It seems silver screen goddess Mae West was onto something when she famously said, "An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away." The elusive Big O doesn’t just bring on a flood of feel-good hormones; it also comes with a host of surprising health benefits. Here are 10 of our favorites.
A Natural Pain KillerThe endorphins released at the moment of climax can help you withstand a whopping 70 percent more pain. Some women even say that orgasms have helped beat the bite of contractions during childbirth. That's because orgasm has an analgesic effect on the body, making them a great drug-free way to beat pain (and making a headache a very bad excuse for not getting busy).
The singles out there need not worry: Researchers say the pain-killing properties of partner sex and solo pleasure are pretty much the same. (Read more about it in Masturbation Each Day Keeps the Doctor Away.)
A Cure for HiccupsOrgasms stimulate the vagus nerve, a long nerve that runs from the stem of the brain down to all the internal organs in the chest, pelvis and abdomen. American physician Dr. Francis Fesmire insists that stimulating this nerve is the best way to cure a case of hiccups.
"From now on, I will be recommending sex - culminating with orgasm - as the cure-all for intractable hiccups," he says.
Who are we to argue with the good doctor’s advice? His remedy sounds a lot more fun that being frightened or standing on our heads!
A Big Sexy, Boost for the Immune SystemDuring orgasm, your body releases an antibody known as immunoglobulin A. This clever chemical boosts the immune system, providing protection from infections and viruses like the flu and common cold. (Plus, winter's a great time to stay under the covers!)
Better Than a Neti PotIf you do happen to get the sniffles, don’t worry: It’s not too late for orgasms to work their magic. The body releases a hormone called prolactin during climax, which fires up neurons in your nose. This will clear up stuffy sinuses and heighten your sense of smell. And it's a waaayy sexier than nasal sprays, tissues and neti pots.
A Dose of HappinessOrgasms release the feel-good hormone oxytocin and a range of endorphins that act as natural antidepressants. Get them through intercourse or masturbation, or for an extra dose of happiness, try going down on the man in your life. He’ll feel good, and you’ll enjoy the surprising benefits of semen. which jut happens to contain mood-boosting chemicals. (Yes, really.)
Banish Morning SicknessIf you’re a woman wrestling with a nasty case of morning sickness, American psychologist Gordon Gallup insists your partner’s orgasm is just the thing to cure it. He reasons that your partner’s sperm was what made you sick, so building up a tolerance is the only way to fix your nausea. His prescription of oral sex is great news for fathers-to-be! (Got a bun in the oven but still horny as a Viking's helmet? Read 7 Safe, Sizzling Sex Positions for Pregnant Women.)
Sleep TightWe all know an intense bout of nookie can really take it out of you. However, it’s a combination of the orgasm as well as the energy you’ve expended that make you drowsy. The oxytocin that floods your brain creates endorphins with sedative properties. Can't sleep? Get busy and you'll be snoozing peacefully in no time.
Stellar PubesSex is like exercise for your naughty bits - it keeps them toned, young and healthy. The extra stimulation to the genitals you enjoy during orgasm causes blood to rush to the tissues around this area, which helps refresh those pink bits. An orgasm a week will keep your genitals in tip-top condition. Use it or lose it, people!
Better MemoryYour genitals might be the only thing on your mind during orgasm, but that isn't the only place blood's rushing to - it’s also making a beeline toward your brain. In fact, some scientists suggest that enjoying regular orgasms is a better way to improve memory than old standards like completing crosswords or Sudoku puzzles. It’s also a lot more fun!
"Mental exercises increase brain activity but only in relatively localized regions," explained American neuroscientist, Professor Barry Komisaruk. "Orgasm activates the whole."