Nobody really needs a rationale for having sex. It feels good, and when you’re playing with a partner or partners, it helps bring two (or more) people together. Knowing that there are health benefits of sex is really just icing on the cake.
So, while you’re probably not thinking about your immune system when you’re grinding on a toy, inserting a butt plug, or riding your partner, knowing that sex is an immune-booster might be extra motivation for getting it on. The health benefits of sex are extensive, ranging from improved confidence to better sleep. Good health, in turn, offers a sexual benefit, so improving your overall well-being and having hot sex can form a virtuous cycle.
What exactly are those sexual benefits and health-boosters, you may wonder? Read on to find out!
Mental Health Sexual Benefits
After you’ve had an orgasm, you probably feel uniquely at ease. That’s because sex, whether solo play or partnered, offers tons of psychological and intangible perks. (Some of those perks don’t require an orgasm to be felt, so if you don’t always climax, never fear.)
In fact, one study suggests that older adults rate their quality of life higher if they have sex regularly. Really, for people of any age, sex can be FUN and a loving way of connecting with another person or oneself. Below are a few well-known examples of the psychological health benefits of sex.
Sex improves confidence, whether you’re masturbating or sleeping with a long-term partner. Solo sex teaches you what you like in bed, so you can demonstrate or tell a future partner—or just get yourself off more effectively next time. Knowing that you have the tools to make any sexual encounter a success should put some pep in your step.
If you’re getting busy with another person or people, then being desired by them can itself boost your confidence. Giving pleasure to another person is also a feel-good moment that helps you understand all you can do and how deeply a partner might appreciate it. What’s better than hearing a babe moan in your ear?
Reduces Stress and Anxiety
If you've ever luxuriated in the blissed-out post-orgasmic state, then you already understand intuitively that sex is a great stress-reliever. Research backs up what we know in our guts: A study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine suggests that, for women, being aroused can decrease stress levels.
For people of any gender or genital makeup, sex releases oxytocin (aka “the cuddle hormone”), which also reduces stress. Next time you’re feeling overworked or overwhelmed with the state of the world, relief can come as soon as you do!
As mentioned above, having sex and reaping sexual benefits can cause a virtuous cycle. For example, some evidence suggests that positive sexual experiences increase a person’s desire.
What goes into positive sexual experiences? The answer is different for each person, but some constants are taking enough time and incorporating variety. For couples’ play, consent, communication, and connection with your partner are all essential factors.
Physical Health Sexual Benefits
The pluses of a great sex life include far more than mental clarity and calm. (Although, those two are pretty important!) Sex not only feels good, but it’s also good for essential parts of the body, like your heart and immune system. Get into the details below.
Improves Overall Fitness
Though sex doesn’t offer the same workout as, say, a tennis match, it still counts as low-key exercise. One estimate says that sex burns about five calories per minute, which is hardly strenuous, but it’s still an improvement over sedentary life. Plus, it’s way more FUN than walking on a treadmill. Sex asks you to engage your muscles and to practice coordination, which are both key components of whole-body fitness. Get your reps in!
Boosts Immune System
Sex can help prevent you from getting sick. Some research indicates that women who regularly have sex enjoy greater immunity than abstinent women.
And the benefits are bigger than one gender or sex: Other research shows that people who have sex once or twice a week have higher levels of immunoglobulin A, an important antibody for preventing illness, in their bloodstream. Having more sex keeps your body in peak condition, which might stimulate your appetite for more sex!
Of course, if you’re already feeling sick, it’s best to wait until you recover before getting busy again, out of courtesy for your partner. Solo play is still on the menu if you’re feeling up for it, but remember to wash your toys thoroughly afterward with mild soap and warm water.
You already know about the sexual importance of sleep—as in, when you’re fatigued, it’s hard to get in the mood. But did you know that sex makes it easier for you to get a solid night of Zs?
Research in Frontiers in Public Health suggests that having an orgasm, whether from masturbation or partnered sex, improves sleep quality and shortens the time it takes to fall asleep. In turn, getting enough sleep can boost libido. That’s more than enough reason to stop counting sheep and start charging your toys. If you wake up well-rested, morning sex might seem appealing, too!
Sex relieves pain in all sorts of ways. For one, it releases endorphins, feel-good hormones that naturally diminish pain. For another, sex improves your mood in other ways, as discussed above, and ameliorates pain in that way.
The health benefits of sex may be especially meaningful for people with arthritis. By strengthening muscles around your joints, sex can help support them, reducing arthritic discomfort. This perk of an active sex life is all the more reason why seniors should maintain an active sex life if they want to!
Finally, sex has pain-reducing effects for women. One researcher found that, in her subjects, pressure on the G-spot elevated pain thresholds by over 47%, and pleasurable stimulation increased it by over 80%. Best of all was orgasm. When women had orgasms, their pain thresholds went up by more than 108%!
Helps Prevent Heart Disease
When sex—solo or partnered—gets your blood pumping, you may worry that it causes an increased risk of heart attack. Luckily, sex seems to have the opposite effect on heart health. As mentioned above, sex is a gentle form of exercise, so it can strengthen your heart and lower your blood pressure, both of which reduce the risk of heart attacks. There’s no guarantee that having great sex will save your life, but why chance it?
Some of the other health benefits of sex affect the heart indirectly. For example, getting better sleep and experiencing less stress—both of which are fringe benefits of sex—can protect your heart against disease and dysfunction.
Benefits of Sex for Men
Reduces the Risk of Prostate Cancer
Whether you’re by yourself or playing with a partner, you can help yourself to the same prostate-protecting benefits. All you have to do is orgasm: A 2016 study suggests that, when compared to a baseline of ejaculating four to seven times per month, ejaculating 20-plus times per month was associated with a 20% reduction in the risk of prostate cancer.
The key may be evacuating problematic compounds from the prostate before they can do any damage. More research needs to be done, but if you can serve your health in a way that feels good, it’s worth a try!
If you’re not trying to conceive, then your fertility may be of minimal sexual importance, but if you are trying to conceive, then it’s critical. Luckily, you have some control over your fertility, and the key may be—you guessed it—ejaculation.
In a study of 118 men, ejaculating daily for seven days led to a significant increase in the undamaged sperm they released. Obviously, undamaged sperm is more likely to fertilize an egg than damaged sperm. The doctor behind the study suggests that couples trying to conceive have sex daily for up to seven days before the vulva owner’s ovulation date. Though, if you’re both into it, you may want to have sex every day until you get a positive pregnancy test!
Benefits of Sex for Women
May Strengthen the Pelvic Floor
You’ve probably heard that having a strong pelvic floor improves sex. But you might not know that, at the same time, sex can actually improve the health of your pelvic floor! In improving blood flow to the muscles, tissues, and nerves of the pelvic floor, sex supports its healthy functioning. Wearing Kegel balls can also help the pelvic floor, and they make spanking feel extra great.
May Delay Menopause
Though menopause, contrary to popular misconceptions, can actually be a sexy and exciting time in a person’s life, some individuals may want to postpone it, whether because they’re trying to conceive or because they’re comfortable with the way their bodies already are. Luckily for those people, increased sexual frequency seems to delay the onset of menopause.
In a 2020 study by the Royal Society, researchers found that women who had frequent sex had an older age of menopause onset than women who had sex infrequently. More specifically, women who had sex monthly had an older age of menopause onset than women who had sex less than once a month, and women who had sex weekly had the oldest age of menopause onset of all. If you’re looking to postpone menopause, then you may as well look to your bedroom!
Relieves Menstrual and Premenstrual Cramps
Of course, before menopause arrives, cis women have to contend with their menstrual periods and the annoying uterine cramps that often accompany them. Well, guess what? Sex can help to solve that problem, too. As mentioned above, sex releases the feel-good hormones called endorphins, which act as the body’s natural pain reliever. Sex can also be a FUN distraction from premenstrual cramps—as long as those cramps aren’t so intense that they distract from sex!
During your menstrual period, your uterus contracts to release its lining, which is why you feel cramps. Orgasm provokes a similar uterine contraction, plus a release, which adds up to much-needed relief from the pain. If you’re worried about the potential mess, then remember to use your darkest sheets and invest in a machine-washable mattress pad! Laying a towel on top of your bed can help as well.
How Important Is Sex in a Relationship?
As you may have guessed, the answer varies from person to person. Some people are asexual but not aromantic, and those people might enter relationships with the expectation of having little-to-no sex.
However, couples who do have sex feel more bonded to one another and, if they’re married, may be less likely to divorce. Ideally, it’s also a way for couples to have FUN together and make one another feel good.
Is It Healthy to Have Sex Every Day?
There is no ideal rate at which you should be having sex. If you and your partner(s) both crave sex every day, then it’s okay to do it every day! The only caveat is: You shouldn’t have so much sex that it takes away from other areas of your life. If you’re having so much sex that you're missing work deadlines or social engagements, then it might be worth reassessing. Also, be sure you’re not using sex to paper over problems in your relationship! Eventually, that strategy will most likely stop working.
Also, it goes without saying, but if your bits start chafing, you begin to experience pain, or you get a UTI, then it makes sense to pause the sex for a while and let your body recover. Otherwise, have all the consensual sex you want! Considering all the benefits explained above—and the pleasure it offers—it’s a worthwhile part of most adults’ lives.
All ideas included are for educational and entertainment value, and do not constitute medical advice.