"Only the united beat of sex and heart together can create ecstasy." When Anais Nin wrote this in her book Delta of Venus, she might not have been thinking beyond the obvious benefits of love making. But can sex can transform our lives in way more ways than one? Will it affect our mental and physical health long-term? Could it even be used to treat some of our most bothersome ailments?
We asked some of our favorite health experts Dr. Jeffrey Egler, Dr. Amy Shah, and Dr. William Cole to share some of their knowledge, and what we discovered is that yes, there are way more reasons to have sex than we originally thought. Terrible news, right? In addition to the obvious upside, regular sexual activity can also:
1. Help you stay healthy all winter long
According to Dr. Egler, a family practice physician and Los Angeles medical director of Parsley Health, sex can stimulate the immune system. And various research studies back this up, showing that regular sex can help prevent the common cold and increase immunity.
2. Soothe your headaches
Sex releases oxytocin, which is a hormone in the brain that can act as an effective pain reliever. Plus, many headaches are caused by stress and tension–which can easily melt away with a little distraction.
3. Help you get a great night's sleep
If you are sleep-deprived, some time between the sheets may be just what you need. A study on British women showed that one in six say they sleep longer and deeper after sex.
4. Strengthen all types of muscles
Sex can also strengthen pelvic floor muscles, which may not sound like a big deal, but these muscles are important for preventing future incontinence and leakage. (Plus, they have been linked to better sex.)
5. Kick sugar your sugar addiction
Suffer from 9 p.m. candy cravings? It could be because you're stressed and having a hard time winding down from your hectic day. The good news is that sex is relaxing and it increases feel-good hormones in your brain and body, which can help fight off those sugar cravings.
6. Keep you healthy for life
One of our other fabulous integrative medicine experts, Dr. Amy Shah, says that regular sexual activity can help prevent disease and keep us healthy as we age. According to Dr. Shah, regular ejaculations (21 or more ejaculations a month), has been linked to a decreased risk for prostate cancer.
7. Transform your mood
Immediately following orgasm, the body releases oxytocin (also known as the "love hormone" or "cuddle hormone"), which–according to Dr. Egler—evokes feelings of elation, attachment, and wellness.
8. Burn some extra calories
Don't feel like going to the gym? Feel free to stay in bed. Some research suggests that sexual activity can qualify as a moderate workout. Plus, I think we can all agree that it beats 45 minutes on the treadmill.
9. Affect your heart—in more ways than one
Sex is deeply linked to our hearts and emotions, opening us up to love and intimacy with another person. And according to Dr. Shah, people who have sex regularly are also less likely to get heart disease, keeping us healthy in more ways than one.
10. Support healthy cortisol balance
11. Balance your immune response
According to Dr. Cole, having sex (and falling in love) is one of the best ways to increase inflammation-fighting, immune-balancing T-cells.
There you have it, getting busy can do way more than just cultivate romance and make us feel connected to our partner—it can provide real, measurable benefits to our health and well-being. And so—knowing all these great benefits—the next time you get intimate, do so in honor of your health.