You often hear about the health benefits of sex. But was all sex created equal in this regard? There are, after all, infinite ways to have sex. And if something as fun as sex can improve your health, you'd might as well take advantage of it as much as possible.
Sex can improve your physical and mental wellbeing in multiple ways. "Anything that gets your heart rate going and increases blood flow is a good thing," Astroglide's resident OB/GYN Dr. Angela Jones tells Bustle. "Masturbation and the associated orgasm to follow helps with things such as menstrual cramps. Sex makes you feel good all over. This leads to better mood, lower blood pressure, and glowing skin."
Research backs this up. A study in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior found that older women who had sex regularly were less prone to high blood pressure. Athletes even perform better on strength and agility tests after they've had sex or masturbated regularly, according to a study by Adam and Eve. And another study in the Archives of Sexual Behavior found that women who had more sex actually did better on memory tests.
The point being, sex is awesome, not just because it's fun but also because it's actually good for you. We have this absurd idea that the more you enjoy something, the worse it is for you, but that is far from the case when it comes to sex. Most kinds of safe, consensual sex are beneficial, but here's how to get the most benefits out it.
1. Find Your Optimal Time
Some people find that sex leaves them energized, while others find that it leaves them sleepy, Kien Vuu, MD, a clinical professor of medicine at UCLA-David Geffen School of Medicine, tells Bustle. Take note of how you tend to feel after sex, then schedule it in the morning or at night accordingly.
2. An Orgasm Is A Bonus
Orgasming is not necessary to get most of the health benefits of sex, sex researcher Nicole Prause, PhD tells Bustle. However, what it does do is release extra oxytocin, OB/GYN Aimee Eyvazzadeh, MD tells Bustle. This hormone not only can help you and your partner bond but also has mental health benefits that have led it to be studied as a treatment for OCD and PTSD. Oxytocin can even lower your stress, decrease your blood pressure, and improve your sleep, says Vuu.
3. Get Moving
"Sex can be a great cardio workout," sexologist and licensed clinical professional counselor Dr. Laura Deitsch tells Bustle. It's probably no substitute for going to the gym, but getting on top and putting all your energy into it may elevate your heart rate a bit and add to the endorphin rush.
4. Connect With Your Partner
More connected sex releases more oxytocin, says Vuu. And some love and affection never hurt anyone.
5. Take Your Time
The longer sex lasts, the more time there is for all of these benefits to sink in, says Jones. So block out some time and stay in the moment.
6. Do What Feels Good
Ultimately, a good metric of what's good for your health (especially your mental health) is what makes you feel good — not just in the moment but also afterward. "The best sex is usually the sex that is mutually communicated and enjoyed," says Deitsch. "It's hard to say what's best in terms of a 'one size fits all' prescription. Some like languishing in cuddle time, some like quickies. Some people enjoy tender, soft, romantic interludes, while others get off on rough, intense sessions."
And remember that pretty much any safe, consensual sex is good for your health, so while all these things may provide an extra boost, what's most important is to do what feels best to you.