Healthy sex does more than just put a smile on your face, according to several recent studies. Physical intimacy with your partner also reduces stress, increases the likelihood you’ll maintain healthy habits and decreases unhealthy behaviors, and boosts your brain power. Here’s what the science says.
The research links regular sexual activity to healthier brain cells and lower levels of stress hormones.
A 2010 study demonstrated that sexually active male lab rats were less anxious than their “virgin” peers. Researchers measured the blood levels of stress hormones like cortisol to determine anxiety levels, and those subjects whose access to female companionship was restricted showed higher blood levels of cortisol and increased anxious behavior.
When scientists studied the brains of these rats they could see a significant difference. The sexually satisfied rats had more growing brain cells, while those deprived of sex showed a decrease in healthy, growing brain cells when compared to their peers. Why is that important? Growing brain cells are essential for adult brains to continue learning and building memories. These same structures are also very susceptible to shrinking when exposed to stress hormones for long periods of time. So, not only does sex dissipate stress hormones, it protects those parts of the brain needed to stay sharp, and provides them with the biochemical bath they need to continue to grow stronger connections.
The research links regular sexual activity to healthier brain cells and lower levels of stress hormones. These two factors combined provide you with improved memory and cognitive function, lower levels of anxiety, and a reduction in cortisol, the stress hormone responsible for extra belly fat storage.
In a study of 22,000 human adults and their sexual behavior, researchers found that both men and women who reported being sexual active were more likely to exercise, take less medication, and are more satisfied with life and their mental well-being than people who are less sexually active. Conversely, a lack of sexual activity was associated with a higher reported incidence of aches and pains, alcohol misuse, and GI discomfort.
With this data in mind, you may feel you need a regular romp for your health. Just bear in mind that these results did not assess the impact of frequently changing sex partners. Safe sex -and sometimes no sex – is still better for you than risky behavior. Whenever you’re with a new partner, wear condoms to protect against STDs!