By: Holly L. Thacker, MD
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Sex offers more than a feeling of intimacy or pleasure — it also offers incredible health benefits. Besides the emotional aspects and feelings of well being, it can be good for your heart, relieve pain and help you sleep restfully. It also can ease headaches, despite common beliefs to the contrary.
How sex helps your heart
Researchers have found that men who had sex at least twice a week were less likely to develop heart disease compared to men who only had sex once per month, according to a 2010 study published in the American Journal of Cardiology.
Stories about men or women experiencing heart attacks mid-session are most likely due a stress or anxiety-ridden relationship.
Partners in trusting relationships usually aren’t at risk unless there are underlying risk factors. However, relationships where there is a cheating partner – where an increased level of distress may be involved – could put someone at risk.
If you can walk up a flight of stairs briskly, you have enough cardiac output to engage in sexual activity. In fact, if you have had heart surgery or a heart attack, I encourage you to talk to your physician about when you can get back to regular activities, including intercourse.
Natural relief from pain
Sex can also be good medicine for head pain. Despite this, you may have to push past a headache to see these benefits.
With sexual activity and climax, there is a release of endorphins, which are natural painkillers. Many people note less migraine headaches. They tend to feel relaxed, at peace with a sense of contentment.
Men and women may benefit differently
Sex may also help you sleep. This is especially true for men. Scientists believe it’s because there is a part of the brain that winds down after sex, releasing calming chemicals. This causes many muscle groups to relax, too.
Both sexes experience climax, and there’s muscle relaxation and a natural sedation that follows. For women in particular, sex improves pelvic floor strength. Orgasms are associated with contractions of the pelvic floor. The stronger the pelvic floor, the better.
People in a loving relationship can enjoy the many health benefits of sex, in addition to the emotional connection and a shared feeling of well being.