May 8, 2011

Top Eight Health Benefits of Physical Intimacy

As promised, I will summarize some of Dr. Diana Hoppe’s comments from her book “Healthy Sex Drive, Healthy You”. I hope they will help you get in the mood and ready for an enjoyable sex life.
1.       Sex promotes longevity – According to Dr. David Weeks, a clinical neuropsychologist and author of “Secrets of the Superyoung”, sex actually slows the aging process. He studied 3.500 people ranging in age from 18 to 102. The results? Those individuals who engaged in sex on a regular basis appeared to be much younger than their chronological age. They had fewer wrinkles, stood taller with better posture, had better tone to their skin color, and seemed to have a more youthful and lighthearted general attitude and demeanor. One reason may be related to the importance of touch. Through caressing, hugging, stroking and cuddling, the body releases a chain reaction of chemicals that sends a signal to your brain that what you are experiencing is pleasurable, nurturing and good.
2.       Sex eases depression and alleviates stress. According to Jennifer Bass, at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender and Reproduction, “The release from orgasm does much towards calming people. It helps with sleep, and that is whether we talk about solo sex or sex with a partner.” Many studies also show that sleep may be deeper and more restful after engaging in satisfying sexual intercourse because it allows the release of distracting thoughts and negative thinking behaviors. Engaging in sex prior to falling asleep at night also decreases the incidence of insomnia. Believe it or not, male semen can also alleviate depression! Components found in a man’s ejaculate may actually have healing qualities and may act as antidepressants.
3.       Sex boosts the immune system. Healthy sex increases the body’s natural production of antibodies, specifically levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), which are the first line of defense in helping to fight against widespread infectious diseases such as flu and cold viruses. It is interesting to note here that sex has added benefits for men: it increases the flow of testosterone, which strengthens bones and muscles and helps transport DHEA, a hormone important in the function of the body’s immune system. During orgasm, the level of DHEA in the bloodstream increases to five times its normal circulating level. DHEA also improves cognition, promotes bone growth, maintains and repairs tissues, and helps to keep your skin healthy and supple.
4.       Sex improves brain health. With any form of exercise—and let’s face it, sex is a form of exercise—blood flow increases. This increased circulation of blood transports oxygen-enriched blood to the hypothalamus, the center of the brain for memory and learning. Thus, memory and brain function may be increased with sexual activity.
5.       Sex preserves vaginal health. “Use it or lose it” is literally true. In women, sex increases blood flow to the vagina, keeping the vaginal tissues more supple and lubricated—all of which can lead to less pain with intercourse as we age.
6.       Sex is healthy for the body. We all know that exercise is good for health. It wards off illness and disease, increases our strength and stamina, and keeps us fit. Of course, the number of calories burned during sex is determined somewhat by the duration and frequency of your encounters. The pulse rate of a sexually excited individual increases from 70 to 150 beats per minute, which is comparable to the efforts of a weightlifter or a brisk walker. Just one incident of sexual intercourse burns the same amount of calories as running on a treadmill for 15 minutes!
7.       Sex assists in relieving pain. Orgasm can be a powerful painkiller. Oxytocin, the bonding hormone that is released before and during orgasm, calms and soothes the body. Prior to the culminating moment of an act of love, the brain emits three to five times the usual levels of oxytocin. The release of this hormone during sex also reduces the perception of pain. This has also been shown when women masturbate to orgasm. In addition, natural opiate-like hormones called endorphins are released during orgasm. In addition to decreasing pain, endorphins produce a spiritually elevating effect and positive perception of the environment.
8.       Sex heals physical and emotional wounds. Engaging in sexual activity with someone you love promotes healing on all levels. It fosters physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual connections, and gives us the intimate human contact we need. The release of oxytocin, for example, assists in the physical healing of wounds. Several experiments have shown that oxytocin, by regenerating certain cells, can even help heal stubborn skin sores, as seen in diabetics. Through intimate contact with a loving partner, emotional wounds may be healed and a closer connection with your partner can be achieved. Many people are fearful of truly loving or trusting another person. But doing so does promote deeper connections with others and also enhances sexual pleasure.

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