Thinking about sex is one of a man’s earliest memories and lasts throughout their entire lives.

While desire and the associated thoughts are often present, good sexual health doesn’t always go hand in hand. As a result, many men struggle unnecessarily. As men age they begin to wonder if a waning sex drive, inconsistent erections, and loss of energy is just a natural and inevitable part of the aging process. It isn’t. It IS, however, a strong indicator of your overall health.

Sex is valuable for relationship bonding, and of course, it’s fun! Beyond the pleasure you experience during sex and satisfaction you get from connecting with another person, sex is also important for overall good health! In fact, sexual health is just as important as any other facet of your health. It also complements things like regular exercise and good nutrition to contribute to overall health, wellness, and happiness.

On the more obvious side, it can be a great mild cardio workout if you want. Any session of activity that increases your heart rate and makes you break a sweat will improve your cardiovascular health over time, and in the short term boosts your immune system for up to 24 hours. Even just boosting your heart rate for a few minutes has benefits. If you can keep going for 20 to 30 minutes, then you might justify skipping the gym that day, or be even more motivated when you get there!

Love Drugs: Sex and Men’s Hormones

Having sex affects your hormone balance, like estrogen and testosterone among others. (Yes, men have both, and it’s important that they are in proper balance in order for their systems to work right.)

One of the effects of imbalanced sex hormones can be heart disease, which is the #1 killer of men in Tennessee. But a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology showed that men who have sex at least twice a week reduce their risk of death from heart disease by up to 45% (when compared to men who have sex once a month or less). That’s pretty good motivation for attending to your sexual health and staying sexually active.

Chemicals released during sex and orgasm can also block pain. In part, that pain suppression is caused by oxytocin, but oxytocin actually has a much bigger role. To simplify, oxytocin is the chemical in our brains that makes us engage in social bonding. According to research published by the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, robust social bonding is strongly linked to good physical health and a long life span. The study also showed causal relationships between social isolation and major health risks like obesity, heart disease, and cancer.

Prior to orgasm oxytocin builds and is accompanied by the release of endorphins, the pain killing hormones our body produces naturally. The release of oxytocin that comes along with an orgasm also leaves your oxytocin levels increased for some time. Oxytocin is often referred to as the “love hormone” so you’ll enjoy cuddling with your partner, but you may also feel more kind toward your child later that day, and be more likely to chat with the neighbor across the fence. These may feel like mundane interactions, but they’re actually critical to our health as social creatures.

Besides all that, having sex makes you better at having sex. In the obvious way, just like when you practice any physical activity you get better at it. You also enhance performance in less visible ways like improving the function of your hormone and endocrine systems so that they are better primed for love-making in the future.

The Importance of Sexual Function in Men’s Health

If you don’t currently have a sexual partner, we are not advocating for you to pick up strangers in order to have sex a couple times a week. The health drawbacks of that approach could easily outweigh the benefits. However, if you do have casual sex, use a condom and if you’ll be having regular sex with a new partner, we recommend both partners get an STD test, especially if you’ll be having unprotected sex. But fortunately, you don’t even need a partner at all in order to experience most of these benefits.

Poor Sexual Health and Function May Be An Indicator of Other Health Issues

If you’re finding that it’s not a lack of a partner holding you back, but a lack of sexual function, then we’re here to help. While cuddling and foreplay all have excellent emotional benefits, any of the hormonal and other chemical benefits we’ve talked about in this article are associated with sustained erection and orgasm. If you aren’t able to sustain an erection, it could be indicative of other health concerns like cardiovascular disease, and it’s important to be checked with a competent men’s health provider so you can participate fully in sexual activity throughout your whole life.

Here at The Billups Center, we believe sexual health is never isolated from a man’s overall health, and that a healthy sex life reflects better general health. Read on if you’d like to learn more about why we believe sexual health is an important component of men’s health.