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10 Surprising Health Benefits of Sex

The perks of sex extend well beyond the bedroom.
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7. Lessens Pain

Before you reach for an aspirin, try for an orgasm.

“Orgasm can block pain,” says Barry R. Komisaruk, PhD, a distinguished service professor at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. It releases a hormone that helps raise your pain threshold.

Stimulation without orgasm can also do the trick. “We’ve found that vaginal stimulation can block chronic back and leg pain, and many women have told us that genital self-stimulation can reduce menstrual cramps, arthritic pain, and in some cases even headache,” Komisaruk says.

8. May Make Prostate Cancer Less Likely

Going for the gusto may help ward off prostate cancer.

Men who ejaculated frequently (at least 21 times a month) were less likely to get prostate cancer during one study, which was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

You don’t need a partner to reap this benefit: Sexual intercourse, nocturnal emission, and masturbation were all part of the equation.

It's not clear that sex was the only reason that mattered in that study. Lots of factors affect cancer risk. But more sex won’t hurt.

9. Improves Sleep

You may nod off more quickly after sex, and for good reason.

“After orgasm, the hormone prolactin is released, which is responsible for the feelings of relaxation and sleepiness" after sex, says Sheenie Ambardar, MD. She is a psychiatrist in West Hollywood, Calif.

10. Eases Stress

Being close to your partner can soothe stress and anxiety.

Ambardar says touching and hugging can release your body's natural “feel-good hormone.” Sexual arousal releases a brain chemical that revs up your brain’s pleasure and reward system.

Sex and intimacy can boost your self-esteem and happiness, too, Ambardar says. It’s not only a prescription for a healthy life, but a happy one.

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Reviewed on October 24, 2013
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