Let's Talk About Sex (Because It Has Many Health Benefits for Women) — Here Are Just a Few
Here’s a subject most “women of a certain age” don’t talk about: sex. More specifically, we don’t talk about what it means to have a healthy sex life. That’s unfortunate, because as we get older, maintaining a healthy sex life has more benefits than ever, and not just to our relationship. A good sex life can improve sleep quality, support immune function, boost mental health, and increase our sense of well-being. To put it bluntly, the health benefits of sex and the sexual satisfaction of older women are topics we should all be talking about. Read on for the numerous benefits of a healthy sex life.
Feeling stressed out or frazzled by life lately? It might be surprising, but good sex might be the stress relief you need. That’s because when you engage in sexual activity, your body releases a cocktail of feel-good hormones like oxytocin, endorphins, and dopamine. These hormones create a sense of relaxation and euphoria, which help alleviate feelings of stress.
There’s another reason that a good sex life helps to ease feelings of stress. Studies show that sex (and the warm, fuzzy feelings it evokes) help you connect with your partner more deeply, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation. It also makes you feel supported and loved, which in turn, can help you to deal with stress more effectively.
Lower Blood Pressure
After a certain age, keeping a close watch on your blood pressure is standard. (My doctor reminds me of the connection between age and high blood pressure at every appointment, and my blood and heart health are never far from my mind.) But did you know that regular sex may actually help lower your blood pressure? One study found that a healthy sex life can reduce spikes in blood pressure during stressful events, which helps lower your overall blood pressure and reduces negative health effects caused by stress. It turns out it isn’t just an apple a day that keeps the doctor away — frequent sex might have the same benefits.
Increased Bladder Control
A healthy sex life can improve bladder control and function. Specifically, regular sex can help strengthen the pelvic floor muscles, which are crucial for bladder control. Pelvic floor muscles support the bladder and urethra and help regulate urine flow. When these muscles are weak or damaged, such as during pregnancy and delivery, it can lead to urinary incontinence or leakage. Regular sexual activity can help to counteract this by strengthening these muscles, thus improving bladder control.
The fact that sexual activity helps to reduce stress also positively affects bladder control. Stress can cause muscles to tense up, including the pelvic floor muscles, thereby exacerbating urinary incontinence. By reducing stress through sexual activity, you help relax these muscles and improve bladder control. It's worth noting that different types of sexual activity can help improve bladder control. Orgasm is one way to see these benefits, but Kegel exercises, which involve contracting and relaxing the pelvic floor muscles, can also strengthen muscles and improve bladder control.
It might sound counterintuitive — don’t you need sexual desire to have a good sex life in the first place? — but “spending some time in the bedroom” (if you know what I mean) can actually boost your sex drive and keep it revved up over time. That’s because regular sex increases blood flow to sex organs, making them more sensitive and primed for action. Plus, all that sexy time releases hormones like testosterone and estrogen, which makes you feel closer to your partner and makes you more likely to want to have sex. In other words? The best way to improve your sex life and libido might actually be the most straightforward: simply start having sex.
Better Heart Health
Yet another reason to prioritize intimacy with your partner: Research shows that engaging in regular sexual activity may help reduce the risk of cardiovascular disease. That’s right — research published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that men who had sex at least twice a week had a significantly lower risk of heart disease than those who had sex once a month or less. Another study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that women who reported a satisfying sex life had a lower risk of hypertension, a major risk factor for heart disease.
One reason for this connection is that sexual activity is a form of physical exercise. During sex, your heart rate increases, and you burn calories, which can help improve cardiovascular fitness. Regular physical activity — including sex — can also help lower blood pressure, improve circulation, and reduce inflammation in the body, all of which contribute to a healthier heart. That doesn’t, of course, mean you should skip your regular walks or trips to the gym, but as an important piece of an overall healthy lifestyle that includes both physical activity and sexual satisfaction, a little sexual healing can go a long way in boosting heart health for both men and women.
We’ve covered how sexual activity triggers the release of hormones in the body, including oxytocin (also known as the "love hormone”) and endorphins, which are associated with pleasure and relaxation. But it’s worth repeating.
These hormones can positively impact sleep quality by promoting relaxation and reducing stress, and a healthy sex life makes them more prevalent within the body. Oxytocin, in particular, has been found to affect sleep significantly. This hormone is released during sexual activity and can help reduce cortisol, a stress hormone that can interfere with sleep. Oxytocin also promotes feelings of trust, bonding, and emotional closeness with your partner, which can further enhance relaxation and improve sleep quality.
Studies have shown that engaging in sexual activity may also positively contribute to better sleep quantity and satisfaction. Sexual activity has been found to increase the production of prolactin, a hormone associated with feelings of satiety and relaxation. While this connection is stronger following intercourse, it occurs after masturbation, as well.
Strengthened Immune System
Some research has found that regular sex can improve immune function by increasing your body’s natural defense against certain diseases. While more research is needed to prove this link conclusively, the evidence is promising. And aside from directly boosting your immune system, the other benefits of regular sex, such as lower blood pressure and improved heart health, also indirectly contribute to better immunity. It turns out that getting hot and heavy might actually be one of the best things you can do to prevent your next cold and help your overall wellness.
Healthy Sex Life, Healthy You
It turns out that having good sex isn’t just fun — it’s actually good for nearly every aspect of women’s health. Who knew healthy living could be so enjoyable?