As if you needed another good reason to have sex — how about immortality? OK, well maybe not actually immortality, but there’s a new study saying that sex may actually help you live longer. And that’s just about the best reason I’ve heard to get down to it. Basically, a study published online in Psychoneuroendocrinology (trying say that three times fast... or even one time slow) found that having sex once a week is linked to longer telomeres. And longer telomeres are associated with slower cellular aging and increased lifespan. Oh, and also just overall health. The really cool part? The study was just focused on women, so it may just be like a female superpower.
Now, if the science language is throwing you a bit, don’t stress — telomeres are basically like little protective caps for your chromosomes. They are made up of repetitive DNA and they help protect the chromosome during processes like cell division. But the more the cell divides, the shorter the telomeres get— until eventually the chromosomes can't divide anymore. So longer telomeres mean protection during chromosome division and general awesomeness. But going back to the study, you can see something really interesting. The increased telomere length wasn't down to relationship satisfaction, stress, or even just being in a relationship — it was all about the sex.
If getting sex into your relationship is proving a little difficult, don't worry. There are easy steps you can take to put some spark back in the bedroom. "One exercise I give to couples is taking turns initiating sex once a week,” Dr. Dawn Michael, M.A. PhD ACS CSC, tells Bustle. “Flip a coin and see who goes first and if it is your turn to initiate sex, plan the time, get the room ready, and set the mood. Make it fun and pleasurable. Then the next time the other person takes the lead.” Before you know it, you'll be getting all of the benefits of sex — including the improved longevity the study found.
The study looked at 129 women, including both high-stress and low-stress mothers. And what they found was an increase in telmore length in those who reported sex at least once a week. "Analyses revealed no statistically significant associations of telomere length with current relationship satisfaction, daily support or conflict, or perceived stress.," the report reads. "In contrast, women who reported any sexual intimacy during the course of the week had significantly longer telomeres measured in whole blood and PBMCs." So it didn't matter if you were single or not, it didn't matter if you were stressed or not— it all came down to, well, how often you got down.
Now, it is very much preliminary research. And, because it's just observational, they need to work exactly how the two are connected — there's a chance that women who have longer telomeres feel better and that's the reason that they're having more sex. Or maybe it is the sex that's leading to it, but in order to know more research will definitely need to be done.
But in the meantime, I'm going to keep on thinking that the research says sex can make you immortal. Because that's just way more fun, isn't it?