couple having sex in bed
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It's Exercise

It’s not necessarily a full workout, but it can be as good for you as moderate exercise. It raises your heart rate about the same as a brisk walk or a slow bike ride.

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doctor listening to womans chest with stethoscope
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Good for a Woman’s Heart

Women who have sex a couple of times a week are less likely to get heart disease than those who have it once a month. Whether that’s because healthier women enjoy it more often, or because it helps protect a woman’s heart is unclear. Unfortunately for men, good sex may have the opposite effect for them.  

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do not disturb sign on hotel door
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May Cure Your Headache

Say goodbye to the old standby “Not tonight, Dear. I have a headache.” It turns out sex can help with pain, and that includes some kinds of headaches, such as migraines. Not feeling frisky? Try: “Not tonight, Honey. I have a highly contagious stomach bug.” Works every time.

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confident man presenting to group
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Lowers Stress

People who have more sex are less anxious when they’re faced with stressful tasks like public speaking or arithmetic. But according to the study, it only works when you have a partner -- masturbation doesn't count.

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senior couple outside
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You May Live Longer

One study suggested that married women who climaxed more often had a slight tendency to live longer. Researchers aren’t sure if the sex actually lengthens your life or it’s just a side effect of a healthy lifestyle. But why take any chances?

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senior man working crossword puzzle
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Sharpens Your Mind

Sex has been linked to the making of new brain cells, and that’s a good thing. People over 50 who had more sex were better able to recall numbers and do basic math, and the difference was pretty big. It seemed to help men more than women, but both did better than those who had less sex.

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happy young couple driving in car
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Makes You Happy

You don’t have to overdo it -- once a week is plenty. More than that, and the effect fades. But scientists only studied couples in committed relationships, so if you’re trying to meet your quota by picking up strangers at your local bar, all bets are off.

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happy couple on a sofa
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Bonds You to Your Partner

The hormone oxytocin is released during sex, and it sparks feelings of intimacy, affection, and closeness with your partner. That helps build a strong, stable relationship, which is good for everyone.

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man with arms around womans waist
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Keeps You Lean

The more sex you have, the slimmer you’re likely to be. Is that because more sex keeps you trim? Or because lean people have more sex? Scientists don’t really know, but all you need is a partner and a bathroom scale to try to find out.

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young woman relaxing on sofa
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Good for Mental Health

Adults in committed relationships who have more sex are less likely to be depressed or take medication for mental health issues.

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young couple on college campus
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Helps Fight off the Common Cold

Move over, vitamin C. College students who had sex twice a week had more cold-fighting antibodies in their saliva than those who had sex less often.

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couple sleeping in bed close up
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Helps You Sleep

Orgasm triggers a surge of endorphins and oxytocin in both men and women, and that dulls pain and relaxes you. Both of those can help you sleep more easily, though according to scientists -- and many women -- the effect is more pronounced in men.

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woman undergoing mammogram
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Lowers Risk of Cancer

Men who have more sex may be less likely to get prostate cancer, and women less likely to get breast cancer. Pregnancy and contact with sperm may both be linked to the lower risk in women.

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young couple kissing infant
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You Could Make a Baby

If you’re trying to have a baby, the more sex you have, the more likely you are to hit the right time of the month. But more sex may also prime women for pregnancy and improve sperm quality in men, which can speed things along.

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romantic senior couple lying in bed
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Helps Your Future Self

People who have more sex may have better quality of life -- and not just now, but in the future, too. If you have an active sex life in middle age, you’re more likely to keep it up as you get older, which is linked to better health and happiness.

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Sources | Medically Reviewed on 09/12/2016 Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 12, 2016

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SOURCES:

Journal of Sexual Medicine: “The Relative Health Benefits of Different Sexual Activities.”

Planned Parenthood: “The Health Benefits of Sexual Expression.”

Society for Personality and Social Psychology: “Couples Who Have Sex Weekly Are Happiest.”

Oxford Age and Aging: “Sex on the brain! Associations between sexual activity and cognitive function in older age.”

Personality and Individual Differences: “Sexual activity as a predictor of life-span mortality risk.”

LiveScience: “6 (Other) Great Things Sex Can Do For You,” “Sex May Relieve Migraines.”

Cephalalgia: “The impact of sexual activity on idiopathic headaches: An observational study.”

Cleveland Clinic: “Why Sex Is Good for Your Health, Especially Your Heart.”

Harvard Health Publications: “Is sex exercise? And is it hard on the heart?” “Measuring Physical Activity.”

Journal of Health and Social Behavior: “Is Sex Good for Your Health? A National Study on Partnered Sexuality and Cardiovascular Risk Among Older Men and Women.”

Reviewed by Melinda Ratini, DO, MS on September 12, 2016

This tool does not provide medical advice. See additional information.

THIS TOOL DOES NOT PROVIDE MEDICAL ADVICE. It is intended for general informational purposes only and does not address individual circumstances. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment and should not be relied on to make decisions about your health. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read on the WebMD Site. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.