Sex in men’s health


It’s not actually true that men think about sex every seven seconds

Men are famous for how often they think about sex. It’s not actually true that they think about it every seven seconds, but it is a topic that comes up pretty often in thoughts and – in the right surroundings – in conversations. This mild obsession is a good source of jokes for comedians and of occasional embarrassment for everyone else. On the other hand there’s good news too – if you think about sex a lot you’re paying attention to something that’s very good for your health.

Sex isn’t just fun; it’s also a great way to go about staying both physically and mentally healthy. There’s a strong connection between sex and positive emotions – happiness, satisfaction, affection and a lot of other good stuff. That’s good news because these emotions can have a real effect on health; feeling good is good for you. Sex is also great exercise, burning a lot more calories than you would if you were sitting around. Finally, having sex triggers the release of hormones that help in all sorts of ways, from getting you a great night’s sleep to boosting your metabolic rate and strengthening your immune system.


If you don’t have a good sex life it leaves a gap

Are there any risks to not having sex? Yes, there are. Sex and intimacy are basic human needs. If you’re not experiencing them something important is missing in your life. There are people who manage to channel these needs in a different direction but for most of us becoming a monk isn’t a realistic option, so if you don’t have a good sex life it leaves a gap. That causes both mental and emotional stress, and stress can have a whole range of health effects. Some of the risks are headaches, stomach problems, high blood pressure, sleep issues, depression, diabetes and even heart disease. A little stress can be motivational but if it goes on for too long it’s definitely a bad thing. It’s estimated that 43 % of adults suffer from stress-related health problems at any one time.

Sex triggers the release of beneficial hormones, so it goes without saying that if you’re not having sex they’re not being released. This leaves you at risk of imbalance in several vital hormone levels including oestrogen and testosterone, and that can lead to osteoporosis and heart failure.

So that’s the risks you run by not having sex. Let’s look in more detail at the benefits of having it. There are many of them, covering the whole spectrum of men’s health. Firstly there’s the obvious one; it’s good exercise. A vigorous session burns about 200 calories – that’s the same as 15 minutes on the treadmill or a round of squash. During sex your pulse rate more than doublesfrom 70 to 150 in the average man – which is equivalent to a top athlete working flat out. Sex won’t replace a proper exercise programme but it’s definitely a useful addition to it. The benefits cover both cardio health and flexibility, because you’re not just pushing your heart rate up – you’re using a lot of muscle groups too.


Stress and loneliness cause depression, and sex relieves both of these

Stress and loneliness cause depression, and sex relieves both of these. It helps relieve depression more directly, too. When you have sex dopamine – the body’s natural “feel good” chemical – is released and makes its way to receptors in your brain. Dopamine is used as a treatment for depression, but if you have an active and enjoyable sex life you’re getting its benefits already!

Your metabolism is key to good health, and sex will help out in lots of ways. It increases testosterone and that’s good news for many reasons. Testosterone helps you keep good muscle tone, it strengthens bones, keeps blood pressure down, improves the ratio of lean to fatty body mass and controls chemicals that cause platelet aggregation in your blood. That’s important because if your blood’s platelets clump too easily you’re at a higher risk of strokes and heart attacks. Studies suggest that men who have sex at least twice a week are half as likely to die of heart disease as those who have it rarely. That’s a startling statistic; it’s hard to believe, but not having sex regularly is as bad for your heart as smoking.

Your immune system is what protects your body against infection from bacteria, viruses and parasites, and even some cancers. The stronger it is the better, and sex helps boost its disease-fighting powers. People who have sex at least once or twice a week have much higher levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that strengthens your immunity against all sorts of infections. Sexually active people take less days off sick than those who abstain.

There are many other physical benefits to staying sexually active. Sex releases a hormone called oxytocin, which helps you sleep. Sleeping in turn releases two more hormones, ghrelin and leptin, that manage feelings of hunger. That’s why insomniacs tend to eat more and pile on the pounds – they’re not producing enough of those hormones. So not only does sex burn off calories – it helps you control your intake, too. Regular sex has been shown to cut the risk of prostate cancer, release endorphin – a natural painkiller that helps with everything from headaches to muscular pain – and even improve your sense of smell.


A good sex life will help build trust and intimacy when you’re in a relationship

Finally, when you’re in a relationship a good sex life will help build trust and intimacy between you. Lack of sex is one of the most common causes of relationship problems, but if you can keep each other happy in bed the chances of everything else going smoothly are increased.

There’s a lot of research confirming the benefits of a regular and active sex life, and some of those benefits are really significant – if scientists developed a pill that could halve your risk of a heart attack it would be the most famous miracle drug in the world (except maybe Viagra) but sex can do that. Men who have regular sex are less likely to be depressed, less likely to get cancer and more likely to be in great physical shape. It’s not as if you need an excuse to have sex, but now you have one anyway – it’s good for you!


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