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Lovemaking can boost your heart, clear a stuffy nose, and even fight off Covid, study shows 

Having more sex is probably not the advice you expect from your doctor.

But judging by the latest research, an active sex life can be just as important as watching your diet, moderating alcohol consumption and quitting smoking to improve health.

Granted, ‘improving your health’ isn’t usually at the top of your mind when you think about sex, but immunity, cardiovascular health, and depression are just some of the areas where studies suggest sexual activity may have a benefit, says Kaye Wellings. Professor of Sexual and Reproductive Health at the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine.

Research shows it may help reduce the risk of heart disease and incontinence.

And last year, a study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility showed that sexual activity at least three times a month was linked to a milder Covid-19 infection.

The theory is that it prepares the body to treat pathogens more effectively.

A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that sexual activity at least three times a month was linked to a milder Covid-19 infection

A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility found that sexual activity at least three times a month was linked to a milder Covid-19 infection

This followed a 2004 study in the journal Psychological Reports, which found that sexual intercourse once or twice a week increases levels of immunoglobulin A, part of the immune system’s antibody response that defends us against infection.

Another study suggested that orgasms can clear a stuffy nose just as effectively as a nasal spray, Ear, Nose & Throat magazine reported last year — likely because exercise has also been shown to be a decongestant, as the resulting increase in body temperature loosens mucus. , while the increase in blood circulation promotes the course of nasal secretion.

And research from University College London found that women who were sexually active at least monthly had a later menopause than women who were not sexually active.

The researchers suggest that if sexual activity is not detected, the body deprioritizes ovulation, triggering menopause.

It can also be good for mental health. A study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in January found that people who maintained a sexual relationship during lockdown — whether they lived with their partner or not — were 34 percent less likely to suffer from depression than those who didn’t.

In fact, some experts believe that sex is such an important barometer of general health that it should be discussed more widely by doctors with their patients – but this rarely happens.

“As a doctor, you like to ask women about their menstrual cycles, but sexual activity is something we rarely talk about,” says Geoffrey Hackett, a urologist and professor of men’s health at Aston University in Birmingham.

“And the problem is worse in men, but knowing if a man has regular erections tells me a lot about his health.”

The inability to have an erection can have a number of causes, but can occur due to blockages in the arteries that supply the penis with blood, a possible sign of hairy arteries elsewhere in the body.

Being physically able to have sex also indicates a certain level of fitness.

“We estimate that 20 minutes of sexual activity in a man is the equivalent of walking a mile, and that’s a reasonable amount of physical exertion if you do it often enough,” says Professor Hackett.

During sex, men burned an average of 100 calories and their heart rate rose to 170 beats per minute — which helps strengthen the heart — according to research published in February in the Archives of Sexual Behavior.

Men who have sex two to three times a week are 45 percent less likely to have a heart attack than men who have sex once a month or less, the American Journal of Cardiology reported in 2010.

Professor Hackett points to the Caerphilly Heart Disease Study, set up in 1979, which involved 914 men aged 45 to 59, which showed that the number of deaths from heart disease doubled over 20 years in men who had intercourse once a month in comparison. with men who had sex twice a week.

A study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in January found that people who maintained a sexual relationship during lockdown — whether they lived with their partner or not — were 34 percent less likely to suffer from depression than those who didn't.

A study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in January found that people who maintained a sexual relationship during lockdown — whether they lived with their partner or not — were 34 percent less likely to suffer from depression than those who didn't.

A study in The Journal of Sexual Medicine in January found that people who maintained a sexual relationship during lockdown — whether they lived with their partner or not — were 34 percent less likely to suffer from depression than those who didn’t.

“I recommend that men and women engage in some kind of sexual activity twice a week,” he says.

The exercise is thought to help explain why it might improve immunity — specifically increasing levels of immunoglobulin A, which exercise has also been shown to improve.

It’s not just the effort – there are specific elements of sexual activity that can improve health, too.

A 2016 study from Harvard University published in the journal European Urology found that ejaculating more than 20 times a month reduced prostate cancer risk by 20 percent for men ages 20 to 50 — the theory being that it “flushes the system.” , says Professor Hackett.

Meanwhile, arousal and orgasm in women have been linked to improved pelvic floor strength and reduced incontinence, which are thought to be related to muscle contractions.

However, it’s unclear “whether regular sexual activity makes people healthier or whether healthy people are more likely to have regular sex,” says Professor Wellings.

It is also important to help patients with a diagnosis maintain a sex life.

Patients whose sexual health is addressed “have a better quality of life, better pain management, and better relationships with their partners and their healthcare team,” Dr. Narjust Duma, an oncologist at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, USA, recently at the World Conference on Lung Cancer.

But Professor Wellings emphasizes that while regular sex is “probably important, I don’t want people to think that because they don’t have sex as often or don’t have a partner to have sexual activity with, they end up sick.”

“Many of the benefits of sexual activity can be obtained in non-sexual ways, such as exercising or hugging friends and family.”

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