Does sex boost your immune system?
A healthy sex life has many benefits, both physical and mental, which are all interconnected. Sex with the one you love not only deepens emotional bonds, it also provides health benefits in everyday life, including supporting the immune system. And if you’re single? Well, you can still reap health benefits of sex by yourself!
How does sex boost the immune system?
Yes, sex really can boost your immunity, and here's how.
1. Sex decreases the stress hormone cortisol
The main hormone responsible for stress is 'cortisol'. Research shows more than two thirds of people feel stressed or anxious at least once a week, and 15% of people feel stressed all day everyday. Too much stress decreases our immune function and impairs our immune resistance, which is our ability to fight off disease, bad bacteria and viruses. Learn more in 'What is cortisol?'.
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During sex, the body releases chemicals called 'endorphins', 'dopamine' and 'oxytocin', all of which help to balance out and overcome the impact of cortisol, in turn helping you to relax and giving your immunity a natural boost. These hormones can also help to reduce anxiety and low moods. Your diet can also play an important role in improving your libido - learn more from our nutritionists about the best and worst foods for sex drive', and discover the best foods to help relieve anxiety.
2. Increases release of dopamine
Dopamine is one of the feel-good hormones released during sex and intimacy. It is a neurotransmitter in our brain and is an important regulator of our immune function. There is increasing clinical research showing that increasing our dopamine levels may improve our overall immune resistance.
3. Improves sleep quality
Sleep is one of the vital components of a healthy immune system. When we're not sleeping, or sleeping well, our immune system is weakened. Good quality sleep is essential for healing, repair and rejuvenation of our body's cells and including our immune system. The hormones released during sex can help you get to sleep and have a much deeper sleep, which in turn benefits the immune system.
Our research of over 1,000 people shows the shocking scale of 'the sleep problem', with only 1 in 5 of us saying we have no problems sleeping! Diet can also have a big impact on our sleep. Diet can also help your sleep - learn more about the best foods and nutrients for sleep.
4. Anti-inflammatory benefits of oxytocin
Research shows that the hormone 'oxytocin', which is released during sex, has an anti-inflammatory effect on the body. A randomised, placebo-controlled, crossover study found that oxytocin decreased inflammation markers and supports the immune function, so increasing your levels of oxytocin through sex may have a positive effect on your immune health.
Is orgasm needed?
While an orgasm is accompanied by a huge endorphin boost, sex without orgasm still has benefits. Even just kissing and being close to someone releases endorphins and oxytocin.
Orgasms and cortisol
The biggest reduction in our stress hormone cortisol occurs after orgasm. As such, although sex without orgasm is still beneficial, if you are struggling with orgasm, you may want to consult a sex therapist, or consider natural herbs and remedies which can be helpful for sexual dysfunction.
Want more sex?
A slow sex life can be a catch-22. While sex can be a great reliever of stress, stress itself can stop you from feeling like having sex, feeling sexy or feeling as if you'll be able to perform for your partner.
Adaptogenic herbs such as Ashwagandha KSM-66 can help to help to regulate and lower cortisol levels, which can help you to relax and enjoy intimacy. The cortisol-lowering effects of Ashwagandha may also help to lower high blood pressure. Blood pressure rises when we're stressed, putting pressure on the blood vessels and affecting microcirculation. Poor microcirculation interferes with libido and sexual function, and studies show Ashwagandha may increase blood flow to the penis and clitoris, increasing sexual desire and function in both men and women.
Increased clitoral and vaginal blood flow may also improve desire and natural lubrication, while increased blood flow to the penis may help improve the strength of erections. Vaginal dryness ('vaginal atrophy') is a common symptom of menopause - learn about vaginal atrophy from our nutritionists, and the 8 unusual symptoms of menopause.
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