We are all sexual beings and most of us realize what a positive impact great sex has on our lives but few of us know exactly how it benefits us. Some studies have shown that if you have someone who really loves your, and you love them in return, you may be three to five times less likely at risk of premature death and disease from all causes.
Positive Self Esteem. Rightly or wrongly, many of us link our self esteem to sex. We equate sex to being loved and it feels great to have someone love us. Great sex can make us feel like we can move mountains. Poor sex (or no sex) deflates us and we begin to ask ourselves what is wrong with us.
By focusing on positive sexual experiences, alone or with a partner, we can change how we feel about ourselves. We appreciate it can be a challenge at first to put your needs out there but by doing so, it should have a material impact on your self esteem.
Decreased Pain, PMS and Depression. We know when you are feeling down, the last thing you want to do is jump into bed but maybe that is the solution. Increased blood flow saturates your cells, organs and muscles with fresh oxygen and hormones and removes waste products that cause fatigue and even illness.
During orgasm, a female's level of oxytocin surges and endorphins are released. Studies have show that these endorphins alleviate the pain of everything from headaches to arthritis (there goes the “I’ve got a headache” excuse!). Estrogen released during sex can also reduce some PMS symptoms.
Gordon Gallup, an American psychologist, as quoted in an article on WebMD, stated that "Semen appears to act as an antidepressant in women. In our studies, women who have unprotected sex have lower levels of depression, as measured on the gold standard evaluation tool, than those who have the same amount of sex with a condom.”
Stronger Immune System. Manfred Schedlovski, a Swiss researcher, found that during sexual intercourse, number of phagocytes, cells that rid the body of various aliments, tends to increase significantly; oftentimes, number of these cells almost doubles after orgasm. This in turn enables these cells to detect and destroy antibodies more quickly.
The University of Pennsylvania conducted a study on undergraduates and found that those who had sex once or twice a week, showed a higher levels of antibodies called immunoglobin A, which are know boost the immune system. That being said, there was no material increase in the participants who engaged in very frequent sex. While they did not come to definitive answer, it is theorized that these individuals have more stress and anxiety which leads to a naturally higher level of immunoglobin A.
More Interesting Exercise: Stronger Muscles, Heart, and Bones. Sex is exercise. It burns approximately 200 calories (translation: 15 minutes on a treadmill) and the muscular contractions during intercourse work the pelvis, thighs, buttocks, arms and thorax. (Who knew your partner was a multi-gym.)
Sex also makes our heart happy. During sex our pulse rate increases from approximately 70 bpm to 150 bpm. British researchers from Queen’s University, found that men who had sex twice or more a week had a lower risk of heart attack over the course of 10 years than men who had sex less often. A follow up study showed that men who had sex three or more times a week, reduced their risk of heart attack and stroke by half.
Testosterone released during sex also can lead to stronger bones and muscles.
Men’s Health magazines went so far as to call the bed the single greatest piece of exercise equipment ever invented.
Healthier Prostate. This is a really sensitive area but we’ll address it anyways. Some urologists believe they see a relationship between the infrequency of ejaculation and prostate cancer. “The causal argument goes like this: To produce seminal fluid, the prostate and the seminal vesicles take such substances from the blood as zinc, citric acid and potassium, then concentrate them up to 600 times. Any carcinogens present in the blood likewise would be concentrated. Rather than have concentrated carcinogens hanging around causing trouble, it's better to evict them. Regular old sex could do the job. But if the flushing of the prostate were your only objective, masturbation might be a better way to go, especially for the nonmonogamous male. Having sex with multiple partners can, all by itself, raise a man's risk of cancer by up to 40%. That's because he runs an increased risk of contracting sexual infections. So, if you want all the purported benefits of flushing with none of the attendant risk, go digital. A study recently published by the British Journal of Urology International asserts that men in their 20s can reduce by a third their chance of getting prostate cancer by ejaculating more than five times a week.” (quoted directly from Forbes.com)
Dr, Dean Ornish, author of ‘Love and Survival: the Scientific Basis for the Healing Power of Intimacy’.
What are Sexually Transmitted Infections?
Sexually transmitted infections (or STIs for short) are a category of infections that are transmitted primarily through sexual activity. Almost all STIs can be transmitted through other social contact, but the most common transmissions happen sexually. Also, there are infections that can be transmitted sexually, but are not classified as STIs. In the past, STIs have also been referred to as STDs (sexually transmitted diseases) and VD (venereal disease). The use of the term infection is more accurate, since not all STIs are diseases.
There are two main categories for STIs: bacterial infections and viral infections. Bacterial infections can be cured, whereas viral infections can only be treated (but remain in your body). The most common bacterial STIs include bacterial vaginosis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, and urinary tract infections. Common viral STIs are hepatitis, herpes, HIV, and human papilloma virus (HPV). There are also infections such as pubic lice and scabies which are sexually transmitted, but are neither bacterial nor viral. Having pubic lice or scabies can be treated and cured.
The symptoms associated with STIs vary from infection to infection, and differ between men and women. However, symptoms resulting from infection may not present, or may not be noticeable. In general, if you are concerned about exposure to an STI, it’s important to see a medical provider and be tested. Bacterial STIs do have symptoms in common, which can include unusual discharge from the penis or vagina, abdominal pain, and painful urination. These symptoms may not mean that you have an STI, but definitely warrant a visit with your medical provider as soon as possible!
Transmission of STIs also has variation between the different types of infections. Usually, an exchange of infected bodily fluids is involved, though some STIs can be transmitted from skin-to-skin contact of infected areas. Using a condom or other form of barrier to prevent to the spread of bodily fluids will help to reduce the risk of transmitting STIs. With some STIs that are transmitted from skin-to-skin contact, such as herpes, it is important to communicate with your partner about your activity to ensure that infected skin is not exposed to uninfected skin.
Bacterial infections can be cured with a prescription from your medical provider, while viral infections will require the development of an ongoing treatment plan. Pubic lice and scabies can be treated and cured using shampoos and prescription medication. However, not treating an STI can cause long-term damage, especially in the female reproductive system. Over time, untreated STIs may cause blindness and even death.
Sexually transmitted infections are a significant risk of unprotected sexual activity. However, with preparation and open communication between you and your partner, you can ensure that you can stay safe and healthy. Remember, if you are ever concerned about exposure, make plans to meet with your medical provider as soon as possible!
How Does HIV Transmission Happen?
The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is what is known as a blood borne pathogen. This means that HIV is transmitted only through blood and blood-based bodily fluids. This includes blood, seminal fluid, vaginal secretions, and breast milk. An HIV infection can occur when an infected blood-based bodily fluid enters the bloodstream. Fluid entry to the bloodstream happens during unprotected vaginal and anal sex, using needles, and interacting orally with fluids when cuts and abrasions are present in the mouth. HIV transmission also can occur during pregnancy, between an infected mother and her child.
Entry to the bloodstream cannot occur through healthy, in-tact skin. Getting an infected bodily fluid on healthy skin cannot transmit HIV. For HIV transmission to occur, the fluid must make contact with the bloodstream. And remember, HIV travels only in the blood, so dealing with non-blood-based bodily fluids dose not pose a risk for HIV infection (though transmission of other sexually transmitted infections may be possible). There is no risk for HIV transmission with the exchange of saliva, sweat, tears, urine, or fecal matter.
Certain activities are riskier for HIV transmission than others. For example, unprotected anal sex is riskier than unprotected vaginal sex, because the anus creates an easier access to the bloodstream. Some activities carry significantly less risk altogether. Mutual masturbation is one such activity, because fluids will not come in contact with an entry to the bloodstream. Be careful, though! Even low-risk activities can become high-risk activities if there are cuts, abrasions, and sores on the skin. These create pathways to the bloodstream.
Any type of penetrative sex is considered a high-risk activity. However, penetrative sex can be safer with the use of latex or polyurethane condoms. When used correctly, condoms eliminate the exchange of bodily fluids between partners, reducing the risk of HIV transmission. Male condoms are the most common type of condom, and can be used for vaginal, oral, and anal sex with a male. Female condoms are also available for vaginal and anal sex with a male. Be sure to read the instructions included on the condom packaging before use.
Infected bodily fluids can be present when using sex toys for penetrative sex. An easy way to avoid infection is to use a condom on sex toys prior to each instance of penetration.
Oral sexual activity carries some risk for HIV infection, primarily because cuts and abrasions can be present in the mouth without your knowledge. For oral stimulation of the penis, a male condom is highly effective in preventing fluid exchange. Oral stimulation of the vagina and anus require a little more creativity. There are latex barriers for purchase, but you may find it more economical to purchase plastic wrap (non-microwavable!), which prevents fluid exchange.
There is currently no cure or vaccine for HIV, so stay safe to prevent the exchange of infected blood, semen, vaginal secretions, or breast milk. The Centers for Disease Control recommend annual testing for HIV for anyone who is sexually active.