The one true way

Pub date July 15, 2009

Dear Readers:

WebMD sent out this slightly goofy "10 Amazing Health Benefits of Sex." Among the benefits of "healthy loving in a relationship," according to the article (summaries mine) are:

1. Less stress: Volunteers kept sex diaries and were then subjected to stressful situations. "Those who had intercourse had better responses to stress than those who engaged in other sexual behaviors or abstained."


2. Immunity: "People who have sex once or twice a week produce more immunoglobulin A (IgA). Subjects who reported having less or a whole lot more sex have lower IgA."

Huh. Moderation in all things, right? I guess we shouldn’t be surprised to find it applies to sex. But does it, or were there other factors here?

3. Calories: "Thirty minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more," claims WebMD. "It may not sound like much, but it adds up: 42 half-hour sessions will burn 3,570 calories, more than enough to lose a pound. Doubling up, you could drop that pound in 21 hour-long sessions."

Forty-two half-hour sessions will take most couples months to achieve. You’d be better off on a treadmill.

4. Cardiovascular: Researchers found that neither having nor not-having sex was correlated with strokes. More impressive, they "also found that having sex twice or more a week reduced the risk of fatal heart attack by half for the men, compared with those who had sex less than once a month."

Both loneliness and the death of a spouse are highly correlated with dropping dead.

5. Self-esteem: "Boosting self-esteem was one of 237 reasons people have sex." Hahaha! 237 is a mighty big number. You could fit anything in there. Reason No. 235: free rent.

6. Intimacy: "Sex and orgasms raise levels of oxytocin, the famous bonding, trust, and generosity hormone." The article goes on to cite a study showing that women’s levels of oxytocin rise after "warm contact" and hugs with their husbands, but you don’t need sex to get that.

7. Pain: "In a study published in the Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine, 48 volunteers who inhaled oxytocin vapor and then had their fingers pricked lowered their pain threshold by more than half."


8. Prostate cancer: "Men who had five or more ejaculations weekly while in their 20s reduced their risk of getting prostate cancer later by a third."

There are a lot of similar studies supporting this.

9. Sleep: Oxytocin and exercise promote sleep, and lack of same is correlated with every bad thing from divorce to weight gain.That’s … nine. I lost one somewhere.

Of course, few of us need a specific reason to have sex, nor are we likely to be sufficiently motivated by any of the above to go get some, if not already inclined.