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This article was published 13/2/2011 (3464 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Perhaps Marvin Gaye had the right idea when he declared musically his need for sexual healing.
It turns out that (safe) sex (in a monogamous relationship) can do your body good, according to scientists who study the effects of sex and health. According to research, sex can release a series of hormones that do everything from relieve pain to help stave off cardiovascular disease.
In the mood for love this Valentine's Day?
Even though you probably don't need an excuse to get romantic, here are a few studies that document the health benefits of sex:
Turn back the clock
Having sex three times a week can make you look nearly a decade younger, says research out of Scotland's Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Neuropsychologist Dr. David Weeks studied 3,500 American and European volunteers between the ages of 18 and 102 found that their youthful looks were only 25 per cent due to genetics. The rest was related to behaviour, including sexual behaviour, says the research. Weeks, author of Secrets of the Super Young, attributes the anti-aging properties of sex to dopamine and human growth hormone -- powerful substances released during the act that are thought to slow the aging process.
Lower blood pressure
A Brigham Young University study published in a 2008 edition of the Annals of Behavioural Medicine found that happily married people had lower blood pressure than singles -- and even lower blood pressure, yet, than unhappily married people. More than 300 study participants wore devices for 24 hours that randomly recorded their blood-pressure readings. Those who were married filled out a questionnaire about their marriages. The study concluded that even singles with strong social networks did not fare as well with blood pressure than the happily married study subjects. While this study isn't directly related to sex, it suggests that happy, close love relationships can be good for heart health.
Scientists at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania say sex can boost your immunity -- specifically, raise your levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), an antibody that can prevent the cold and flu. The Wilkes researchers asked more than 100 undergrads how many times they had sex in the previous month. They also measured the amounts of IgA in the subjects' saliva. The results? Those who had sex once or twice weekly had 30 per cent more IgA in their saliva than their counterparts who did the deed less than once a week.
Research out of the University of Albany suggests that women who have sex without condoms are less depressed than women who do use condoms. In the 2002 study, 300 women filled out anonymous questionnaires that determined elements of their sexual behaviour. Respondents also completed the Beck Depression Inventory (BDI), commonly-used to measure a person's depressive symptoms. The women in the study who engaged in sexual intercourse but who didn't use condoms had lower BDI scores, indicating they were less depressed. Scientists say semen contains mood-altering chemicals such as testosterone, estrogen and prolactin. Scientists believe these chemicals can elevate mood when absorbed vaginally. However, lead researcher of the Albany study, Prof. Gordon Gallup, has an important message. "Regardless of the findings, this study does not advocate that people abstain from using condoms," said Gallup in a news release. "Protecting oneself from an unwanted pregnancy or a sexually transmitted disease is far more important."
A study of nearly 1,000 middle-aged men published in a 1997 edition of the British Medical Journal tracked the relationship between orgasms and mortality. Researchers of the 10-year study found that mortality rate dropped by 50 per cent in the men with "high orgasmic frequency" compared to men who had less orgasms. The conclusion: "Sexual activity seems to have a protective effect on men's health."
A 2001 issue of the journal Headache contains the results of a survey that questioned woman about whether they ever had sex while experiencing a migraine headache. Of the 57 who had engaged in sex with a migraine, 30 per cent reported some relief from their headaches after sex. Meanwhile another 17.5 per cent ended up completely pain free. Only 5.3 per cent of respondents noticed worsening headache symptoms after sex.
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