Can (safe) sex improve your health? What are the health benefits of intimacy? Sex isn’t just fun. Regular, consensual, healthy sexual activity can be part of a healthy lifestyle. And sex doesn’t just help build connection and intimacy in a relationship. The physical act of intercourse, coupled with the release of hormones, can produce better physical and emotional health for those who engage in safe, consensual sex. Physical intimacy (giving and receiving physical affection, such as hugs and kisses) and psychological intimacy (such as connectedness and shared understanding) can also reduce stress and increase happiness.
A relationship definitely exists between an active sex life and being physically healthy. The benefits of sex also include reduced blood pressure and stress, as well as improved health, sleep, intimacy, life satisfaction, and mental health. Sex can also protect you from sickness. It increases the antibody immunoglobulin A (IGA), which can boost your immune system. People who have sex at least once a week have more IGA than people who have sex less often.
Sex is a great form of physical activity, but it shouldn’t replace your regular exercise and military fitness routine. Depending on your sexual activity, you can burn about 3–4 calories per minute, which basically has the same health benefits of a short, moderate-paced walk. So for the extra calorie burn, don’t skip the foreplay!
Intimacy and sex increase levels of serotonin and dopamine, brain chemicals responsible for the overall feeling of pleasure, followed by relaxation and well-being. Oxytocin—a hormone that provides many health benefits—also increases in the brain after sex.
Oxytocin is involved in every stage of a couple’s relationship, from dating to sex to childbirth. Your body releases high levels of it during the “honeymoon phase” of a relationship to strengthen your connection. The hormone is also released during sex, mostly at orgasm, to enhance pleasure and bonding. Sex can improve intimacy and togetherness, which can then result in more sex.
Oxytocin has other health benefits. Good intimacy and sex release oxytocin, which can improve sleep and reduce stress. Less stress and more stress management means you can fall asleep easier and stay asleep. Outside of sex, oxytocin has a role in trust, intimacy, and other social interactions.
Sexual intercourse, other sexual activities, intimacy, and even friendships, can improve overall military wellness, life and relationship satisfaction, sleep, and immune function. In addition, the hormones released during intimacy and sexual activities have health benefits that extend into many parts of your life.
However, remember to practice safe sex! Risky, unsafe sex can potentially undo these health benefits. Safe sex practices and sexual needs are critical components of healthy sex, so don’t be afraid to talk openly about them, and regularly