"Sex is a part of nature," said screen legend Marilyn Monroe. "I go along with nature." Marilyn may not have known it, but nature made sure to provide some spectacular health benefits to having sex — just in case you needed a reason. A romp between the sheets can offer the following advantages:
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Younger looks. Having regular sex can help you look 10 years younger than your actual age, according to research at the U.K.'s Royal Edinburgh Hospital. People between the ages of 40 and 50 who looked younger than their chronological age said they enjoyed sex 50 percent more often — three times a week versus twice a week — than was average for their age group. Sex boosts circulation, releases human growth hormone and painkiller endorphins, burns fat, and reduces stress, says researcher Dr. David Weeks, allowing you to look younger longer.
Lower cardiac risk. Men who have sex at least twice a week halve their risk of having a fatal heart attack when compared to men who have sex less than once a month, according to a British study that spanned 20 years. Another study found that regular sex was associated with lower diastolic blood pressure in sexual partners who lived together.
Less stress. A study from the University of the West of Scotland found that people who had sex during the previous two weeks were better able to manage stress. Endorphins and oxytocin, the "feel good" hormones that are released during sex, help ward off anxiety and depression.
Longer life. According to a study conducted by Belfast's Queen's University, men who have sex twice a week halve their chances of dying prematurely when compared to those who have sex less than once a month. This could be linked to an increase in the youth-promoting hormone DHEA which rises during sex.
Maintain sexual ability. A Finnish study of men between the ages of 55 and 75 found that regular sex preserved sexual function in aging men. Those who had sex less than once a week were twice as likely to develop erectile dysfunction as those who had sex at least once a week. Very sexually active men — those who had sex three or more times a week — lowered their risk by 400 percent. Another study found that older women who had sex every week had estrogen levels twice as high as women who abstained, meaning they were less likely to suffer from vaginal atrophy, which causes sex to be uncomfortable.
Immune boost. People who have regular sex (once or twice a week) have higher levels of the antibody immunoglobulin A (IgA), say researchers at Pennsylvania's Wilkes University. IgA fights off bacteria and viruses at the body's entry points, helping stop colds and flu before they can grab hold and start multiplying, and reducing the need for your body's immune system to crank up and go into action. People who made love more than once a week had a 30 percent increase in IgA levels.
Fun exercise. Sex counts as exercise and can burn up to 250 calories a session. A study in The American Journal of Cardiology found that a bout of sexual activity was comparable to a workout on a treadmill. In addition to cardiac benefits, muscles in your back, thighs, and rear will also get a workout. Women get even more benefits — sex exercises the same pelvic floor muscles that protect against incontinence.
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Pain relief. Instead of being an excuse for not having sex, a headache can be a reason to jump in bed. A study from Germany's University of Munster found that more than half of migraine sufferers found relief from pain following sex. A study from Southern Illinois University found almost identical results. Orgasm produces a surge of hormones, beginning with oxytoxin (the "bonding" hormone that's released with touching) and continuing with endorphins that can ease aches and pains.
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