Sometimes it can seem like the stuff that is good for you is the opposite of what feels good: choosing carrot sticks over cupcakes or climbing on the treadmill instead of binge-watching Netflix on the couch. But that kind of tradeoff is not the case when it comes to sex. Decades of scientific research have illuminated bonafied connections between getting off and getting well. Sexual pleasure is like a supervitamin for mind and body.
Here are our top ten, scientifically documented health benefits of getting off:
1. Live Longer
A number of studies show that satisfaction in bed correlates with overall longevity. One 25-year study tracked frequency and enjoyment of sexual intercourse in relation to longevity. For women, more frequent sex didn't necessarily mean living longer, but women who reported past enjoyment of sexual activity lived longer.
2. Live healthier
Researchers have looked at the relationship between sexual activity and disease including heart disease and breast cancer. A study of 100 Israeli women found a connection between sexual pleasure and a lower history of heart attacks. A French case-control study found a connection between frequent sexual activity (defined as intercourse more than once per month) and a lower risk of breast cancer. A series of recent studies have found that sexual activity contributes to a smaller waist size for men and women. This is about more than just bikini season - a lower waist circumference is directly connected to a lower risk of heart disease and a lower risk of type-2 diabetes.
3. Sleep better
Orgasms cause a surge in oxytocin (the body's natural "cuddle chemical") which may act as a sedative and lead to better sleep. One study of over 1,866 US women found that 32% of the women who reported masturbating in the previous three months did so to help go to sleep.
4. Hurt less
Studies show that sexual stimulation increases a woman's pain threshold. Researchers Whipple and Komisaurak hypothesized in a recent Atlantic article that the pain reduction of vaginal stimulation may be designed to relieve pain during childbirth. Masturbation can even relieve migraine headaches. Multiple studies confirm that while masturbation is less effective than some other treatments, it is more rapid. In a 2000 study, 9% of women who masturbated did so to relieve menstrual cramps.
5. Stay calm
Orgasm relieves tension and lowers anxiety by releasing oxytocin–the body's own sedative. A survey of 2,632 U.S. women found that 39% who masturbated did so to relax.
6. Age gracefully
Sexual activity is correlated not only with youthful appearance but also with alleviating certain post-menopausal symptoms. Women who remain sexually active after menopause–either with a partner or through masturbation–are less likely to experience vaginal atrophy or issues with vaginal lubrication. See also this 1997 study of postmenopausal women and this 2004 study.
7. Be happy
8. Love more
Not only does partner sex promotes bonding and intimacy through the release of oxytocin, but the joys of masturbation make for happier couples. A 1991 study of married women found that those who reported masturbating also reported greater marital satisfaction.
9. Get rhythm
Frequent sexual activity and excitement has been shown to help regulate menstrual cycles.
10. Feel hot
No surprise here. Sexual pleasure makes you feel great about your body. A 1991 study found that women who masturbate experience higher self-esteem, a more positive body image and less sexual anxiety.
Let's get it on.