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Stress is so commonplace, people just accept it as normal. We work, take care of our families, run errands, and try to fit in exercise, friends, cleaning… the list goes on and on. Sound familiar? We have no doubt that it does.

We don’t have to tell you about the physiological toll that stress takes on you. Not only can it have a huge impact on your physical and emotional health, but it can greatly affect your productivity, relationships, and overall quality of life, as well.

 

In fact, chronic stress has been linked to headaches, stomach issues, high blood pressure, and other heart problems, as well as insomnia and restless sleep. It also weakens your immunity, making it harder for your body to fight off illness and disease. And on an emotional level, chronic stress can cause depression and anxiety.

Yikes…….right!!?

Fortunately, there is good news. Not only are there natural, effective stress relievers, but one in particular is particularly enjoyable, if not surprising….sex.

dominoes falling

                   The Sex-Stress Connection!!

There are a couple of ways sex helps to reduce stress, both of which involve hormones (though not the ones you’d think).

First is dopamine, the “feel good” hormone that energizes and elevates your mood. Not only does dopamine have a powerful antidepressant effect, but it also supports alertness, optimism, motivation, zest for life, and sex drive.

 

This is important, because when you are sexually aroused your brain releases dopamine, which not only increases your brain’s pleasure system, but also lets stress take a back seat.1

 

Second, when you are turned on, cortisol levels drop.2 Given that cortisol is your primary stress hormone, anything that decreases cortisol decreases your risk for chronic stress-related issues, including increased blood sugar and triglyceride levels.

 

This was seen in one study specifically. Researchers asked 46 participants (24 women, 22 men) to keep a log of their sexual activity.3 After putting the participants in a variety of stressful situations, researchers found that those people who had intercourse not only had lower pressure, but they also responded better to stress than those people who abstained.

                     Sex and Overall Health

Smiling woman cooking

Reducing stress is just one of the many benefits of regular sex. In fact, it may because of lower stress that sex is just so darn good for you.

 

Many of the conditions improved by 

reduced stress. For example, in addition to lowering blood pressure, sex has also been associated with decreased risk for cardiovascular disease. Researchers found that those men who had sex two or more times a month had a lower risk of heart disease than those who had sex just once monthly.4

 

Sex can even boost immunity. After studying a group of college students, researchers found that those who had the most sex—one to two times per week—had the highest levels of salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA), an antibody that protects you from viruses, bacteria, etc.5

 

Additionally, regular sex has been found to improve bladder control in women and lower the risk of prostate cancer.6 And, if you are looking for a rebuttal to the common “I’ve got a headache” excuse for avoiding sex, research shows that sex actually helps to ease headaches.7

 

Finally, as any romantic comedy will show you, sex is often quickly followed by sleep. That’s because your body releases the hormone prolactin shortly after orgasm. In addition to promoting relaxation, prolactin also triggers sleepiness.

                                          * * * 

What more incentive do you need? Whether you start with cuddling, caressing, hand holding, and other forms of physical intimacy or jump straight into the sack, just dim the lights, shut the door, and enjoy safe sex.

smiling woman in a sunset

Tell us about your stress relieving solutions.....

References:

1. Maclaran K and Panay N. Managing low sexual desire in women. Women's Health (Lond). 2011 Sep;7(5):571-81.

2. Hamilton LD and Meston CM. The role of salivary cortisol and DHEA-S in response to sexual, humorous, and anxiety-inducing stimuli. Horm Behav. 2011 May;59(5):765-71.

3. Brody S. Blood pressure reactivity to stress is better for people who recently had penile-vaginal intercourse than for people who had other or no sexual activity. Biol Psychol. 2006 Feb;71(2):214-22.

4. Hall SA, et al. Sexual activity, erectile dysfunction, and incident cardiovascular events. Am J Cardiol. 2010 Jan 15;105(2):192-7.

5. Charnetski CJ and Brennan FX. Sexual frequency and salivary immunoglobulin A(IgA). Psychol Rep. 2004 Jun;94(3 Pt 1):839-44.

6. Leitzmann MF, et al. Ejaculation frequency and subsequent risk of prostate cancer. JAMA. 2004 Apr 7;291(13):1578-86.

7. Hambach A, et al. The impact of sexual activity on idiopathic headaches: an observational study. Cephalalgia. 2013 Apr;33(6):384-9.