As we celebrate heart month and think about how Valentine’s Day is just one week away, let’s talk about sex. So many are looking forward to an evening of love, romance and a happy ending in the boudoir. This is an excellent plan to not only connect with your partner, but also take care of your heart, literally. Let us take a look at how regular sex helps decrease your risk for heart disease.
Sex releases endorphins: Sex makes you feel good, physically and mentally right? But why? Sexual activity releases endorphins. Endorphins are feel good chemicals released by the pituitary gland in the brain after your muscles use up their energy stores. These chemicals are what someone feels after exercise, eating chocolate, listening to favorite music and having a good laugh. Hmmm, all things that go along with a romantic evening! The “high” that a person experiences from endorphins helps the body to completely relax.
Sex decreases stress: Regular sexual activity helps to decrease stress. Stress has been proven to be a major risk factor for heart disease. Prolonged stress leads to consistent increased levels of the hormones adrenaline and cortisol. These hormones are meant to help the body deal with an immediate threat and once the threat is over, the levels of these hormones are supposed to return to normal. When an individual is continuously stressed, the levels remain high. Adrenaline keeps the blood pressure and heart rate up and the cortisol increases the blood sugar. This can lead to heart disease or heart attack. Decreasing stress by focusing on regular consenting relations with your partner keeps stress hormones down thus benefiting your heart.
Sex helps to lower blood pressure: With the release of endorphins and decrease in stress, sex helps to lower a person’s blood pressure. Chronic high blood pressure leads to damaged and narrowed blood vessels. As a result, there is decreased blood flow. When there is a decrease in blood flow to the sex organs, issues such as erectile dysfunction, lack of feeling of pleasure and difficulty with reaching orgasm can occur. The American Heart Association recommends 30 minutes of moderate exercise 5 days a week for good cardiovascular health and 40 minutes of vigorous exercise 3-4 times a week to lower blood pressure and cholesterol. Average sexual activity is considered to be equivalent to mild to moderate exercise. So let’s be real, just as with any other exercise, the more you practice or engage, the more stamina you will have!
Sex promotes good sleep: Sound sleeping is so vital to our overall health. According to the National Sleep Foundation, adults who sleep less than 6 hours per night are two times as likely to suffer a heart attack or stroke compared to those who got more than 6 hours of sleep regularly. The hormones released during sex, oxytocin and prolactin, make you feel cuddly and sleepy. Sex also decreases cortisol levels (remember the stress hormone mentioned above). This combination of hormones promote good sleep and better sleep promotes an enhanced sex drive! Truly a win-win situation!
A study from the American Journal of Cardiology found that men who had sex at least twice a week were 45% less likely to develop heart disease than those who engaged once a month. This study focused on men as it was secondary to studies related to erectile dysfunction. One can only assume that since sex has the same effect on a woman’s hormones, that this statistic may be similar for women as well. And ladies, your risks and signs and symptoms are great.
So the lesson here is this: Love your sweetie and love yourself. Taking care of their intimate needs in turn takes care of your heart.