Relieves pain and strengthens the immune system: the health benefits of sex

Sex is a pleasurable experience, whether it is experienced alone or shared with another person, especially if we are deeply attracted to them or if we are held together by a meaningful bond. It can also become an extraordinary form of communication, through which to transmit complex feelings and strengthen the relationship.

Since it is also a fundamental dimension of life, much has been written about how and when it would be best to dedicate time to it. However, the really true thing is that there are no universal answers to this question: it almost always depends on each individual, the couple and the context. The only truth is that it requires consensus between the parties, who must feel comfortable and satisfied in their mutual expectations.

What there is a lot of evidence about is the physical and psychological benefits that sex brings. Respecting that each person is unique in their needs and values, below we will detail what it can give us when practiced with the frequency that we consider desirable.

Improves mood

When having sex the brain produces endorphins; substances that generate excitement, satisfaction and well-being. They are also involved in the euphoria and calm that precedes and follows orgasm, respectively. Thus, they are embedded in the reward response that we experience when feeling different forms of pleasure.

Although it makes us feel good, it cannot be said that sex serves as an antidepressant treatment. It can provide us with positive moments that add to others to enhance pleasant emotions, but mood disorders require much more complex and often multidisciplinary therapeutic approaches.

Finally, we must keep in mind that sex facilitates falling asleep, which has a positive effect on the insomnia that very often accompanies mental health problems.

Buffers stress

The subjective experience of maladaptive stress (or distress) arises when we feel overwhelmed by the demands of the environment and disturbs both our mood and sexual desire. When we live for a long time with situations that overwhelm us, the frequency with which we want to have sex declines, which can sometimes translate into less satisfaction with our partner.

This may be due to levels of cortisol, a hormone necessary to cope with environmental demands, but harmful when its concentration in the body rises too high or for too long. In this sense, sex can help us reduce the stress associated with daily overload, although paradoxically stress itself also reduces desire.

A curious fact in this regard is that the most satisfied couples tend to seek sexual relations in the days after a stressful day. In addition, they are also the ones that benefit the most from its positive effects.

Boosts the immune system

Regular sexual activity enhances our physiological defenses against viruses, bacteria and other pathogens. There are even studies that suggest that having intimate relationships three times a month can protect us from coronavirus. The finding extends, of course, to other infectious pathologies.

This benefit on the immune system is independent of age and specific sexual practices, so anyone can achieve it at different times in their life. In short: the evidence suggests that as we increase the frequency of sexual relations our immune system becomes more competent against threats.

Reduces blood pressure and pain

Sexual activity promotes cardiovascular health. We know that erotic games as a couple increase systolic and diastolic pressure, with a spike during orgasm that attenuates just as it fades. In young people, a single sexual encounter translates into almost six metabolic equivalents (that is, an energy consumption six times greater than what would have been achieved at rest).

Another recent study suggests that maintaining sexual activity during old age reduces the probability of cardiovascular problems by positively affecting known risk factors. It can also contribute to relieving pain in pathologies that cause it, there being a lot of data on this point, especially in the female population.

Strengthens the relationship and emotional connection

Sex is important to build and maintain the bond with your partner, as it is a space conducive to sharing rewarding experiences. This is linked to the production of oxytocin, a hormone that contributes to the strengthening of all types of relationships (including that of mother and child during breastfeeding).

Oxytocin helps regulate social and emotional behaviors, making it key to well-being. It also modulates fear, anxiety and stress responses; flourishing especially in intimate moments such as hugs, caresses or kisses.

This reality underlines the importance of sex not being limited to genitality, but rather contemplating other, more subtle forms of interaction. Although the orgasm is the high point of the sexual response, our intimate relationships should not orbit around it or be understood as incomplete if it is not achieved.

In short, sex has multiple benefits. The priority will always be that it adjusts to the needs of the people involved, so that it provides pleasant and relaxed moments. Putting pressure on its intensity or frequency is often counterproductive. Knowing and respecting our mutual needs will be the key.