The Hidden Health Benefits of Sex

“Having sex regularly can do more than make you feel closer to your partner—it can actually make you physically healthier,” says Hilda Hutcherson, M.D., a clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University and author of Pleasure: A Woman’s Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need, and Deserve. Check out a few of the surprising perks you can reap from great sex.healthy-sex_0

Less Stress

If you’re freaking out about tomorrow’s job interview, slip between the sheets. Research from the University of the West of Scotland reveals that people who had intercourse at least once over two weeks were better able to manage stressful situations such as public speaking, says study author and psychology professor Stuart Brody, Ph.D. That’s because endorphins and oxytocin are released during sex, and these feel-good hormones activate pleasure centers in the brain that create feelings of intimacy and relaxation and help stave off anxiety and depression, says WH advisor Laura Berman, Ph.D., an assistant clinical professor of ob-gyn and psychiatry at the Feinberg School of Medicine at Northwestern University and author of It’s Not Him, It’s You! You don’t have to climax to net the effects, but you’ll get the biggest surge of soothing hormones if you have an orgasm. Just one more reason to shoot for a stellar finish!

Sounder Sleep

It’s downright dreamy how an O can lull you to sleep. That’s because the same endorphins that help you de-stress can also relax your mind and body, priming you for slumber, says Cindy M. Meston, Ph.D., director of the Sexual Psychophysiology Laboratory at the University of Texas at Austin and coauthor of Why Women Have Sex. Plus, during orgasm, the hormone prolactin is released. “Prolactin levels are naturally higher when we sleep, which suggests a strong relationship between the two,” she says. But if you’re wild in the sack, take note: Highly active sex can make you feel more energized than sleepy. Sex should never be a snooze, but if you want to use knocking boots as a sleep aid, skip the acrobatics and opt for a subdued session.

Minimized Pain

Talk about flipping the script: “Yes, tonight, honey—I have a headache.” The surge of hormones released after an orgasm can help ease any annoying ache, whether it’s a strained back or a head pounder, says Meston. A study conducted at the Headache Clinic at Southern Illinois University found that half of female migraine sufferers reported relief after climaxing. “The endorphins that are released during an orgasm closely resemble morphine, and they effectively relieve pain,” says Meston. Have a migraine but your man isn’t around? Self-medicate by treating yourself with some solo sex. As long as you hit your peak, masturbating will have the same soothing effect.

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