Woody Allen said, “Love is the answer. But while you’re waiting for the answer, sex raises some pretty interesting questions.” A classic line from a living legend. Maybe the phobic filmmaker was on to something though. And we’re not talking about what the birds and bees have to do with the fine art of lovemaking.
We already know they both do it, thanks to Cole Porter, as do educated fleas. Humans do it too. And we know why we do it. There are the fringe benefits, of course, and it’s also the cause and effect utilized by humans to populate Mother Earth.
But guess what? It gets better. Sex is actually good for us too. Physiologically. Psychologically. Even behaviourally.
Dr. Jacques Babin, a noted clinical sexologist from the Human Development Counselling Centre in Sudbury, says there are studies that show sex greatly reduces stress. In one such study, lovers are tested after sex and the results show that physical intimacy left the participants less stressed and perhaps more importantly, in a better mood the next day.
“The researchers tested people after they’ve had sex and it was amazing the stress they could take afterwards,” says Babin. “We even have some interesting studies that just came out that say sex eases depression, if you can believe it or not.”
Babin explains that the study showed semen eases depression in women.
“After women had sex without condoms, they were tested and they were less depressed than the people that used condoms,” says Babin, who admits the question he gets asked most by clients is what’s the average amount of times per week healthy couples are having sex.
The answer to that question varies between all couples, but Babin suggests it’s important to remember that sometimes the quality is a lot more important than the quantity.
Makes sense when you consider sex is also a recommended treatment for insomnia, arthritic pain and cold prevention. Babin also notes that there are new studies, which come with some controversy, that show having sex, and ejaculating regularly will reduce a person’s chances of getting prostate cancer.
And what better way to supplement your gym membership than three or four 30-minute sessions of sex per week?
“Sex can really burn calories,” says Babin. “Actually, 30 minutes of sex will burn more than 85 calories. So if you calculate that times how many half-hour sessions of vigourous sex you have over a week, you can easily lose a pound or two.”
With that, science has taught us that exercise fights and even prevents heart disease. So Babin says if we work hard enough, having sex is actually very good for the heart.
“We know that people having sex regularly, and we see this with baby boomers, seem not to age as fast others who don’t,” adds Babin. “The baby boomer generation is really changing. Now 60 is 50 and 50 is 40. And they’re quite open to talking about sexual issues.”
Dr. Guy Grenier (drguy.ca), a reputed marital and sex therapist working in London, ON, agrees with Babin, adding that while we know that sexual desire and the ability to perform sexually starts to decline with age, it never goes to zero.
“People want to be sexual their whole lives,” explains Grenier, who is known as Dr. Guy to his patients. “In the same way, they would like to play their very best game of tennis their whole lives, but we know that your tennis at 40 isn’t going to be the same as your tennis at 20 and your tennis at 80 isn’t going to be the same as your tennis at 40, but no one would bat an eye if an 80-year-old wanted to get back on the court again.”
Love. Set. Match.
Grenier says people he sees often say their sex life is very important to them. And research shows that couples with higher sexual satisfaction almost always have greater relationship satisfaction. So if it’s important to you, you’d be derelict not to include sex in your relationship.
“Sex is great for you physiologically. But it also speaks to a natural drive that we have,” says Grenier, who wrote the book, The 10 Conversations You Must Have Before You Get Married (And How to Have Them) to critical acclaim. “We’re sexual from the moment we’re born till the moment we die. So it’s important to acknowledge that aspect of ourselves and incorporate it into our relationship in an ongoing way, because otherwise, the alternative is to deny that part of ourselves.
“If we applied that sensibility to anything else, if you were really interested in sports or if you were really interested in cooking or if you had a real need to be outdoors, but you didn’t get to include that into your relationship, that’s going to be deleterious to the degree of satisfaction that you get in your relationship. It’s the same for sex.”
Grenier says that sex has all kinds of other benefits too.