Sex and Relationships – The Basics

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It has been said that relationships are the key to happiness. While not the only factor, the truth is that the relationships that you form, both sexual and platonic, are great for your health and happiness. Every person is different, with varied likes and dislikes, but the important thing is to have a good life or work balance and spend time with people who make you happy. Happiness is the key to good health. A number of studies have found definite links between love, physical touch, emotional satisfaction and elevated mood and health, confirming that relationships are a key to health.

Summary: Sex and Relationships- The Basics

While sex isn’t the only thing you need to be healthy and happy, it definitely doesn’t hurt. In fact, sexual and platonic relationships both elevate health and happiness levels significantly. Sex, dating relationships, and friendships are all forms of intimacy that improve health and mood. Additionally, sex offers a form of exercise, generates better sleep quality, and reduces stress, while relationships are found to increase generosity, selflessness, and offer emotional support. It is unclear just how many benefits there are to sex and relationships, but there are definitely many of them!

Sexual HealthSex

Sex is a great form of exercise and has a number of benefits for your body and mind:

  • As well as being fun and elevating your mood, sex is a form of exercise and good for the heart. Sexual arousal raises the heart rate. Did you know that a 30-minute sex session can burn over 85 calories each time? It is wise not to use sex as your only form of exercise and to include some other activity into your lifestyle, but it is good news that exercise can be enjoyable and good for you.
  • According to a study by Rerkpattanapipat, Stanek and Kotler about Sex and the Heart, having existing heart problems, such as heart disease or previous stroke history, does not have to put a stop to your sex life altogether, especially if you are able to perform normal everyday activities (such as walking up stairs) without pain. If you’re worried about the strain of sex on your body or have any concerns about your sexual health, it is best to seek advice from your doctor.
  • Having an embrace (giving someone a hug) can help lower your blood pressure. Physical contact, such as cuddling or holding hands, is believed to lower your heart rate and blood pressure, improve your mood and release tension. Petting an animal, such as your family dog or cat, is said to have the same calming influence.
  • There are so many stresses in modern day life; having regular sex can help de-stress you and chase your worries away!
  • There is a link between sex, mental health and wellbeing. Those who have sex, particularly who are in a loving relationship or marriage are reported to have a good health status. Often when  you’re busy, making time for sex is the last thing on your mind, but with such positive influences on your wellbeing, it’s worth investing the time!
  • A study by Charnetski and Brennan (Sexual frequency and salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA). Psychology Report, 2004;94:839-44) has found a link between how often you have sex and how strong your immune system is. Those who have more frequent sex were reported to have 30% higher levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), which fights disease, than people have no, or little, sex. Your immune system is probably the last thing on your mind when you are in the throes of passion, but it is nice to know that being healthy can be fun.
  • Sex can help you feel confident in your own skin, banish body image issues, and boost your self-esteem. It is never a good idea to use sex as a way of feeling validated, as self-esteem comes from within, but feeling good about yourself certainly helps your self-confidence.
  • There are links between sex and good sleep. Having a good quality sleep, of approximately 8 hours, is crucial for your health and wellbeing, in helping your organs and muscles repair from exercise and day-to-day life. Sex promotes a restful night’s sleep.
  • The Journal of the Amercian Medical Association has found a link between sex in men (ejaculation) and a lower risk of prostate cancer in later life.
  • There are a number of places to turn if you have any concerns about sexual health (sexually transmitted diseases) or unplanned pregnancies, so ensure that you seek advice and use the necessary precautions.

Relationshipsrelationship

It is not just the sex in a relationship that is said to be good for your health, but the bond itself. Building friendly relationships and the emotion of love can help stop loneliness and enhance generosity, compassion, and selflessness. Of course, not every relationship is rosy (and stressful relationships should be avoided as much as possible), but studies have found that being in a happy marriage is good for your health. It has even been reported to fight angina and stomach ulcers in men.

Friendshipfriendship

Being in a relationship is not everyone’s cup of tea, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with being single. Single people can be just as healthy and happy as those who are married, in a loving relationship, or having regular sex. The key is to form friendships and spend time in the company of others. Isolating yourself will cause loneliness, which in turn has a negative effect on wellbeing. Whether it is watching a film, having a coffee and chat or better still, attending the gym or an exercise class with a close friend or group of friends, it is important to spend quality time with others and to have plans to look forward to and memories to share (and laugh about). Having an emotional support, somebody to confide in and share hobbies with can boost a person’s emotional wellbeing. As well as boosting your confidence and social skills, you’ll be able to reduce stress levels and learn from others.

They say that laughter is the best medicine, so don’t forget to make time for people who make you laugh and make you happy, whether this is having someone or something to come home to each day (such as a partner or pet), or social events in your diary!

References:
Rerkpattanapipat P, Stanek MS, MN Kotler. Sex and the heart: what is the role of the cardiologist? European Heart Journal 2001;22: 201-208.
Charnetski CJ, Brennan FX. Sexual frequency and salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA). Psychology Report, 2004;94:839-44.

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