What if we told you that one of the many ways you can boost your immune system is by doing something most people enjoy anyway? It might sound like a sitcom plot device, but scientists say that having orgasms can actually help keep your immune system running in top shape. That doesn’t mean you should toss the vegetables and skip your vaccinations, however—but every little bit counts, especially now that there’s a global pandemic going on. Don’t have a partner? Not to worry: you can reap those benefits all on your own!
Whether you need an excuse to reach out and touch someone or you want to pencil in “regular orgasms” on your staying healthy to-do list, here’s what you need to know about the science behind sex, orgasms and your health.
Studies show orgasms increase infection-fighting white blood cells
In 2004, scientists in Ohio ran a small study of 11 men, which found that masturbation ending in an orgasm increased the number of infection-fighting white blood cells, including leukocytes, present within the blood. These types of cells identify infections, surround them and kill them, warding off illness and infection.
Critics of the study point out that it is a small sample size, and only tested men. It could be that women’s bodies react to sexual arousal differently. However, this and other small studies show that orgasms, whether solo or with a partner, may contribute to our overall immune health. If it’s already an activity you enjoy, why not update your self-care routine to include a good dose of self-love?
Solo orgasms vs. with a partner
Here’s the good news—even if you don’t currently have a partner, you can still enjoy the health benefits of orgasms. The main difference between solo sex versus that with a partner is that sex can trigger the release of oxytocin, which is responsible for those post-orgasm loving feelings. While masturbation might not regularly release oxytocin, it does stimulate the endocannabinoid system. The endocannabinoid system is “a widespread neuromodulatory system that plays important roles in central nervous system development,” which helps regulate the body’s stress response, immune system and inflammation.
Studies are limited in scope for now, and there’s nothing to suggest that there’s a “magic number” of orgasms you should have for maximum health benefits. Experts suggest men and women can benefit from at least one orgasm daily, whether by yourself or with a partner. It’s certainly a more intriguing prospect than eating an apple a day.
Other health benefits of regular orgasms
You probably don’t need any other reasons to get busy, but there are plenty of other reasons orgasms are so beneficial to your health:
- Reduces stress. Sex is a great stress reliever, as it lowers your blood pressure and keeps your heart and lungs healthy. Stress is linked to weakened immune systems, so anything you can do to keep it in check is helpful.
- Helps prevent prostate cancer. Studies have shown that men who orgasm regularly are at a much lower risk for prostate cancer. While orgasm wasn’t the only factor in the study—because many issues can affect your risk of cancer—it certainly doesn’t hurt.
- Promotes bonding with your partner. As mentioned, sex with a partner promotes the release of oxytocin. That bonding chemical can make you feel more connected to your partner, and enhance your affectionate feelings. Intimacy is an important part of romantic relationships, so you’re not just protecting your health—you’re investing in your relationship.
- Better sleep. There’s truth behind the pop culture trope that men immediately fall asleep after orgasm—but it goes for women, too. The stress-relieving properties of orgasm allow people to fall asleep faster and stay asleep longer.
- Exercise you’ll actually enjoy. You can burn five calories per minute during partnered sex, which has the added benefit of boosting your heart rate. It’s about the same calorie burn you’d see if you rearranged the furniture in your apartment. Talk about getting more bang for your buck!
Ultimately, you probably shouldn’t expect that future research will support anyone trading a healthy diet, regular exercise and moderation for regular sex marathons. But you can rest assured that your safe, consensual sexual activity will have a net positive effect on your overall health. If you needed permission to light a few candles, crank up some Al Green and get down… well, who can argue with science?