Sex On The Menu: Go, Get Some!
- 5 Mins Read
- Written by: Jillian Lai Mei Siew
Sex and immunity. What’s the connection?
So, it turns out that sex does have a direct impact on our immune system and infection or germ-fighting ability. But wait there’s more to this. It can be both for good and for bad. Then what’s the good and the bad?
As per many reports and if we say, our minds, sex is really good for us. But, we all know that everything good comes with a risk. So, yeah having a lot of sex can be the opposite of helpful to us. Well, you know what bad could happen now, don’t you? It the sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) and also increased chances of getting HIV. The role of sex with the immune system and health is pretty subtle.
Reports suggest that our immune system gets the needed boost from sex and also has a positive impact on the sex drive and general day-to-day mood. People who do it regularly tend to take fewer sick days. In an interesting study, scientists were able to prove that compared to some college students who had sex less often, the ones who did it once or twice a week had higher levels of a certain antibody, which directly correlates to better immunity.
Well, that doesn’t mean that sex is the only thing you can do from now on. You still have to follow a healthy diet lifestyle and sleep well amongst many other things that keep you active, fit, and healthy.
How good and bad could sex be?
So, where’s the bad thing that we talked about? Well, it’s connected very well with the benefits that sex provides us but also with a subtle warning as we just mentioned. Let’s read those benefits + risks combined.
Keeps the heart-healthy
As mentioned earlier, having sex with a partner can give you good cardio and get that pulse racing and can be good for heart health, especially in women. Studies found out that women who engage in more sexual activity have a lower risk of heart complications later in their life. On the flip side, for men, having more sex could increase the risk of heart attacks and other complications.
As scientists still find out the whys, you should go consult your doctor about how much sex is safe and make sure you are specific about the intensity and regularity of the sex you’re having, as it may put an unnecessary strain on the heart. Don’t be shy about your health.
Reduced blood pressure
In the same study mentioned above, blood pressure measurements were also a part to check on heart health. Again, women (older) who expressed satisfaction with their sex lives were less likely to have any high blood pressure problems compared to men. But, with men, science says that high blood pressure affects both libido and the ability to maintain an erection. The reason why this is important is that people with high blood pressure may have safety concerns while doing sex.
Turns out it is usually safe to have sex for people even with the high blood pressure but make sure to have a regular chat about your health with your doctor. If some medications are bothering you having a good time, then talk with your physician if it’s possible to prescribe a different medication just to make sure there are no more interruptions.
Studies have revealed that having sex boosts the immune system and its ability to fight infections. But that’s nothing new to know right? Wait! there is something new here. Having regular sex raises the levels of a germ-fighting agent called Immunoglobulin A (IgA)4. But as always, more is not always better. Similar studies have also found that couples who had sex more than twice a week had lower IgA levels than those who had no sex at all. While these studies were carried out long ago, a newer study is awaited to show the actual effectiveness of sex boosting our immunity. In a more recent study, a group of women was studied to see if there are any differences between the ones who were sexually active and those who were not5. Well, the results revealed many potential differences between both the groups and also their immune power. But, a worthwhile conclusion is yet awaited.
Reduced risk of Prostate cancer
On a positive note, let’s start with this specific sex benefit. An older study suggested that men who ejaculated more showed a reduced risk of prostate cancer6. In recent times, the researchers extended the same study for an additional period of 10 years and found the same results.
Having sex is a natural way to get relieved of the mounting stress and has been proven through many studies which support the results. Scientists have revealed that being intimate with your partner causes a reduction in the levels of a chemical named cortisol8. This chemical circulates in our body in response to stress. Having sex helps bring the cortisol levels back to a normal range, in both men and women. Sex also triggers the release of oxytocin, endorphins, and other “feel-good” hormones, which potentiate this stress-relieving effect.
Recent studies and The National Sleep Foundation have suggested that sex induces hormonal benefits for providing quality and sound sleep9. In case you’re wondering how the chemical which is responsible for reducing stress i.e. cortisol and endorphins help you feel sleepy8. Additionally, after having an orgasm, a chemical named prolactin starts to circulate in our body which further induces feelings of satisfaction and relaxation.
In summary, it can be said that the potential benefits of having sex outweigh the risks that come with it. Nevertheless, it is essential to remember that indulging more in sexual activity without precautions and necessary protection can impact the overall health negatively. But don’t worry, after reading this piece you know what to be aware of. So, get your groove on and have fun, but responsibly!
- Liu, H., Waite, L. J., Shen, S., & Wang, D. H. (2016). Is sex good for your health? A national study on partnered sexuality and cardiovascular risk among older men and women. Journal of health and social behavior, 57(3), 276-296. https://dx.doi.org/10.1177%2F0022146516661597
- Brody, S. (2010). The relative health benefits of different sexual activities. The journal of sexual medicine, 7(4), 1336-1361. https://doi.org/10.1111/j.1743-6109.2009.01677.x
- Cheitlin, M. D. (2003). Sexual activity and cardiovascular disease. The American journal of cardiology, 92(9), 3-8. https://doi.org/10.1016/S0002-9149(02)03367-2
- Charnetski, C. J., & Brennan, F. X. (2004). Sexual frequency and salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA). Psychological Reports, 94(3), 839-844. https://doi.org/10.2466%2Fpr0.94.3.839-844
- Lorenz, T. K., Heiman, J. R., & Demas, G. E. (2018). Interactions among sexual activity, menstrual cycle phase, and immune function in healthy women. The Journal of Sex Research, 55(9), 1087-1095. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2017.1394961
- DeLamater, J. (2012). Sexual expression in later life: A review and synthesis. Journal of sex research, 49(2-3), 125-141. https://doi.org/10.1080/00224499.2011.603168
- Leitzmann, M. F., Platz, E. A., Stampfer, M. J., Willett, W. C., & Giovannucci, E. (2004). Ejaculation frequency and subsequent risk of prostate cancer. Jama, 291(13), 1578-1586. https://doi.org/10.1001/jama.291.13.1578
- Rider, J. R., Wilson, K. M., Sinnott, J. A., Kelly, R. S., Mucci, L. A., & Giovannucci, E. L. (2016). Ejaculation frequency and risk of prostate cancer: updated results with an additional decade of follow-up. European urology, 70(6), 974-982. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.eururo.2016.03.027
- Ditzen, B., Germann, J., Meuwly, N., Bradbury, T. N., Bodenmann, G., & Heinrichs, M. (2019). Intimacy as related to cortisol reactivity and recovery in couples undergoing psychosocial stress. Psychosomatic medicine, 81(1), 16-25. https://doi.org/10.1097/PSY.0000000000000633
- Krysiak, R., Drosdzol-Cop, A., Skrzypulec-Plinta, V., & Okopien, B. (2016). Sexual function and depressive symptoms in young women with elevated macroprolactin content: a pilot study. Endocrine, 53(1), 291-298. https://dx.doi.org/10.1007%2Fs12020-016-0898-5