Does Sex Have Health Benefits?

The Multifaceted Health Benefits of Sex

Sex is an integral aspect of life, contributing not only to procreation and pleasure but also to our overall health and well-being. Sex and sexuality profoundly impact our physical, intellectual, emotional, psychological, and social spheres. Understanding these effects is crucial, especially as we navigate the changes in our sex lives that come with aging.

Sadly, as many get older, sex life disappears, and it should not be that way. I tell my patients, “If your sex life at age 65 is not better than it was at age 25, something may be wrong”.

When most people think about sex, pleasure and reproduction are the first things that come to mind. However, there is more to sex than these aspects, as research confirms repeatedly. Good sex in a healthy, stable, monogamous relationship can only better our physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual well-being.

Sex, in this context, offers tons of benefits, most of which we don’t embrace nearly enough. Engaging in sexual activity at least twice a week can enhance self-esteem, increase capacity for pleasure, alleviate stress, fortify the immune system, reduce inflammation, and even help burn calories. Let’s explore these benefits in detail.

1. Calorie Burning

While it shouldn’t replace your gym routine, sex is more effective at burning calories than passive activities like watching TV. Studies have shown that an average sexual encounter burns between 69 and 100 calories, with sex qualifying as a form of moderate exercise. The intensity and duration of the activity influence the exact calorie count.

2. Immune System Boost

Regular sexual activity links to higher levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA) in saliva, an antibody that plays a critical role in immune function. This connection is particularly evident in a 2018 study comparing sexually active women with those abstaining from sex. Low levels of IgA are associated with increased susceptibility to respiratory illnesses. Additionally, the release of the ‘love hormone’ oxytocin during sexual encounters can balance the body’s hormones, promoting a robust immune response.

3. Heart Health Promotion

Sexual activity positively impacts heart health by increasing heart rate and reducing stress, thus supporting blood flow efficiency and lowering blood pressure. Notably, a study found that men who had sex less frequently were at a higher risk of developing cardiovascular disease compared to those who were more sexually active.

4. Brain Health Benefits

Sexual activity is a boon for brain health. The physical stress of sex triggers the release of endorphins, the body’s natural painkillers, leading to a feeling of euphoria post-orgasm. The brain’s hypothalamus goes into overdrive during orgasm, releasing a cocktail of hormones, including oxytocin and dopamine. These hormones help reduce cortisol levels, thereby boosting mood and relieving stress.

5. Improved Sleep Quality

Many people find that they fall asleep more quickly after sex, a phenomenon particularly pronounced in men due to the release of prolactin during ejaculation. Prolactin, known as the ‘satisfaction hormone,’ is also linked to sleep. Additionally, other chemicals like vasopressin and oxytocin released during sex are associated with relaxation and sleep readiness.

Differences in Health Benefits Between Genders

While many of the health benefits of sex are common to both women and men, there are specific advantages unique to each gender. For women, regular sexual activity strengthens the pelvic floor muscles, which are crucial for childbirth, bladder control, and incontinence prevention. It also promotes vaginal lubrication. In men, frequent ejaculation has been linked to a reduced risk of prostate cancer, offering a protective effect against this common male health issue.

Why Your Sex Drive May Have Declined

Sexual dysfunction affects 43% of women and 31% of men worldwide. As we age, our sex drive can diminish due to a range of factors, such as hormonal imbalances, medication side effects, and chronic health conditions. For example, women undergoing menopause can experience a significant drop in estrogen levels, leading to reduced sexual desire, vaginal dryness, and discomfort during intercourse. Men may experience low testosterone levels, contributing to declining libido and erectile dysfunction.

Hormonal Imbalance

A primary factor in the reduction of sexual drive is the imbalance of sex hormones, a common occurrence during significant life changes such as menopause or post-pregnancy. In women, the onset of menopause can drastically reduce estrogen levels, with up to 80% lost in the first year. This significant hormonal change can manifest in decreased libido, vaginal dryness, and discomfort during intercourse, primarily due to the high concentration of estrogen receptors in the vaginal tissue. Estrogen plays a vital role in maintaining vaginal health, including tissue engorgement, lubrication, and overall sexual pleasure.

For men, testosterone is the primary hormone driving sexual desire and function. A decrease in testosterone levels can lead to symptoms such as gynecomastia (enlarged breasts) and erectile dysfunction. Several factors can contribute to low testosterone levels, including trauma to the testicles, exposure to chemotherapy or radiation, the use of anabolic steroids, certain medications, and chronic medical conditions.

Chronic Health Issues

Various chronic health conditions can have detrimental impacts on sexual drive. Illnesses such as diabetes, osteoarthritis, heart disease, autoimmune disorders, hypertension, cancer, and sleep apnea are known to contribute to a decrease in libido.

Specifically, diabetes can lead to elevated blood sugar levels, which may harm the cardiovascular system. This complication can manifest as erectile dysfunction in men and an increased likelihood of yeast and bladder infections in women. Similarly, heart disease and elevated blood pressure can impede blood flow to the genital area, thereby reducing sexual arousal and natural lubrication. These factors highlight the interconnected nature of overall health and sexual well-being, underscoring the importance of managing chronic conditions for maintaining a healthy sex life.

Emotional and Psychological Barriers

Physical factors do not solely influence the desire for sex; emotional and psychological elements play a significant role as well. Various mental health challenges like anxiety, depression, fatigue, low self-esteem, or experiences of past sexual trauma can considerably dampen one’s interest in sexual activities. Additionally, relational dynamics characterized by a lack of trust, ongoing conflicts, lack of romance, or ineffective communication can also lead to decreased libido.

However, it’s essential to recognize that these factors don’t have to dictate the quality of sexual life. Actively working to alleviate stress and fostering open, honest communication with your partner are essential steps in mitigating the impact of these emotional and psychological barriers to sex drive.

Medications

Some medications can cause sexual dysfunction or lowered sexual desire. These medications include:

  • Antidepressants with serotonergic effects
  • Antipsychotics that increase prolactin levels
  • Medicines for an enlarged prostate, including finasteride and dutasteride
  • Hormonal contraceptives such as birth control pills
  • Blood pressure medication

Recreational drug use or excessive alcohol consumption can also result in low libido.

Natural Ways to Enhance Your Sex Drive

Fortunately, there are natural ways to rebalance hormones and improve sexual health. Dietary modifications, lifestyle changes, and effective stress management (all parts of the 7 Systems Plan) can significantly influence hormonal balance and enhance overall sexual well-being. By focusing on these natural approaches, it is possible to mitigate the effects of hormonal imbalances and maintain a healthy and fulfilling sexual life.

Remember, a decline in sexual desire isn’t an inevitable part of aging or life’s challenges. You have the power to cultivate a fulfilling sexual life and enjoy its numerous health benefits, regardless of your age. To enhance your sex drive, consider integrating lifestyle changes, focusing on mental well-being, and nurturing positive relationship dynamics. With the right approach, you can maintain a vibrant and satisfying sexual life.

Improving your sex life and reaping its health benefits is possible at any age, and you can do it naturally. Here’s how:

1. Dietary Changes

Prioritize a diet rich in organic fruits, vegetables, grass-fed meats, and wild-caught fish. Certain aphrodisiac foods, like oysters, honey, chocolate, avocados, bananas, red wine, and figs, can also enhance your sexual health.

2. Stress Management

Incorporate stress-reducing activities into your daily routine. Techniques such as deep breathing, dancing, listening to music, or engaging in gentle exercises like yoga can significantly lower stress levels, thus improving sexual desire.

3. Regular Exercise

Engaging in 30 minutes of daily physical activity can boost your mood, enhance self-confidence, and improve overall health – all of which contribute to a healthier sex life. Options range from home workouts and yoga to simple activities like walking or dancing.

4. Supplements

Everyday Essentials Men’s by Nutri-Dyn is a comprehensive multivitamin and mineral supplement designed to support men’s health by optimizing hormone levels, boosting energy, and reducing inflammation.

Each bottle of Everyday Essentials Men’s contains 30 packets of high-quality foundational supplements from NutriDyn, including Essential Multi, Omega Pure EPA-DHA 500, Testro Balance, Zinc Pro, and His Vitality. While each ingredient helps with sexual function, these two are key:

  • Testro Balance is a comprehensive blend of nutrients and herbal extracts to support healthy testosterone levels and endocrine function. It contains nutrients and herbal extracts that assist in testosterone production and help protect testicular tissues from oxidative stress. Healthy testosterone levels support mood, libido, energy, and reproductive health.
  • His Vitality contains adaptogens and herbal extracts that synergistically promote healthy testosterone levels, libido, and blood circulation.

Everyday Essentials Women’s by NutriDyn is a comprehensive micronutrient and antioxidant supplement that supports strong bones, optimal hormone levels, a balanced mood, and overall female health.

Each bottle of Everyday Essentials Women’s contains 30 packets of high-quality foundational supplements from NutriDyn, including Essential Multi with Iron, Omega Pure EPA-DHA 500, and Bone Support.

5. Boost Nitric Oxide

Nitric Oxide is critical for healthy sexual function. Stay tuned for our next newsletter, where we will explore this miracle molecule.

Remember, sex is not just a source of pleasure and means for procreation; it can be a crucial part of a healthy lifestyle. Enjoy.

For your health,

Dr. Pat

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Dr. Pat Luse

I'm the president and CEO of one of the largest multi-disciplinary clinics in the Midwest. As one of the most highly trained health coaches in America today, I am uniquely qualified to help individuals have amazing health transformations and I can't wait to help you!

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