Take Two and Call Me In the Morning - Not Aspirin, But Sex
In the past this column focused on wellness, exercise, and mental health. In this issue I will devote my discussion to the benefits of having intimacy with your partner. Who would ever imagine that an activity that is so much fun could be so beneficial to your health.
Sexual intimacy is a form of exercise. Each time that you engage in the sex act you burn approximately 100 calories. Of course, if you have sex like Lady Chatterly's Lover, then it's a lot more. Now 100 calories a pop doesn't sound like much, but if you engage in sex 2-3 times a week, that's 5000-7500 calories a year. That's equivalent to the energy required to jog from New Orleans to Mobile, Alabama.
In addition to the aerobic work out of huffing and puffing and increasing your heart rate, sexual activity provides resistance training. This is the contraction of the muscles of the back, pelvis, and extremities against passive resistance.
Another advantage of regular sex is that it can actually lower your total cholesterol level, and increase the high-density lipoproteins (HDL) or the good cholesterol. So if you indulge yourself in an extra steak with butter, indulge yourself in extra sex and you'll be calorically even.
Sex also jump-starts your hormones. Men can have a surge of testosterone during sex. Testosterone is the hormone produced in the testicles that is responsible for libido or sex drive, muscle mass, and strength of bones. Regular sex increases the level of estrogen in women which results in an increase in the blood supply to the vagina keeping the vaginal tissues young, supple and moist. There is even evidence that sex prior to or at the time of the menstrual period may relieve the symptoms of premenstrual syndrome (PMS). There are other studies that suggests that oxytocin, a hormone secreted by the pituitary gland during sexual intimacy, contributes to long-term bonding between partners.
Sexual intimacy also results in the release of endorphins which is the ultimate painkiller or analgesic. Endorphins are many times more potent that morphine, the most powerful man-made analgesic in use for the relief of pain. So the next time you have a headache, don't turn down sex but turn on and your relief is just a ? away. There's even a scientific explanation for the relief of headache pain with sex. During sex there is an increase in the blood supply to the muscles and the genital organs. As a result there is a decrease in the blood supply to the brain thus taking the pressure off of the tension in the brain.
For men, sexual intimacy is protective for the prostate. Prostate infections and prostate enlargement, which begins after the age of 50 in most men, results in compression of the urethra, the tube in the penis that allows transmission of urine from the bladder to the outside of the body. As a result men complain of difficulty with urination. For dozens of years, older men have gone to the doctor to have their prostate gland massaged to express the retained secretions that produce many of the symptoms of prostate disease. For most men this is uncomfortable and expensive if you don't have Medicare or insurance to pay for the doctor's visit. One inexpensive and fun way to relieve these symptoms produced by an enlarged prostate gland is to engage in sexual intimacy either through intercourse or even masturbation. Both will produce prostate pleasing results. So if you want to be good to your prostate gland, be good to your significant other....in bed.
Sex is good for stress. Never let the sun set on an argument. Having sex is an effective method of reducing the tensions that exist between partners. You can't be arguing when you are having good sex.
So for those of you who are not interested in going to the YMCA or a health club, you can have the benefits of a health club not in your own back yard but in your bedroom. There are naysayers that say this is fooey. For those of you who need more motivation, give me a call and I'll write you a prescription!
Reprinted with permission from Dialog Medical, dialogmedical.com and Neil Baum, MD, neilbaum.com.
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