16/04/2012 14:43 | By Tracey Cox, sex and relationship expert, MSN Her

An orgasm a day keeps the doctor away

We all know sex feels good but it’s also incredibly good for you! Research constantly proves that a good, close, healthy relationship and sex life is crucial to both our emotional and physical wellbeing. Which is why, when couples tell me “Sex is no longer important once you’ve been together forever”, I beg to - loudly and boisterously - differ.


Couple in bed (© Getty Images)

Making love isn't a luxury, it's essential for your relationship to survive. According to research, we get about a quarter of our total enjoyment of a relationship from sex. That's if you're having good, regular sex and the rest of your relationship's in pretty good shape. If you're having bad sex, or none at all, the other three-quarters of the relationship that was good, gets cancelled out.

Why?
If your sex life is in drastic dire straits, it spills over into the rest of the relationship and ends up poisoning everything. What's the one thing that differentiates good friends from lovers? Sex. Think about it. These days, when we see friends separately and share lots of ourselves with same- and opposite-sex friends, it's the only thing we do with our partner that we don't do with anyone else. Good sex builds a close, intimate relationship - and it does a lot to smooth over the rough parts. Sex is good for us, both physically and mentally. It decreases stress, boosts the immune system and gives us a sense of wellbeing. We feel loved and nurtured when we're having satisfying, regular sex. More relaxed with each other and prepared to put up with more.

Stop having good sex and you stop feeling connected to your partner. Feeling loved, accepted and attractive is central to our happiness - and happiness is a crucial factor for good health. If someone doesn't want to make love to you, you don't feel sexy or attractive. Your self-esteem plummets. Sexual frustration makes you irritable. Resentment means you start getting angry over things that previously didn't worry you. Without sex, intimacy disappears. Both of you feel increasingly isolated. You start fantasizing about other people. You may take it further and actually have an affair. Or you might just up and leave.

Bad sex really is bad news. Put the relationship first and sex last and you lose the most effective way of nourishing yourself and each other. Give it the same importance as the relationship itself and everything falls into place much more easily. I'm not saying you should expect great sex all the time. Sometimes career and children have to take priority, and all couples go through phases when sex isn't as good. Just don't ever give up on trying to make it as good as humanly possible.

Sex doesn't just give us a physical release - it positively affects virtually every part of us.

Orgasms are good for you: the official stats

  • Couples who have regular sex are happier, healthier and more energetic than their less intimate counterparts.
  • Sex releases endorphins and a brain chemical called PEA - both make us feel light-hearted.
  • Levels of the hormone oxytocin rise by about 500% during sex - making us feel relaxed.
  • Regular, satisfying sex boosts the immune system. We have fewer colds, lustrous hair, clean, bright eyes, good muscle tone, great skin - and it does burn calories! Around 80 calories per intercourse session.
  • Good sex is a natural anti-depressant and there is evidence it helps us to live longer.
  • Orgasm boosts immunity, wards off colds and infections and sexually active people are less prone to depression and suicide.
  • Regular sex not only makes you look younger, orgasms could be life-extending because of the effects on the heart and immune system.
  • Sex is good for your body, your mental health and your relationship because it makes us feel connected to another person. And feeling loved and accepted and attractive is central to our happiness.

For her

  • According to University of Virginia researchers, orgasms boost levels of the female sex hormone oestrogen, which improves your mood. It also releases endorphins, the body's natural painkillers and depression fighters. Menstrual cramps and PMT disappear!
  • They bond you to your partner. Oxytocin, a hormone which promotes feelings of intimacy, jumps to five times its normal level during climax.
  • They help you sleep. Oxytocin also makes you feel sleepy. Men drift off two to five minutes after orgasm, women usually fall asleep 20-30 minutes later (hence the 'Why does he abandon me immediately after sex' question. Answer: it's biological!).
  • They make you less stressed. Twenty minutes of intercourse releases the lust-enhancing hormone dopamine, triggering a relaxation response which lasts up to two hours.
  • The quickest, most efficient way for a woman to orgasm is using a vibrator solo. UK research found 71% of a popular magazine's readers own one and, according to most sex therapists, they remain the most reliable source of orgasms for most women worldwide.

For him

  • A longer life: men who have two or more orgasms a week tend to live significantly longer than those who have only one or none.
  • Healthy hearts: men who have three or more orgasms a week are 50% less likely to die from heart failure or coronary heart disease.
  • Good health: having sex once or twice a week also fights off flu and other viruses by strengthening the immune system.

Tracey Cox (© Tracey Cox)

Tracey Cox is an international sex, relationship and body language expert. Check out her website at www.traceycox.com

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