all, when you transform your sex life and you’ll transform your life.