It may be taboo to talk about, but we think a healthy sex life is one of the pillars supporting your quest for longevity.
Sex is the last S in our longevity-promoting “BEAMSSSS” protocol.
Sexual health and longevity
Sexual health and longevity are intimately linked, with research suggesting that individuals who are sexually active and fulfilled tend to have lower mortality rates and longer lifespans than those who are not (Cornwell et al., 2019). In one Welsh study, men who reported having sex at least 1-2 times a week experienced a 50% reduced all-cause mortality rate over ten years compared to those who were not sexually active (Davey Smith et al., 2003). Several other studies have found similar associations in men, highlighting the importance of sexual activity for longevity.
Interestingly, the quantity of sex seems to be a significant factor in men’s longevity. In contrast, the QUALITY of sex (i.e., whether a woman finds pleasure in it) appears to be more important for women’s longevity. One study found that for women, sexual satisfaction was significantly associated with better health and lower mortality rates (Borges et al., 2017).
The benefits of sex go beyond longevity and include physical, mental, emotional, and social advantages. For instance, sexual activity has been found to reduce blood pressure, alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety, and improve self-esteem (Brody et al., 2006; Brody et al., 2010). Sexual activity can also reduce pain, boost the immune system, and improve brain function, likely due to the release of hormones such as oxytocin, dopamine, and serotonin, as well as endorphins, the body’s natural feel-good chemicals, during sexual activity (Gianotten et al., 2010; Komisaruk et al., 2011).
Additionally, sexual activity can also serve as a form of exercise known to promote longevity. Finally, staying sexually healthy and curious can promote closer, longer-lasting relationships, which are considered one of the foundations of health and longevity (Liu et al., 2016).
In conclusion, sexual health is an essential aspect of overall health and well-being, with research showing a connection between sexual activity, satisfaction, and longevity. Whether engaging in sexual activity with a partner or yourself, maintaining a healthy sex life can lead to numerous physical, mental, emotional, and social benefits.
Ready to jumpstart your Sexual Health? Below you’ll find three Action Steps that you can implement today. If you’re feeling even more ambitious, try our “Lightning Strikes” to further up-level your sexual health and happiness.
- Write down how you’re feeling these days about sex. Has anything changed recently? Are there any areas where you think you need help? Are you happy with how things are?
- If you have a partner, talk to him/her about how THEY feel about your sex life. Are they getting what they need? Are there things you could do to help?
- If you want to have more sex, make it a priority. Put it on your calendar so you make SURE it happens!!
- Do a 10-minute Touch Meditation (alone or with a partner) – this can be as PG or as R-rated as you wish, but take time to focus on how good simple touch can feel.
- Schedule a “date night” with your partner where you try something new and exciting, such as a new restaurant or activity.
- Start a “sex-positive book club” with friends to read and discuss books on sexuality and relationships. Some examples that we love: “She comes first,” “Come as you are,” “Sex at Dawn.”
To build your better tomorrow, take care of your sexual health (whether you have a partner or not!). This is one area of health where NOBODY else can tell you what is correct, best, or optimal. It is up to you to decide what it means to be sexually healthy. Once you determine what works for you, create time in your schedule to create the sex life you want. This is one thing that we can’t do for you!
By Amy Killen, MD
Borges, A., Lee, J. W., & Ellison, C. G. (2017). Religious attendance, gender roles, and health among American women. Journal of Religion and Health, 56(5), 1635-1653.
Brody, S., Kruger, T. H., & Schützwohl, M. (2006). Low sexual desire in women: The role of interoceptive awareness. Hormones and Behavior, 49(3), 338-343.
Brody, S., Krüger, T. H., Klapilová, K., & Andrews, P. (2010). The post-orgasmic prolactin increase following intercourse is greater than following masturbation and suggests greater satiety. Biological psychology, 85(1), 1-9.
Cornwell, E. Y., Waite, L. J., & Mehta, N. K. (2019). Social disconnectedness, perceived isolation, and health among older adults. Journal of health and social behavior, 60(2), 181-198.
Davey Smith, G., Frankel, S., & Yarnell, J. (2003). Sex and death: are they related? Findings from the Caerphilly cohort study. BMJ, 327(7410), 1459-1461.