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    Just 21 Ways Sex Is Really, Really Good For You

    It’s not just about burning calories. We’re talking possibly helping migraines and kidneys.

    1. Good news: Lockdown sex may reduce your risk of developing anxiety and depression.

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    We’ll be real: The initial COVID-19 lockdown sucked. As the pandemic remains a large part of our world moving forward, just know that if you were getting laid, you got lucky in more ways than one! According to a new study, people who engaged in sexual activity during lockdown had significantly lower scores when tested for anxiety and depression. As it turns out, lockdown sex protected some against mood disorders triggered by the quarantine. 

    2. And in general, having sex today may help with your anxiety tomorrow.

    A backlit image of a couple with their foreheads touching
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    Talk about an enduring impact! In one study, college students kept a daily diary about their sexual activity, social anxiety, and use of social comparisons for 21 days. Researchers found that those who engaged in any form of sexual activity later experienced less social anxiety and comparison anxiety, with effects lasting till the next day. Even more so if the sex was good and intimate!

    3. Tired of fighting with your partner? Makeup sex could help you bounce back quicker.

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    In one experiment, couples were placed under the Trier social stress test, and their cortisol (aka the stress hormone) levels were recorded before and after stress. Women who engaged in physical intimacy had reduced cortisol responses to stress, while men who did so experienced faster cortisol recovery after stress than those who didn't. Guess it's time to kiss and make it better! 

    4. Sex may stop your memory from getting worse.

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    Cognitive decline (aka worsening long-term memory) happens to most adults as a natural part of aging. But having sex more frequently and feeling emotionally close to your partner during sex were linked to better memory test scores after two years! This association is even stronger among older adults. Well, sex on the brain ain’t such a bad thing now, huh.

    5. And it could totally keep your mind sharp too!

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    Your executive-function skills include being able to think, exercise self-control…essentially everything you need to navigate daily life. According to this study, older men who were sexually active scored better on number-sequencing tests, while sexually active women had better memory recall! 

    6. Frequent sex can even help you pass kidney stones.

    Kidney stones lying in a pool of ejaculate, with text stating, "Sex helps you pass kidney stones? Oh yes!"
    Kidney Stones — Worst Pain Ever / Via Facebook: worstpainever

    One in 10 people will suffer from kidney stones, which have been known to hurt more than childbirth. Yikes! The good news is that having sex at least three times a week can help you pass stones much quicker. According to two random controlled trials, having sex at least three times a week increased the spontaneous passing of kidney stones in both men and women.

    7. And plenty of masturbation can be as effective as oral medication for kidney stones!

    Cartoon of sperm swimming with a kidney stone: "My kidney stone got stuck mid-shaft, so I took matters into my own hand"
    Kidney Stones — Worst Pain Ever / Via Facebook: worstpainever

    Tamsulosin, commonly sold as Flomax, is the first-line treatment for many kidney stone patients. A study of 128 male kidney stone patients discovered that masturbation three times a week was slightly more effective than Tamsulosin treatment. It also reduced patients’ need for painkillers. Now, how handy is that!

    8. Ejaculating more may mean a lower risk of prostate cancer.

    Meme of Gru from "Minions" teaching with a whiteboard, only to find a mistake: "No Nut November promotes prostate health awareness"; "Not Nutting for November is bad for your prostate health"
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    After following up with 32,000 men over a span of 18 years, researchers found that men who ejaculated more than 21 times in a month were 20% less likely to get prostate cancer than those who ejaculated fewer than seven times a month. Some experts think that's due to the buildup of toxins in semen, while others think that more research has to be done. It doesn’t matter if it’s sex or masturbation — we think it’s still worth a try!  

    9. If you’re struggling with chronic pelvic pain caused by endometriosis, nonpenetrative sex is still sex and can be great!

    An image of a woman clutching her abdomen in pain
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    Endometriosis is a painful chronic condition where tissue that is similar to the lining of the uterus grows elsewhere. This can cause chronic inflammation and make it difficult to have an orgasm during intercourse. But hey, sex goes beyond just penetration — for lots of people with different chronic conditions and just different sexual preferences! This study found that the ability to orgasm during noncoital sexual activities was associated with higher sexual satisfaction in women with endometriosis, although no such link was found among the control group. Researchers suggest that integrating noncoital sexual activities may lead to fewer sex-related problems and increase sexual desire and satisfaction for women with endometriosis!

    10. Vibrators may help stop you from premature ejaculation.

    An image of a pink wand vibrator on a pink background
    Anna Blazhuk / Getty Images

    If you’ve ever been ashamed about ejaculating in less than a minute, you’re not alone. In the US, approximately 1 in 3 men have experienced premature ejaculation, and it’s one of the most common sexual complaints for men. But the use of vibrators combined with “start-stop” exercises led to a significant improvement in premature ejaculation symptoms, according to a recent clinical trial.

    11. A happy and fulfilling sex life is good for your self-esteem and mental health, especially if you have a physical disability.

    12. Quality matters! Good sex is great for your heart.

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    Jayk7 / Getty Images

    Quality over quantity, amirite? For women in particular, sexual pleasure is linked to a reduced risk of hypertension and better cardiovascular health later in life. According to this study,  women who reported being extremely physically pleasured or emotionally satisfied during sex performed better when tested for cardiovascular risk. It’s never too late to start asking for what you want in bed!   

    13. Sex gets your blood pumping, the same way a brisk walk would.

    An image of a couple entangled in sheets
    Eclipse_images / Getty Images

    When we say that sex is a form of exercise, we’re talking about more than just burning calories. Sexual activity raises your heart rate and blood pressure to a level comparable to stages I and II of the Bruce treadmill protocol for women and men respectively. That’s like walking at 1.7 mph on a 10% incline for women, or 2.5 mph on a 12% incline for men! 

    14. An active sex life has been associated with reduced symptoms of Parkinson’s disease.

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    Lpettet / Getty Images

    Nearly 1 million people in the US suffer from Parkinson’s disease, a neurodegenerative disorder that causes tremors and balance problems and has no cure. For these patients, having an active sex life can help to improve their quality of life. Over two years, Parkinson's patients who were sexually active also reported less severe motor disabilities and reduced nonmotor symptoms, such as gastrointestinal issues.

    15. Mind-blowing sex may be the solution to your brain-busting headaches.

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    Based on this survey of 400 patients, more than 73% of men and 58% of women who had sex during a migraine episode experienced moderate to complete relief after. While sex didn't work so well for patients with cluster headaches, it was extra effective for men with migraines. Some male patients even started using sex as an acute treatment for migraines! 

    16. Successful aging starts with staying sexually active as you get older.

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    Sex plays a huge role in your well-being, whether you're in your twenties or your sixties! Older adults who had any form of sexual activity in the past year scored higher in the quality-of-life index than those who didn’t. In particular, having sex and kissing more than twice a month really makes a difference! 

    17. Frequent masturbation or sexual activity can prevent the onset of erectile dysfunction.

    A screencap of Aubrey Plaza from "The To-Do List"
    CBS Studios

    Forty percent of people with penises will struggle to develop or maintain an erection by the time they turn 40, and the risk merely increases with age. However, putting your penis to use could help stave off the risk of erectile dysfunction! In this study, men were asked to report their sexual activity and were tested for their sexual function. Those who masturbated or had sex twice a week were 63% less likely to develop ED than those who did so less than once a week; those who did so at least three times a week were 85% less likely! 

    18. Pleasuring yourself with a hot new sex toy can ease symptoms of menopause.

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    All people with ovaries will experience menopause, and the decline in estrogen levels often leads to a range of uncomfortable symptoms such as hot flashes. Dr. Stephanie de Giorgio, a general practitioner at the National Health Service in the UK, shares that “one unexpected benefit of sex toy use, seen in a study of menopausal women, was an improvement in sleep and overnight menopausal sweating.” While we can't run from natural menopause, it seems like we can introduce a little pleasure — and relief — into the otherwise challenging process! 

    19. Sex could help with your allergies.

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    Because of the linkages between our nose and genitalia in the sympathetic nervous system, a neurobiologist has suggested that sex could help with clearing your nose during an allergy attack. While no clinical trials have been conducted, several other ENT specialists agree that it could help. Dr. Marc Goldstein, chief of allergy and immunology at Pennsylvania Hospital, especially recommends standing sex positions to avoid worsening nasal congestion

    20. Boost your body’s immune system with a weekly sex sesh.

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    Immunoglobulin A (IgA) is an antigen in your saliva and mucous membranes that helps protect you from colds and flus. In this now-iconic study, college students reported their frequency of sexual activity and had their saliva samples tested. As it turns out, getting down and dirty at least once a week could boost your IgA levels by 30%. Interestingly, participants who had sex more than three times a week didn't experience such benefits. Stay safe and stay sexy, folks! 

    21. And as your immune system reacts to your sexual behavior, it could make you more fertile, even when you’re not ovulating!

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    If you’re trying to get pregnant, here’s a reason to keep trying, even when you're not at your most fertile! Researchers have found that having regular sex, even outside the ovulation phase, causes your immune system to respond in ways that can increase your chances of conception. Sexually active, nonpregnant women experienced changes in their levels of helper T cells, immunoglobulin A, and immunoglobulin G throughout their menstrual cycle. These shifts suggest that the immune system was preparing for pregnancy, and sexually abstinent women did not experience such changes at all. The authors suggest that these findings could even change the way autoimmune disorders are treated in the future! 

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