Specialist in s*xual health at the Spire Liverpool Hospital, Dr. Arun Ghosh, notes that s*x relaxes the muscles and alleviates neck and shoulder tension.
“Surprisingly, s*x might also tell you whether you need glasses,” he claims.
“I’ve had patients complain of poor vision after s*x. What’s happened is that, like all the other muscles in the body, their eye muscles have relaxed and are performing at their true ability, rather than straining and squinting as they would normally.
“So, if your sight goes blurry after s*x, it’s worth going for an eye test,” Ghosh counsels.
‘Researchers found men who kept up a regular s*x life in their 50s – ejaculating more than ten times a month – were at a lower risk of prostate cancer’
Still, it’s important to note the study was on rats and we still don’t know if neurogenesis happens as significantly in humans, says Dr Simon Ridley, of the Alzheimer’s Research Council.
‘Plus, any improvements in brain power were lost once the animals’ s*xual activity stopped, so we can’t assume any benefits to their brains will be long-term.’
Though the study showed the new cells remained, ‘there’s as yet still no compelling evidence to support the idea that regular s*x can help stave off dementia or cognitive decline in humans’, adds Dr Ridley.
However, there is no doubt that s*x provides a substantial workout to women’s pelvic floor muscles. As Andrew Hextall, a consultant who specializes in genitourinary medicine at Spire Bushey Hospital, London, explains, a stronger pelvic floor can help reduce the risk of prolapse of the womb, which affects half of women over 50.
And a stronger pelvic floor also reduces the risk of stress incontinence, which affects one in four women over 40.
‘During intercourse, the muscles in a woman’s pelvic floor naturally contract and squeeze,’ says Mr Hextall. ‘This increases muscle tone in the area, as the pelvic floor is like any other muscle, it responds to use by getting stronger.’
Even if your s*x sessions only last a short time it’s likely you would still get the effects, he says.
‘The recommendation for exercises to strengthen the pelvic floor are to squeeze the pelvic floor only eight times at any one time,’ he explains. ‘It’s likely that during s*x you will be contracting your pelvic floor at least that many times, so there’s no need for prolonged s*x sessions to get these benefits.’
IT LOWERS MEN’S CANCER RISK
The good news for men – for older men, anyway – is that regular s*x may be linked to a lower risk of prostate cancer, according to a study from Nottingham University.
The researchers, who questioned 840 men about their s*xual histories, found those who kept up a regular s*x life in their 50s – ejaculating more than ten times a month – were at a lower risk of prostate cancer, the most common form of cancer in British men. One theory is that if men don’t clear the sperm, it can be re-absorbed by the prostate gland.
Men who kept up a regular s*x life in their 50s were at a lower risk of prostate cancer.
‘Sperm needs to be regularly flushed out to allow new cells to develop. It’s a bit like cleaning out a pipe, it may help stop the build-up of old cells that might be more likely to turn cancerous,’ says Dr Ghosh.
A . study from the National Cancer Institute in the U.S. of more than 29,000 men found that those having the most orgasms had a third lower risk of prostate cancer.
However, the Nottingham University research, which was published in 2009 in The British Journal of Urology International, also found that ejaculating more than 20 times a month in their 20s and 30s could increase prostate cancer risk later in life. This is possibly because higher levels of s*x hormones in some men, which may be responsible for a high s*x drive, may also be linked to the development of prostate cancer later.
IT’S EVEN GOOD FOR HEADACHES
S*x may also have a positive effect on emotional well-being.
A study published in the Archives of s*xual Behaviour found young women felt more depressed the longer they hadn’t had s*x.
One theory is that vaginal absorption of hormones in semen such as prostaglandins, testosterone and luteinizing hormone could help improve the mood of women, says Stuart Brody, professor of psychology specialising in s*xual behaviour at the University of the West of Scotland. climax also releases feel-good brain chemicals such as serotonin, adds Dr Ghosh.
‘Routinely now, when our patients – male or female – are diagnosed with depression or anxiety we encourage them to maintain their s*x lives because it’s so beneficial for mental well-being’.
Research by Professor Brody and his team has confirmed that s*x is a stress reliever.
They studied a group of German adults and found those who had s*x at least once over two weeks were better able to manage the stress of public speaking and recorded lower blood pressure in response to stressful situations.
Meanwhile, in women, climax might help a headache, killing the age-old excuse for abstaining.
‘climax is associated with an upsurge of blood flow from the brain which could reduce headache,’ says Dr Ghosh.
One study of 83 women with migraine found that more than half experienced relief after climax. The research, published in the journal Headache in 2001, found that 30 per cent reported some pain relief while 17.5 per cent said it had in the past relieved their symptoms altogether. climax is also associated with a surge of the chemical oxytocin in men and women. This is often called the ‘bonding’ hormone because it induces feelings of fondness and affection.
‘Anthropological research has found that for humans, quite aside from the pleasure we glean from s*x, one of the main drivers behind our need for s*xual activity is to bond with other humans,’ says Dr Ghosh.
Last week, researchers found that oxytocin may help sustain feelings of love and commitment in long-term relationships.
The study gave 40 men oxytocin, then showed them pictures – one of their partners and one of a woman they’d never met.
Brain scans showed in the majority of the men the brain’s reward systems lit up when they saw their partner’s picture.
‘Regular s*x stimulates the brain’s pleasure and reward system through the release of chemicals such as oxytocin and dopamine,’ Dr Ghosh explains. ‘It’s one thing that keeps us going back to our partners for more.’
YOU HAVE TO KEEP GOING FOR 30 MINUTES
Dr Jackson says s*x could form a part of an overall, varied exercise regimen – if you can make it last long enough. For most long-married couples, s*x sessions last around 15 minutes rather than the 30 minutes achieved by the couples in the Canadian study.
‘One study of 83 women with migraine found that more than half experienced relief after climax’
he peak moments can lead to an increase in heart rate of around ten beats per minute and sometimes more, he explains.
Foreplay is equivalent in activity terms to running for a bus. ‘A typical game of tennis or squash is around 40 minutes of sustained cardiovascular activity, so to compare these to s*x in fitness benefits you would need to perform your peak periods of s*x for around the same amount of time,’ says Dr Jackson.
If you last 30 to 40 minutes ‘quite vigorously’, ‘you could get a good cardiovascular workout during s*x’. But a paper in the New England Journal of Medicine last year concluded the average bout of s*xual activity was only six minutes, expending about 21 calories. ‘s*xual activity is meant to compliment other more sustained forms of exercise,’ says Dr Jackson. ‘You can’t say, “I have s*x, I won’t exercise”.’