This Is How Often You Should Be Having Sex For Optimal Health

This Is How Often You Should Be Having Sex For Optimal Health Hero Image
Photo: Guille Faingold

Eat your vegetables and fruits, get seven to nine hours of sleep, don’t smoke, walk 30 minutes a day, stand more, stress less, be more mindful. It can be quite an undertaking to arrange and maintain a schedule that promotes health and longevity. And interestingly, the one activity you may not be placing high enough on your "must-do" list is the one that brings you the most pleasure of all: sex.

There's a wealth of medical data indicating that intercourse and orgasm not only maintain the lineage of our species, but they maintain our health in the years after childbearing. I've always had an interest in the connection between sex life and overall health, but with the release of my newest book, Vegan Sex, I think it's time to talk about just how healthy sex really is.

None other than the Harvard Health Letter declared that "Sex is important to health. It revs up metabolism and may boost the immune system. Frequent sexual intercourse is associated with reduced heart attack risk." But if that is true, why don’t doctors write "more sex" on a prescription pad at preventive care visits?

Here's what the research says about sex and your health.

In a research project called the Massachusetts Male Aging Study, there was nearly a 50 percent increased risk of developing heart disease in men who had sex once a month or less compared with the group that had two or more weekly sessions, which would translate to about 100 times a year. In another study, over 900 men in Wales were followed for 10 years; the risk of dying was reduced 50 percent in those with high orgasm frequency versus low. If a participant had eight sexual episodes monthly, the death rate was reduced by 36 percent, but the more sex participants had, the more the death rate dropped. This is called a dose-response curve, and very few "more traditional" medical therapies can boast lifesaving numbers like these.

In a recently published research analysis, frequency of sexual activity corresponded with better cognitive function in older adults. Memory, executive function, and verbal fluency were all better with more frequent sex in males and females. In another study just published, sexual frequency in over 2,000 men and women was inversely correlated to the blood concentration of an amino acid adverse to heart health called homocysteine. The frequency with which the person engaged in sex, the lower and more favorable their homocysteine levels were.

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A prescription to have lots (and lots) of sex.

Although discussing frequent sex may bring up issues of legal, moral, and religious guidelines—not to mention other health concerns associated with sex itself—the act itself appears to be quite healthy and possibly a path to extending life span and avoiding common diseases. The ability to successfully engage in sex and orgasm indicates a healthy cardiovascular system, and it can be a form of exercise. One theory for males is that testosterone levels increase during intercourse with a partner (not necessarily during masturbation) and higher testosterone levels are associated with longevity. Unfortunately, less medical data is available on the role of sexual frequency in female health, but there is plenty of reason to believe the advantages are much the same. As you set health goals for the second half of 2017—whether it is a sexual frequency of 100 times a year, 252 times a year, or more—it's good to know that a romp in the bedroom is as important as a trip to the gym, juicing vegetables, or meditating for your health and longevity.

Here are 11 doctor-inspired reasons to skip your workout and have sex instead. Or better yet, try out these workout moves for better sex.