Sexual health

Skip the Gym, Get in Bed: 7 Health Benefits of Sex

Published: APRIL 21, 2022 | Updated: JULY 21, 2022
Could an orgasm a day keep the doctor away? The health benefits of sex go beyond the obvious!

Believe it or not, sex is an important and essential part of our life. Sex (with a partner or by yourself) isn't just for intimacy and pleasure — sex impacts our physical, emotional, intellectual, psychological, and social well-being.


Of course, the benefits of sex aren't limited to the weeks you aren't bleeding. Plus, period sex is great for relieving some of the not-so-great aspects of menstruation. One way to keep period sex mess-free (if that's a concern) is by using a menstrual disc like the Ziggy Cup 2, from INTIMINA, so you can get the rewards of sex, no matter the time of the month.

To get more info about all of this, we reached out to the experts. Here are seven health benefits of sex, according to science.

Sex for Stress Management

Sex can provide a settled, more relaxed mind. Feeling stressed? Skip yoga, and hop in the sack with your partner instead. According to a study published in Socioaffective Neuroscience & Psychology, sex boosts our dopamine levels (AKA that “feel good” chemical). Even better news: Researchers found that having an orgasm is associated with increased levels of oxytocin (the “love hormone”) and vasopressin.


“Pleasurable sex can help 'settle the mind,' so to speak, and bring benefits similar to meditation,” says August McLaughlin, certified sex educator and host of Girl Boner Radio. “For some folks, sex is the one time when they feel fully present. And those perks can linger, leading you to feel more relaxed afterward.”

Sex for Self-Confidence

Sex is a great way to boost your confidence and form a new sense of love and respect for your body. If you’re self-conscious about your appearance or performance, it may sound ridiculous to say that sex can actually boost your confidence levels. Thanks to a study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, however, we now have proof that having sex (casual sex, in this case) is linked to a person’s overall well-being, including higher levels of self-esteem.“It's really difficult to ponder negative thoughts about your body during an orgasm,” says McLaughlin. “Focusing on what your body can do or feel can be far more positive than fixating on aesthetics in a mirror, especially in a culture with such limited ideals around 'beauty,'” McLaughlin adds. “The feel-good chemicals released during orgasm can also help by lowering stress or anxiety around your appearance and everything else.”

Read: 6 Ways to Feel Better About Your Body in Bed


Sex to Help You Sleep

According to the Sleep Foundation, having sex or masturbating is one way to ensure a good night’s sleep. This is because the body releases a slew of hormones after orgasm, including prolactin. In fact, 50 percent of both men and women say that having an orgasm not only helps them fall asleep but improves their quality of sleep as well.

One review conducted by researchers at the University of Ottawa suggests that engaging in sexual activity before bed can decrease stress and potentially help insomniacs not only get to sleep but stay asleep — making sex a “possible alternative or addition to other intervention strategies for insomnia.”

Sex for Interpersonal Connections

Sex can bring you even closer to your partner. Oxytocin is a magical thing. Not only does this nifty neurotransmitter reduce stress and increase feelings of trust, but oxytocin can also make you feel closer to your partner and prevent you from becoming close with other potential partners. In addition, sex produces an “afterglow.” In one study, researchers discovered that the sexual satisfaction between partners remained elevated 48 hours post-coital producing a stronger “afterglow” and promoting pair bonding.


“I often tell my clients that the more they are able to be physically intimate with each other, the happier and more satisfied they will be in their relationship,” says sex and relationship therapist, Sara Sloan, LMFT-A. “Sex and intimacy is a form of adult play, which helps couples have fun together, decrease stress, and increase their attachment.”

Read: How to Have Spiritual Sex on Your Period

Sex to Boost Immunity

Sex keeps your immune system running strong. Research published in Psychological Reports revealed that participants (112 total) who had sex twice a week had a 30 percent increase in IgA (this antibody shows how strong someone’s immune system is) over those who were abstinent.


“Let’s remember that sex is a form of exercise, so of course, that’s going to lead to a whole host of physical health benefits,” says Ruby Payne, a sex and relationships expert at UberKinky. “One of these is that sex strengthens your immune system, allowing your body to defend itself against nasty germs and bacteria,” adds Payne. “However, it’s just as important to remember that those who are having more sex do have a higher exposure to sexually transmitted infections and diseases, so wrapping up for every bang is always a must.”

Sex for Heart Health

Sex lowers your risk of having a heart attack. Contrary to the popular movie cliche, having a heart attack in the midst of a steamy romp is pretty unlikelyfewer than 1 percent of heart attacks are linked to sexual activity. If anything, research shows the exact opposite to be true, as having a healthy sex life can lower your risk of having a heart attack or developing cardiovascular disease. Studies suggest that men who have sex a minimum of two times per week and women who report having healthy and satisfying sex lives are less likely to have a heart attack.

According to research published in the American Journal of Cardiology, men with a “low frequency” (sex once per month or less) of sexual activity have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease when compared to men who have sex twice per week or more.


Sex for Period Cramps

Sex can help alleviate menstrual cramps. There are several benefits to having sex on your period including improved mood, a boosted libido, and built-in natural lubrication. One of the best benefits? Orgasms can help relieve menstrual cramps.

According to INTIMINA, “when you orgasm, chemicals like dopamine, serotonin and endorphin are sent soaring through your bloodstream, making you feel happy, warm, satisfied and content." All that means that sex is a very effective pain killer.Read: Bloody Hell! Is Period Sex Really a Big Deal?

Given the cute name "menstrubation," even solo period sex has been proven to reduce cramping, back pain, and headaches. The benefits of orgasms during your period are there, regardless of if you are partnered or alone.

Sure, period sex can be intimidating. But there are a few things you can do to alleviate your anxiety and let loose. You could set down a towel or two, hop in the shower for a steamy romp, or opt to use a menstrual cup like the Ziggy Cup 2 by INTIMINA, the menstrual cup that is designed to be worn during sex.

The Bottom Line

Sex isn't a replacement for the basics of a healthy lifestyle, but consider it an essential component of being - and feeling - well. The next time you can't help but skip the gym, consider snuggling up with your partner. Now that's a tradeoff you can feel good about.

Tabitha Britt

Tabitha Britt is the founding editor-in-chief of DO YOU ENDO, the first no-BS digital magazine for individuals with endometriosis by individuals with endometriosis. You can find her byline in a variety of publications, including Insider, O.School, YourTango, and My Sex Toy Guide, among others. She earned her Master's degree in Creative Publishing and Critical Journalism from The New School of Social Research.

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