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Sex or sexual intercourse is a form of lovemaking activity between a male and a female. Although there is no specific to how much sex can one have or how much is right for your body, sex has certain benefits and side effects. Like, did you know that sex being an intense physical activity may assist weight loss? Or that sex actually acts as a stress buster for you and your partner? However, sex may also cause pain, discomfort or mild disturbances in the urinary system. It holds severe risks if performed unprotected. The health benefits and side effects of sex have been discussed below.

  1. What is sex?
  2. Benefits of sex
  3. Side-effects of sex
  4. Doctors for sexual disorders and issues

Sex primarily refers to the process of insertion of an erect penis of the male into the vaginal opening of the female. This can be for the purpose of pleasure or for reproduction. Sex is a natural and inevitable act, which may be different for different couples, depending on their sexual preferences. Also, it is not necessary that sex is always between a couple and may include the involvement of multiple partners.

Although vaginal sex is primarily referred to as sex and will be discussed in greater details in this article, there is much more to it. Insertion of the penis into the anal opening is another practice preferred by some couples, while others prefer oral sex. Oral sex refers to the activity of using one’s oral cavity, that is, the mouth, lips or tongue, to stimulate other person’s genitals. It is a natural and enjoyable act performed and preferred by some couples. Others may have a different notion of sex, so for them even touching another person’s genitals or mutual masturbation may be considered as sex.

All in all, there is no specific definition of sex and it lies in what a couple prefers, but vaginal sex is the most predominant form. 

(Read more: How to have safe sex)

That being said, one of the most common questions asked by all is, ‘is sex good for health’. The answer to that is yes. The health benefits of having sex have been discussed in detail below. 

  1. Sex as a stressbuster
  2. Benefits of sex for the heart
  3. Sex for weight loss
  4. Sex boosts your fertility
  5. Sex benefits for women's health
  6. Sex benefits for men

Sex as a stressbuster

Stress is negatively associated with sex, that is, the more sexually intimate and content you are with your partner, the less likely you are to be stressed. This has been reported by several studies claiming the several health benefits of sex due to an increase in the release of sex hormones by the body.

A study conducted on 103 female participants preceding an important exam found that stress was significantly lower among women with higher sexual activity as compared with women who were not sexually involved at all. The findings and daily stress levels were recorded by the women over a duration of 3 months.

Another study conducted on male and female participants showed similar results. These findings suggest that sex has a major role in stress alleviation, which may be due to the feeling of closeness with the partner. It is thus beneficial to engage in sexual activity of any kind to maintain optimal hormone levels and reduce daily stress.

Benefits of sex for the heart

As some of you may know, stress has fatal effects on the heart, associated particularly with hypertension (high blood pressure) and other cardiovascular disorders. By alleviating stress, sex may have a positive effect on your heart. Moreover, it has been suggested that any form of physical activity and exercise is good for your heart health. Sex, being one, may have a protective role, even without the feeling of fatigue as experienced after intense physical workouts.

Experts recommend having sex along with the inclusion of physical activities and exercise for optimal heart health. They say that sexual arousal helps in raising the heart rate. Better health benefits of sex have been found for women, as compared to men. A lower risk of cardiovascular disorders and hypertension has been reported in women with sexual activities.

A study recognised that partnered sex promoted cardiovascular health in older women, while its lack acted as a risk. The reverse was found to be true for men. So, you must be careful while having sex if you are suffering from cardiac disorders. It is the best to consult your cardiologist beforehand. 

(Read more: Management of heart attack)

Sex for weight loss

Sex is an intense physical workout. Don’t believe it? Well, there is sufficient research to support that. A study conducted on 21 heterosexual couples confirmed that sexual activity burns around 85 kcal when performed with moderate intensity. An average of 3.6 kcal/min was reported.

Other than being a physical workout, sex is also a potent stressbuster and a hormone regulator. It has been recognised that stress and hormonal imbalance are significantly associated with weight gain, so, by managing these factors, sex may also assist weight loss.

(Read more: Weight loss diet chart)

Sex boosts your fertility

This fact holds no surprise; a higher level of sexual activity is undeniably associated with better fertility since it keeps your sex hormones in check. Research evidence has suggested that men who had sex more often, ie, at least once in a week, had a better semen health than men who did not. That is why, experts often recommend to have sex more often if you are looking to get pregnant, and not just around the ovulating period in women. This will improve the chances of conception.

(Read more: How to get pregnant)

Sex benefits for women's health

Sex has profound health benefits, which may be different for both men and women, due to difference in sex hormones released. In women, sex raises the levels of estrogen, enhancing their fertility.

(Read more: Libido enhancing foods)

Other than having a role in fertility, estrogen performs several other functions in females. It is responsible for the growth of breast tissue, which is important in women, particularly those who are lactating. It also improves vaginal lubrication, which helps in preventing vaginal dryness. It has been recognised that the dryness of the vagina is a significant risk factor for vaginal pain and the development of vaginal infections. The likelihood of vaginal yeast infection is particularly increased.

A study conducted on women found that dyspareunia (painful sex) is more prevalent in women with limited sexual activity. This may also be a cause of vaginal dryness. So, it is likely that an indulgence in sexual activities may be protective against these risks.

To alleviate pain and dryness, the use of a mild lubricant may be prescribed to these women. Further, as much as sex is important, foreplay has a greater role in maintaining lubrication in women and must be performed efficiently by the partner.

The risk of vaginal dryness and atrophy is substantially higher among women after menopause, so they must not refrain from sexual activities. Doctors also recommend the use of topical or vaginal estrogen in postmenopausal women to counteract vaginal atrophy (thinning of the vaginal tissue with age).

The cardioprotective actions of sex for women have already been discussed. This is a reason enough to indulge in sexual activities even after menopause. If not, you may be astounded to know that sex may also improve the appearance of your skin. It has a role in reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles that appear as one ages. This can be explained on the basis of two theories.

Stress is more commonly associated with the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles, and may even be involved with their intercourse appearance. By having a role in stress alleviation and aiding in the feeling of happiness, sex may help in reducing these signs of ageing.

According to the other theory, sex helps in raising estrogen levels, which is responsible for maintaining skin elasticity. This may help in the reduction of wrinkles. Whatever be the theory, it is important to note that sex may have a role in improving your skin texture.

Other than this, sex is also likely to reduce the risk of breast cancer. Some studies on animal models have also put forward that sex enhances awakeness in women, while others have not revealed of any specific relation. Further studies are required in this regard.

Sex benefits for men

As seen, sex has several health benefits for women, but what about men? The benefits of sex for men have been discussed here. Having frequent sex raises the fertility of men as that of women, as demonstrated by an improvement in the quality of semen in them. It raises the levels of the hormone testosterone, which is essential for sexual health and functioning of men. It may also have a role in improving muscle mass in men.

(Read more: Home remedies to boost testosterone)

Just like women, having more sex may lead to prolonged youthfulness in men, which is reflected in their skin health and level of energy. Some studies have suggested that sex helps in regulating the sleep cycle in men, which helps to reinforce sleep in them. This may be due to the hormones released after an orgasm, which puts them at ease and favours sleep.

(Read more: Management of insomnia)

Other than this, several studies have demonstrated the benefits of sex in reducing the risk of prostate cancer in men. According to one study, it was found that there is a 15% reduction in the risk of prostate cancer by increasing the frequency of ejaculation to more than thrice weekly.

This can be ascertained to stress alleviation achieved by the process of ejaculation, and the flushing out of carcinogenic agents by the body along with the ejaculated semen. Another study confirmed these findings stating that this activity offered a one-third reduction in risk of prostate cancer even in older men. These finding clearly demonstrate the health benefits of sex for men and give you all the more reasons to indulge in some more sexual intimacy with your partner.

While the health benefits of sex are plenty, there are some side effects associated, which have been discussed below:

Unprotected sex and the risk of STDs

Having unprotected sex puts you and your partner at a risk of serious STDs like AIDSsyphilis and gonorrhoea. It is essential to make the use of a condom device, particularly if you possess multiple partners.

Pain after sex

Pain is commonly experienced by both the genders following sexual intercourse. Vaginal pain may be experienced by women, they may also experience the pain referring to the thigh. Men may experience mild penile pain. Severe pain may be a matter of concern and it is recommended to see your doctor in that case.

Pain causes leg cramping

Leg pain and leg cramping are common after sex for both men and women. It, however, relieves with time.

  1. Side effects of sex in women
  2. Side effects of sex in men

Side effects of sex in women

Following are the side effects of sex in women:

Sex causes urinary tract infection in women

Sexual activity is likely to increase the risk of urinary tract infection (characterised by an increased urge of urination and pain while micturition) in women of all age groups.

Sex affects immunity

Although the mechanism is not clear, sex may be associated with a lowered immunity, particularly in depressed women.

(Read more: Immunity-boosting foods)

Sex and sleep in women

Studies have shown that sex enhances wakefulness in women, which may pose a problem if they are trying to fall asleep.

Sex and cancer in women

Some studies have linked higher estrogen levels, which may be achievable by excessive sex, to an increased risk of endometrial cancer, but these findings are not clear and require further investigations. 

Side effects of sex in men

Following are the side-effects of sex in men:

Sex and cardiovascular disorders

A recent study hinted at a greater risk of heart diseases by sexual intercourse. Among elderly men, cardiovascular disorders are twice more likely in sexually active men than with the inactive.

Sex may affect exercise performance

While sexual activity does not directly reduce exercise performance, it has been reported that having sex as close as 2 hours before an athletic performance, may hinder maximal potential.

Sex may cause irritation

In men allergic to latex, sex may cause itching or irritation due to use of latex condoms. It is recommended to use polyurethane condoms in such cases.

Sex and sleep

Contrary to the effects observed in women, it has been noted that sex induces sleep in men, which may be a problem if performed before work or other activities.

Sex and fatigue

Sex is also likely to cause fatigue, particularly in men. So, too much of it must be avoided.

Sex causes painful urination

Some men may experience intense pain while urinating immediately after sex, which is likely to diminish soon after.

Dr. Abdul Haseeb Sheikh

Dr. Abdul Haseeb Sheikh

Sexology
8 Years of Experience

Dr. Srikanth Varma

Dr. Srikanth Varma

Sexology
8 Years of Experience

Dr. Pranay Gandhi

Dr. Pranay Gandhi

Sexology
10 Years of Experience

Dr. Tarun

Dr. Tarun

Sexology
8 Years of Experience

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References

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