SEX can help us live longer, healthier lives by boosting our immunity, lowering blood pressure and reducing the risk of certain cancers.
But the benefits of a satisfying love life do not have to involve a partner – you can still get some of the health perks when satisfied solo.
Here men’s health doctor Dr Jeff Foster and psychotherapist Lucy Beresford reveal ten reasons why sex is more than just a feel-good sensation and is essential for our long-term wellbeing.
RESEARCH published in academic journal Psychological Reports showed that people who had sex twice a week had a 30 per cent increase in an antibody called IgA.
It helps fight off infection and more of it means your body is better at fighting infection
Dr Jeff said: “Sex improves antibody levels, which improves your immune system and can reduce severity of a virus.”
A MAN who abstains for three to four weeks will have an increased libido.
But keep going for up to 12 weeks and testosterone levels start to drop.
Dr Jeff said: “It’s definitely a case of use it or lose it.
Sex is self-fulfilling, increasing happy hormones, increasing blood flow, wellbeing and testosterone, and because of that, you want to do it all again.”
STUDIES have shown that people who are sexually active have fewer bouts of depression and anxiety and are able to manage daily stress better.
Dr Jeff said: “So even if your work is particularly stressful or your family life leaves you stressed out, simply being more sexually active can reduce those aspects.”
THE benefits of sex don’t disappear with age.
They can last a lifetime and in fact after 40 sex has greater benefits.
Sexually active men have a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
Dr Jeff said: “The advice is to ejaculate about three times a week.
“But there isn’t a fixed number, so the more you have sex, the less the risk of prostate cancer – just do it as much as you can.”
THE average UK couple have penetrative sex for between three and five minutes.
This isn’t enough to count as your daily exercise but does have benefits.
Lucy said: “It is good for you in the way yoga is good for you – in terms of flexibility, stretching and holding poses.
“And also in the way sex enables us to stay connected with our bodies, to stay in tune with what your body wants and what the body needs.”
THE spike in testosterone production during sex can lower blood pressure, while serotonin, endorphins and phenylethylamine hormones are also released during sex, which in turn can lower stress levels.
Dr Jeff said: “It benefits us for several reasons involving hormones and blood flow but the psychological effect is that if you are more relaxed you tend not to be so stressed, and your blood pressure goes down.”
A LACK of libido can be a sign our hormones are flagging – and if it is no longer possible to get an erection, it is a sign there may be a problem with heart health.
Dr Jeff said: “A lack of testosterone for men and oestrogen and progesterone for women going through the menopause can scupper libidos.
“And erectile dysfunction can be a sign of bad blood flow and a problem with the heart – it is really important to get that checked out.
“Sex can be a very useful warning flag.”
YOU don’t need to worry about losing your libido as you age.
Dr Jeff says sex is a “lifelong process” and that our bodies are equipped for it until we die.
He added: “Even if you’re just practising by yourself, you can still have the benefits to your mind and body – your brain doesn’t know if there’s another person attached to the other end of your penis or vagina or not.”
Lucy adds: “I wish everybody would masturbate every day.
“I think it would reduce stress levels and help us live longer.”
INCREASING happy hormones in your body can help improve tolerance of pain, according to Dr Jeff.
He adds: “And if you’ve got good sexual function, your happy hormones go up and that helps you ease general pain.
“Doctors tend to give anti- depressants to patients with chronic pain syndrome not because they are depressed but because of the effects of the anti-depressant.”
IT is a myth that men are the ones who fall asleep after sex – because dopamine, the hormone released after orgasm, actually makes both sexes sleepy.
Dr Jeff said: “It’s not the sexual activity that makes you tired – it’s the hormone that makes you suddenly feel very relaxed. It really does improve sleep in everyone.”
TRIED AND TESTED
SCHOOL holidays mean a lot of expense for parents.
Just covering the basics can be stressful, so one way to cut costs on healthy extras is to double up and use the same items for both adults and children.
Several firms have cottoned on to this idea and on the right Jane Atkinson puts some of the latest products to the test . . .
THE UK baby and child toiletry brand Childs Farm has brought out a sensitive skin care range for the whole family that is designed to be shared.
It includes body lotions, washes, oils, bubble baths and moisturisers, all specially designed for sensitive skin and fragranced with the natural essential oils and extracts of organic orange, coconut and fig.
I tried the fig range and the scent was amazing – it smelt similar to upmarket French brand Diptyque’s amazing perfume.
No need for two bulky bottles of body wash in the shower and a little goes a really long way as it turns into a cream on your body.
It didn’t dry out sensitive, eczema prone skin either. Will definitely buy again.
- Organic fig body wash, 250ml, RRP £5.50
GETTING kids to down healthy drinks can be tricky – but the Jamu Wild Water ones were a winner in our house for both kids and adults.
They contain botanicals and plant fibre, which is a pre-biotic that helps to maintain gut health.
They also contain 38 per cent of the recommended daily allowance for vitamin C and zinc for kids up to age 11, which helps support the immune system, and 25 per cent of the RDA for fibre, which is good for gut health.
There are no preservatives and no added sugar or artificial sweeteners to worry about – but the drinks come in three delicious flavours.
We loved the Sparkling Raspberry, Elderberry & Mallow which has an amazing but subtle flavour.
I now have some of these drinks held back in reserve – for when I am trying to hydrate a grumpy three-year-old child and for when I want a drink that also tastes very grown up when served in a wine glass.
Ten per cent of all profit from sales from the drinks goes to charity. They pack 18kcal per 250ml can and cost £20 for a case of 12 cans.
KOOKY is a British brand of healthy, 100-per-cent natural fruit snacks.
It has taken banana, jackfruit, mango and mangosteen and dried them to produce bags of snacks.
They are sustainably sourced from farms in Thailand and dried using solar energy.
Each packet contains one of your five a day. I tried the freeze-dried mangosteen – you get three delicious balls in the 12g bag.
Tangy but sweet.
They contain 45kcal per pack, with less than one per cent fat but 76.9-per-cent sugar.
It’s just a shame about the price – from £1.99 per pack.