Love is the answer, but while you are waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty good questions. ~Woody Allen
There are some very compelling reasons why you should be having sex. A lot of sex. Common sense tells us that the male orgasm directly serves to propagate the species. Although the female orgasm has puzzled scientists forever, there is consensus that it is also related to fertility – ultrasounds of female orgasms show the cervix dipping into the semen with each contraction, increasing the likelihood of fertilization.
Of course, nothing surpasses the pleasure of the O. Check out this website called Beautiful Agony: Facettes de la Petite Mort that I found, um, riveting:
“Beautiful Agony is dedicated to the beauty of human orgasm. This may be the most erotic thing you have ever seen, yet the only nudity it contains is from the neck up. That’s where people are truly naked.
The videos were made in private by the contributor (and sometimes their partner). We don’t know what they’re doing, or how they are doing it, we just know it’s real and it’s sexy as hell.”
They’re right, it is sexy as hell. Yikes, one could er, invest, considerable time on such a site. It’s definitely a vast improvement over the stupid phony orgasms one sees in pornos.
It turns out there are a whole slew of other reasons to have sex, all of which lead to higher quality of life, which leads to more sex, and so on. As researchers focus intently on the science of relationships and sex, many physical benefits are being identified. It’s part of nature’s grand plan to get us into the sack as much as possible.
1. Sex Relieves Stress
- A big health benefit of sex is lower blood pressure and overall stress reduction, according to researchers from Scotland who reported their findings in the journal Biological Psychology. They studied 24 women and 22 men who kept records of their sexual activity. Those who had intercourse had better responses to stress than those who engaged in other sexual behaviors or abstained.
- Kissing causes a drop in cortisol, a stress hormone, reducing anxiety.
- In 2006, Stuart Brody, a psychologist at the University of Paisley, Scotland concluded in a study that having sex before giving a speech in public reduces stammering and nervousness. He also concluded that participants who had penetrative sex were the least stressed, with normal blood pressure, and those who were asked to abstain were greatly stressed and had high blood pressure levels.
- The reason behind the calming effect is the hormone oxytocin, which is released during sexual activity.
Interestingly, it’s also true that highly stressful situations can trigger sexual arousal. Sex therapist Ian Kerstner revisited the 1974 Shaky Bridge Study, which showed that men who spoke to a woman who was sitting on a dangerous suspension bridge were far more likely to engage her and ask her for a date than men who spoke to the same woman on a smaller, sturdy bridge. Adrenaline makes us sexually aroused, and also promotes romantic attachment. It spikes the brain’s natural amphetamines, dopamine and norepinephrine, which play a big role in arousal.
So ladies, we need to figure out better ways of scaring the shit out of guys.
2. Sex Boosts Immunity
- Psychologists Carl Charnetski, Ph.D., and Francis Brennan, Jr., Ph.D., asked 111 college students their frequency of partner sex: none, less than once a week, once or twice a week, or three or more times a week. The once-or-twice-a-week group had the highest levels of immunoglobulin A, and enjoyed the most protection from colds. This group had 30 percent more IgA than the two groups who had less frequent sex and the group that had sex more often (too much of a good thing).
- The researchers also surveyed participants about relationship duration and satisfaction. As duration and satisfaction increased, so did IgA level. Close contact should increase the likelihood of cold transmission–unless interpersonal closeness provides benefits that override the risk of physical proximity.
- A sexually active relationship provides another significant immunological benefit: relaxation. In good relationships, lovemaking is deeply relaxing. Many studies show that deep relaxation stimulates the immune system.
- Lovemaking is also a powerful form of social support. Many studies show that social support revs up the immune system, and helps prevent colds.
Get busy now to ward off the swine flu.
3. Sex Improves Performance in Life
- Contemporary sports medicine and coaching methods have effectively busted the abstinence myth in the athletic world. Studies suggest sex is a performance booster.
- Helen E. Fisher, an anthropology professor and human behaviour researcher at Rutgers University, says increased sexual activity can lead to improved performance at work. Concluding a study in 2005 on around 40,000 Americans, Fisher says, “In addition to being a great exercise and a stress reliever, sex triggers the release of a number of valuable brain chemicals. From improved problem-solving as a result of heightened dopamine levels, to enhanced teamwork skills due to a flood of oxytocin, there are a number of positive benefits that can improve performance in the workplace.”
- Fisher adds, “The dopamine rush one gets from sex is associated with improved creativity, so it’s likely those who have regular sex are more creative at work.”
- Also, after sex, men and women receive a boost of chemicals that generate feelings of trust, attachment and calm. Those who have regular sex are likely to feel more cooperative and agreeable. It also drives up testosterone, which can give men and women feelings of competence, self-confidence and well-being.
However, having sex with a coworker on the conference table the night before a presentation might not give you the polish you’re looking for.
4. Sex Reduces Pain
- During sexual activity, the body releases feel-good endorphins, the brain chemicals that bear a remarkably close resemblance to morphine. Endorphins serve as powerful pain relievers. Sex can cure a headache or reduce PMS symptoms.
- In a study published in the Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine, 48 volunteers who inhaled oxytocin vapor and then had their fingers pricked lowered their pain threshold by more than half.
- In women, sexual stimulation produces a powerful pain-blocking effect. At least one of the mechanisms is that sex blocks the release of neuropeptide labelled as Substance P, which is a pain transmitter.
In their new book Why Women Have Sex, Cindi Meston and David Buss (one of the Evolutionary Psychology gods) highlight 237 reasons, one of which is “to cure a headache.” They also formally state that women sometimes have Pity Sex, which is usually a very bad idea.
5. Sex Helps You Sleep Better
- The oxytocin released during orgasm also promotes sleep, according to research.
- Getting enough sleep has been linked to maintaining a healthy weight and blood pressure.
Duh. Put away the Lunesta and get busy. You can choose to wake your partner, or not; either way you can be asleep in less than ten minutes. I’ve never understood why women resent guys conking out right after sex. Pillow talk is best in the morning.
There are some other research claims that I’m more skeptical about:
- Sex burns calories. OK, yeah, but if you’re not a Cirque de Soleil kinda girl, then you’d be much better off hitting the gym in the morning. 21 hours of sex burns 3,570 calories, or just over a pound. I mean, let’s be honest, sex gets us to our target heart rate for about 30 seconds.
- Sex boosts self-esteem. I agree that meaningful sex boosts self-esteem. And a hookup can boost self-esteem briefly, but can also result in a morning-after crash that makes you feel like hell.
- Sex improves intimacy. Sex does release oxytocin, the hormone that promotes bonding and trust. However, although both sexes get the oxytocin surge, it is suppressed to some degree in men by testosterone. That means that women are bonding more intensely than men are, from a physiological standpoint. This is why women have sex with jerks, and then find themselves developing feelings of attachment for them, even though they don’t particularly like them.
Sex is really, really good for you. However (you knew there was a caveat), sex can also lead women to feel badly about themselves for a whole bunch of reasons. It depends on who you’re bumping with. You need to weigh what approach to sex is right for you. If all else fails, I’ve gotta think that you’ll get at least a partial hit of some of these wonderful benefits flying solo. To paraphrase Woody Allen, at least you’ll be having sex with someone you love.