Is there more to sex than just fun? Yep—and science agrees. Consensual sex between trusting partners can actually have health benefits, both mentally and physically.
We tend to hear more about the risks of sex, like STDs or unwanted pregnancy, but there are major health benefits of having sex. Most obviously, it’s an actual workout: A vigorous round could burn around 55 calories or more for every 30 minutes. (And you thought exercise wasn’t fun!)
Regular sex can also prolong your life by reducing your risk of stroke or heart attack. In fact, one study found that men ages 45 to 59 with “high orgasmic frequency” (aka having more frequent sex!) lowered their mortality risk by 50 percent, compared to the group with “low orgasmic frequency.”
(Psst: not reaching that orgasm? Only 20 percent of women are able to climax from intercourse alone. Here’s more tips about helping women have an orgasm.)
Sex can help you sleep better, too. Although sex can be invigorating and make you feel temporarily more alert, sex can also soothe and relax the body. That’s all thanks to oxytocin, a feel-good hormone the body releases during sex. That means you might find it easier to fall asleep, despite getting a bit worked up beforehand.
And FYI, “regular sex” is a loose term. The average American reports engaging in sex about once or twice a week. You and your partner may be happy with more or less frequent sex—and that’s totally okay, as long as both your needs are met.
If medical conditions like erectile dysfunction are preventing you and your partner from having regular sex, be sure to talk to a doctor about ED to find options for having a healthy sex life. Here’s more info about treatment options for erectile dysfunction.