Sex: Real feel-good medicine

Dear Friend,

I am always hearing from friends, family, patients, and combinations thereof about how much they hate exercising. As their official go-to guy for all things medical I get a lot of questions about ways to keep in shape. And, knowing me, they ask how to do it without breaking too much of a sweat, buying expensive equipment, or spending hours a week in a gym.

Ever the showman, I cross my arms, tilt my head gingerly, and pretend to take a few minutes pondering an answer–an answer that comes to mind a lot quicker than I’d actually care to admit.


Well, you can imagine the looks on their faces. Most of their faces anyway...

But it’s true. Great sex is not only fun and life affirming, it’s also one of the single best ways to improve cardiovascular health, calm the mind (if you’re doing it right), and burn off excess energy.

Since we’re all adults here I can tell you that it works wonders for me.

Sex: Real feel-good medicine

It really shouldn’t come as a surprise that I bill this as the “real feel-good medicine.” It’s completely natural, absolutely free, great for virtually every system in your body, and, unless certain stiffs in Washington get their way, completely immune to government regulation and interference.

Let me tell you, nothing puts a smile on a patient’s face like getting that particular prescription! The next time your wife says she’s “not in the mood” hit her with these potentially life-saving medical fun facts:

  • A British study of 900 middle-aged men published in 2002 found that those who had sex twice or more weekly enjoyed a significantly lower risk of heart attack than those who had sex less often.
  • A 2002 study published in the journal Gynecologic and Obstetric Investigation found that women who were regularly sexually active–including during menstruation–were 1.5 times less likely to develop endometriosis.
  • An April 2004 article in the Journal of the American Medical Association outlines a pair of studies that concluded–in sharp contrast to previous research–that frequent ejaculation can slash the risk of prostate cancer by as much as a third.
  • Research shows that in both sexes, orgasm releases oxytocin, a hormone that appears to regulate blood pressure and body temperature, relieve pain, and even promote the healing of wounds.
  • Sex also strengthens emotional bonds between partners–this “closeness factor” alone cuts the risk of heart attack by 50% according to some recent studies.

Not that you need to be sold on the virtues of good sex

But regular intercourse, even in small doses, can do wonders for the waistline. A person weighing 180 pounds burns 86 calories in just 15 minutes of sexual intercourse. That same person could burn 345 with an hour of the same nookie. And that’s not even counting foreplay!

You have to burn 3,500 more calories than you take in as food to lose one U.S. pound. Can you think of something more fun to do while you’re counting calories?

And regular sex has even been proven to help men in the, ahem, “maintenance” of their equipment. Researchers studied 989 men aged 55 to 75 and found that men who had sex less than once a week had twice the risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction as men who had sex at least once a week.

Seventy-nine of 1,000 men who had sex less than once a week experienced erection issues compared with 32 of those who had sex at least once a week. The real winners (in more ways than one) were the men who had sex THREE times a week (lucky fellas), of whom 16 experienced erectile dysfunction.

So there might just be something to that old saying “Use it or lose it” after all.

Everyone knows that good sex relieves stress, promotes good sleep, and boosts self-esteem, but once again, I’m treading into the common-sense realm of the “unproven.”

Bottom line: If you’re healthy enough for sex, have it whenever the spirit moves you–it’s good for you in a million different ways. And while you can’t get more wholesome and all natural than sex, even the smoothest Casanova needs a little advice on the Do’s and Don’ts of good lovemaking.