Sexual health function of overall well-being
Megan Plete Postol
Regular sex sessions can have a flood of positive health effects, such as improving heart health, reducing stress and depression, and improving the quality of sleep.
In other words, better sex equate to better health.
Numerous studies have been conducted to examine the relationship between sexual health and sexual activity and overall physical health.
“As we know, there can be negative impacts of sexual activity on physical health, which can include sexually transmitted infections and unplanned or undesired pregnancies. Yet, there are other studies and numerous individual reports that suggest both masturbation (solo sex) and partnered sex may enhance our well-being by fostering happiness, enhancing immunity and longevity, decreasing pain and thus be a natural pain management activity, and keeping us looking and feeling younger than our counterparts who do not engage in pleasurable sexual activity,” Amanda Pasciucco, a certified sex therapist.
Some studies suggest sexual activity may be associated with reducing the risk of the two leading causes of death in the United States, which are heart disease and cancer.
“Prioritize sexual health,” Pasciucco said. “Be aware that your blood pressure, stress, mood, and sense of passion may be connected to you feeling erotic energy for yourself and or others.”
Orgasm is a strong stress reliever, but it can be hard to get in the mood while tense. Try relaxing activities such as massage or a bubble bath before (or as part of) foreplay.
Sex activates a variety of neurotransmitters that impact the brain and several other organs throughout the entire body.
Dopamine is a neurotransmitter that the human brain produces to nudge the body into doing things (such as having sex.) Boost dopamine by engaging in creative activities (such as painting or music), getting plenty of sleep and sunshine, eating healthy foods like avocado, eggs, and fish, exercising, and by spending time with loved ones.
Pasciucco suggests some signs and symptoms that could indicate that there is an issue with sexual health.
“For those with vulvas, if your body cannot lubricate after 30 minutes, there may be an issue,” she said. “If your clitoral glands or labia are atrophied, there may be an issue. For those with penises, if you do not have morning erections, if you cannot ejaculate in the way you would like, or if you have performance anxiety, there may be an issue. Similarly, be mindful of STIs and check with your doctor after adding new sexual partners.”
As people age, a robust sex life is especially important for overall physical wellness.
A study with a 10-year follow-up was conducted in Caerphilly, South Wales, to examine the relationship between frequency of orgasm and mortality, Pasciucco shared.
From 1979 to 1983, 918 men aged 45-59 were recruited for the study. The men were given a physical examination, including a medical history, and blood pressure, electrocardiogram, and cholesterol screenings. They were also asked about their frequency of orgasm.
At the 10-year follow-up, it was found the mortality risk was 50% lower among men who had frequent orgasms (defined in this study as two or more per week) than among men who had orgasms less than once a month. Even when controlling for other factors such as age, social class, and smoking status, a strong and statistically significant inverse relationship was found between orgasm frequency and risk of death.
The authors of this study concluded that, “sexual activity seems to have a protective effect on men’s health.”
It’s clear that maintaining an active sex life is vital to staying vibrant, and Pasciucco stresses this.
“Sexuality and pleasure is a human birth right,” Pasciucco said. “The lens that we are exposed to daily in the media is designed to alienate, control, and hinder the connection with our pleasure and our love of our bodies. Reclaiming our bodies, and our pleasure, specifically in sexuality, is in direct opposition to ‘the system,’ and therefore, an act of resistance!”