New Research Suggests Sex Boosts Immune Function
As if you really need any excuse to have sex, you may find you've got one of the best reasons ever, and the science to prove it. Regular sex can improve immune function and research has shown that it can even prevent you from getting the flu.
It's an interesting arrangement. Your body produces higher levels of immunoglobulin (IGA), an antibody that can thwart colds and flus where those germs most often enter the body, through mucosal linings, when you regularly have sex—2-3 times per week. So what makes this discovery so curious is how the body uses sex to prevent illness (which can also be picked up during intimate contact) so that you can, presumably, have more sex. Go figure. Nothing can ruin your sex life like a hacking cough or the stomach flu, and it appears the body knows this and works homeopathically to prevent it.
Researchers in Wilkes-Barre Pennsylvania tested subjects who showed an immune response that was at least 33 percent higher in people who had sex approximately two times per week versus those who had no sex, or those who had "extremely high" levels of intercourse. (It seems you can orgasm yourself right into the flu too.) Moderately balanced activity serves to create a well-balanced body. Go figure, again.
While the study didn't discuss effects of self-imposed orgasm, it alluded to the results by way of intimacy and the hormones and endorphins released when we touch and are touched by another person.
Dopamine, the feel good endorphin that can leave you high after sex also boost mood beyond the post-coital glow. Research has linked stress to compromised immune function as well, suggesting that the more regular sex you have, the more your body produces feel-good chemicals that keep your stress levels down and immune function up.
During physical contact, not necessarily sex, but even cuddling or hand holding, the body also releases oxytocin. It is responsible for bonding mother and baby, friends and lovers, and supportive research shows human defenses drop when people make physical contact, leading again, to fewer occurrences of stress. Oxytocin is also responsible for the sleepy aftereffects of sex and can produce a more restful night's sleep. One in ten Americans is sleep deprived and some 70 million suffer from sleep disorders ranging from caring for a newborn throughout the night, sleep apnea, which prevents necessary REM-stage sleep to the bizarre newly discovered "restless leg syndrome," which new research suggests may effect up to ten percent of Americans.
Disrupted sleep puts a different type of stress on the body than pressure at work or traffic can. Its effects can be more subtle, but even more dangerous, leading to car accidents, lack of focus and concentration at work and a diminished interest in sex as well as a compromised immune system.
Again we see the layers connecting a healthy sex life to a healthy life.
It can happen to all of us—a combination of stress, lack of sleep, or the cold that's been going around the office, the kids, the bills—and sex becomes the least important priority. It can even become a burden. The longer we put it off, the harder it is to relax into that routine and many couples dismiss its absence as a part of maturing relationships. Regular sex has been shown to result in happier marriages and healthier individuals maintaining more ideal body weight, regular exercise routines and a generally healthier diet than people who do not have an active sex life. Research also p
oints to monogamous long-term relationships as being more fulfilling for individuals than frequent sex with multiple partners.
If you're at a point of distance from your partner and a sexual relationship, for whatever reason, has taken a back seat, it can be difficult to rekindle that ever-important feeling. You can try several things to get you in the mood including exercise, diet and meditation. Regular physical activity has been linked to increased virility and interest in sex. Go for a run, take a yoga class or go for a swim and start to notice if that changes your interest in your partner. Food is a huge factor. Our diet affects our body functions and health and an unhealthy diet will cause many problems. Eating fresh fruits and vegetables daily will dramatically increase your health and interest in sex. Vitamin C, which the multiple Nobel Prize winning Dr. Linus Pauling researched on himself for decades can not only boost your immune response (it is like glue to your cells making it difficult for pathogens to disrupt), but it can also boost your interest in sex. Chocolate's phenyl-ethylamine releases the same chemicals the body releases during sex. Meditation does not have to be a spiritual or religious practice. Calmly sitting and focusing on your own breathing can center and ground your body, helping to not only relieve stress, but also improve brain function and emotional health. Meditation connects individuals to important parts of themselves and that is a personal intimacy invaluable to cultivating intimacy with others.
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