Sex can sharpen your brain
Unexpected health benefits of engaging in regular sex
Naveed Saleh, MD, MS
June 17, 2020
MDLinx – Americans are having less sex than they did 20 years ago, according to a recent survey study of trends in the frequency of sexual activity among US adults aged 18-44 years from 2000 to 2018.
And, if you think the pandemic’s quarantine measures may have affected this dry spell for the better, think again.
Most US adults actually reported a decrease in their sexual behavior during the early months of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a new study by Indiana University researchers.
While some health benefits of intercourse—like better mood and sleep—may seem like a given, there are some additional little-known perks to “ruffling the sheets.”
Here are the top unexpected benefits of engaging in regular sex.
Did you know that sex can sharpen your brain? In a small study published in Archives of Sexual Behavior, researchers found that in heterosexual women aged 18-29 years, self-reported frequency of intercourse was linked to better memory of abstract words (but not for neutral faces).
“Because memory for words depends to a large extent on the hippocampus, whereas memory for faces may rely to a greater extent on surrounding extra-hippocampal structures, our results appear to be specific for memory believed to rely on hippocampal function,” the authors wrote.
“This may suggest that neurogenesis in the hippocampus is higher in those women with a higher frequency of [penile-vaginal intercourse (PVI)], in line with previous animal research. Taken together, these results suggest that PVI may indeed have beneficial effects on memory function in healthy young women,” they concluded.
Improved heart health
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is known to predict cardiovascular disease (CVD), but how does sex relate to heart disease otherwise?
Results from a high-powered study published in the American Journal of Cardiology demonstrate that having less sex could be bad for the ticker regardless of erectile status in community-dwelling men aged 40 to 70 years.
Researchers found that having sex once monthly vs 2 or more times weekly was linked to increased risk of CVD.
Those engaging in frequent sexual activity may be healthier in ways not reflected in the data, and sex may protect heart health in some fashion.
Additionally, those who have frequent sex may be in a supportive relationship with a stable partner, thus boosting heart health via stress reduction and social support.
Lower blood pressure
Let’s face it, for most, sex is a pleasurable, stress-relieving activity. So, is it any surprise that it could lower blood pressure? … Read more.