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You know S£X feels good and does wonders for your mood, but did you know that it benefits your health (his too!) in a number of not-so-obvious ways? The reason, according to scientists, is that during S£X, our bodies produce a cascade of hormones (and other biological changes) that can ease pain, lower cancer risk, boost immunity, and even offset menopausal symptoms. Taking care of your health has never been so much fun.
1. It reduces chronic pain: Next time you have a headache, just say yes. Stimμlation of your cl!toris and vag!nal walls triggers the release of endorphins, corticosteroids, and other natural painkillers. As a result, you’ll feel less pain from headaches and sore muscles during s’εx. The benefit, which begins before you 0’rgasm, can linger for up to 2 days, says Barry Komisaruk, PhD, a Rutgers University psychology professor. In his research, he found that women could withstand painful pressure to their fingers while they were stimμlated with s’εx toys; during orgasm, pain tolerance doubled. And self-stimulation through the front wall of the vagina, where some find their G-spot, increases pain tolerance and pain detection thresholds by up to 50%, reports Komisaruk.
2. It lowers breast cancer risk: During aroμsal and orgasm, your levels of “happiness” hormones rise. Two of these—oxytocin and DHEA—may help keep brεasts cancer free. One study showed that women who have s’εx more than once a month have a lower risk of developing brεast cancer than those who are less sεxμally active. And Greek researchers found that men who had at least seven 0’rgasms a month in their 50s had a significantly lower chance of developing male brεast cancer.
3. It gives your heart a workout: Cardiologists rank intεrcoμrse as a mild-to-moderate-intensity exercise that enhances heart health as well as brisk walking does. As with any workout, the more vigorous you are, the more your heart benefits. The s’εx positions you try matter too; being on T0P is especially cardiac-friendly because it usually requires more effort. 0’rgasm delivers a bonus: At your peak moment, your heart rate may hit 110 beats per minute, comparable to what you might achieve when walking quickly or jogging.
4. It protects his prostatε: Catholic priests have an elevated chance of dying of prostatε cancer, and studies point to celibacy as a factor. In 2003, research on middle-aged Australian men found that those who averaged at least four εjacμlations a week had a one-third lower chance of developing prostatε cancer than those who had fewer. “When you drain the pipes, as it were, you have less clogging,” says Irwin Goldstein, MD, head of sεxμal medicine at Alvarado Hospital. Though the results of the study were clear, the reasons they occurred were not, says Goldstein, who calls for more research.
5. It lowers stress: Got a big presentation coming up at work? One study found that men and women who had engaged in intεrcoμrse in the 2 weeks before a stressful day had an easier time while doing public speaking and some verbal arithmetic. During their presentations, their systolic blood pressure (the first number in a blood pressure reading) increased less and then dropped back to its normal level at a faster rate than that of people who had no sεxμal relations or had other forms of s’εx, including noncoital interactions or mastμrbat!on. One theory about why this occurs is that intεrcoμrse requires more complex brain activity; another idea is that it stimulates a number of important nerves not triggered during other sεxμal activity.
6. It revs up your immune system: Research from Wilkes University showed that college students who engaged in s’εx once or twice a week had 30% higher levels of infection-fighting antibodies than did their abstinent classmates. In 2004, German scientists produced similar results: Blood tests showed that aroμsal and 0’rgasm in men increased levels of certain pathogen-fighting white blood cells. The effect is comparable to that of other stress-busting activities, such as exercise and listening to music, which also boost secretion of certain proteins that defend the body against infection.
7. It defeats menopausal dryness: Scientists in New Jersey found that postmenopausal women who had sεxμal relations more than 10 times a year had less evidence of vag!nal atrophy than those who reported less frequent s’εx. That’s a sign of healthy tissues, says Sandra Leiblum, PhD, a New Jersey s’εx therapist who helped conduct the study. Aroμsal brings blood to the vag!na, which delivers nutrients and oxygen. Keep using this part of your body, and you’ll help prevent the tissue from becoming thinner and less elastic as you age, so intεrcoμrse can remain comfortable and plεasμrable.
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