27/Oct/11 11:44 AM Filed in: Guest post | Sex | Sleep | Stress | Immune | Heart health | Pain | Cancer
Guest post originally published by Shelly Reitkop, ND
How many people think about the benefits of sex before they jump into the sack? Chances are, you don’t. Believe it or not, sex does more than just satisfy; it boosts your immune system, facilitates weight loss and even protects against cancer. I can easily give you 10 good reasons why you should maintain a healthy sex life.
1. Sex reduces stress
Sexual intercourse leads to the release of “happy hormones” called endorphins and a reduction in cortisol levels, the hormone released in response to stress. Prolonged elevation in cortisol levels lead to high blood pressure, suppressed thyroid function, impaired cognitive performance, increased abdominal fat and lowered immune function. Sex enhance the release of endorphins, the body’s natural “happy hormone.” Endorphins act as opiods and work to reduce pain, improve mood and aid with sleep.
2. Sex supports immune functioning
Yup, you heard me! Sex helps to prevent cold’s and flu’s by increasing the production of IgA, an antibody known to fight off infections. Don’t get too excited though, studies found that the optimal number of times a couple should engage in sexual intercourse is 1-2x/week. Sex also increases body temperature creating a suboptimal environment for bacteria and viruses to survive and propagate. Yay to free natural treatments to preventing cold’s and flu’s!
3. Sex can be slimming
Did you know that 35 minutes of sex burns an average of 85 calories? Sex is also one form of exercise that can include both cardiovascular and strength training! Physical activity, especially endurance training, increases Basal Metabolic Rate (BMR) – the amount of calories your body burns at rest. It is an extra form of physical activity you can incorporate into your weight wellness program.
4. Sex saves the heart!
Being a form of physical activity, sex helps to increase blood and lymphatic circulation throughout the body. It helps to exercise the heart muscle. Researchers found that engaging in sexual intercourse 2x +/week reduced the risk of fatal heart attack by 50% for men.
5. Sex increases self-esteem
According to sex therapists, one of the reasons people have sex is to improve their self-esteem. One therapist found that people who already have a healthy self-esteem feel even better when engaging in regular sex with their partner. Great sex begins with self-esteem; if the sex is genuine, loving and with someone you feel connected with, a persons’ self-esteem will be further enhanced.
6. Sex enhances intimacy
The act of sex causes the release of a hormone called oxytocin. This naturally occurring chemical has been notoriously called “the love hormone” because it helps a person bond and build trust (it’s true – there are studies that prove this!!). The more physical contact a person has with another individual, the greater the level of oxytocin.
7. Sex subsides pain
Oxytocin is not the only chemical released during sex; intercourse results in the release of another substance: endorphins (refer to point 1!). Recall: Endorphins work to reduce pain while simultaneously improving mood.
8. Sex reduces prostate cancer risk
Frequent ejaculation (5+/week) during a male’s mid-20′s has been correlated with a reduced risk of developing hormone-related cancers such as prostate cancer. Who would have known, right?
9. Sex strengthens the pelvic floor
Many women have heard or even tried Kegel exercises to strengthen their pelvic floor muscles as a way to improve the sensations experienced during sex; however, if you exercise your pelvic floor muscles DURING sex you’ll both notice a difference. Strong pelvic floor muscles are important to prevent conditions such as incontinence in later years.
Don’t know what a kegal exercise is?!? TRY THIS: tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor as though you are trying to stop the flow of urine. Count to 3 and release.
10. Sex helps you sleep
Remember our friend oxytocin? I forgot to mention that rising oxytocin levels also promote sleep, according to the latest research. The body requires a minimum of 8 hours sleep per night and good quality sleep is known to also result in healthier food choices, healthier body weight and a reduced incidence of chronic conditions such as high blood pressure.
If you aren’t sold on the benefits of sex and are in a committed relationship, my best piece of advice is this: The proof is in the pudding – try it for yourself!
Guest post originally published by Crystal Chanderbhan, ND
A Guide to Pelvic Floor Exercises
Pelvic floor exercises, sometimes known as “Kegels” can be performed to improve your overall health. These exercises strengthen the muscles of your pelvic floor and can be performed for childbirth preparation, control involuntary loss of urine and improve your sex life.
- Improve the tone of the perineal muscles and pelvic organ support
- Promote post-partum healing and comfort
- Prevent urinary incontinence or regain bladder control
How to perform Pelvic Floor Exercises
- Tightly contract muscles surrounding the vagina with an internal “pulling up”
- Release muscles and take notice of the relaxation
- Contact tightly again, hold, then release
If it is difficult to get the feeling of this exercise, try stopping and starting the flow of urine while urinating. Do not do this on an ongoing basis. Another way is to tighten your bottom as if trying to hold back gas.
Variation: “The Elevator”
This variation can be done to gain full control of the perineal floor muscles, in addition to increasing flexibility and develop awareness of tension/relaxation, which can be helpful for delivery. This exercise can be done in any position, however, lying down is typically easier.
How to perform “The Elevator”
Imagine you are riding in an elevator. As you ascend each floor, try to draw up the perineal muscles a little more until you reach complete tension. When you reach your limit, don’t let go:
- Now, descend, floor-by-floor, gradually relaxing the muscle. When you arrive at the ground floor (no tension), take the muscle group to the basement with a gentle blowing out breath through pursed lips. This should feel as if the perineum is bulging
- Complete the exercise by lifting up the muscle back to the ground floor level
- Repeat the entire exercise and remember to breathe normally as you tighten the pelvic floor muscles
Everywhere and anywhere! These exercises can be performed without anyone being aware of what you are doing. Here are some ideas:
- At red traffic lights
- While cooking
- During commercial breaks on TV
- During sexual intercourse
- While waiting at the grocery store
- While brushing your teeth
Initially, perform 5 in a row, holding each muscle contraction for 5 seconds, then releasing. The goal is to 50 contractions a day for the rest of your life.
- Perform the pelvic floor exercises as often as you can. The more you perform them, the faster you will feel and notice the results.
- Select an activity you do often as a reminder. During commercial breaks while watching TV is an easy way to attain a goal of 50 sets daily (i.e. 2 sets of 5 contractions done at each commercial break). Find a behavioural cue to use as a regular reminder.