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Video: Sex and its benefits

By
TODAY contributor
updated 7/11/2007 11:34:27 AM ET 2007-07-11T15:34:27

Sex is healthy for a relationship. Married couples who are satisfied with their sexual lives report better overall marital satisfaction. But can sex be healthy for you as an individual? Yes! Here’s how sex can keep you in better shape and put you in a better mood.

Workout partner: Active sex is a good aerobic exercise, which is good for your heart. Sex also works out your stomach, back and buttock muscles, leading to greater pleasure with body esteem. Exercise on its own is also good for your mind. It relieves stress and elevates your mood, due to the release of endorphins. It is especially a workout for specific muscles, and for women, that means the vagina.

Like other muscles, the vagina is a “use it or lose it” organ. The more you use your pelvic muscles, the more they stay in shape. And if you don’t use them, they will atrophy and sex can become painful. Pelvic muscles also affect bladder control. If your pelvic muscles are in shape, you will have better bladder control later in life or after having babies. Who wants to pee every time they sneeze or cough? Use those muscles, ladies! For men, the prostate may benefit by being active in ejaculation. Having sex may also reduce the risk of prostate cancer.

Mood booster: After sex, hormones that can have beneficial effects are released in the body. Oxytocin causes relaxation and feelings of love and bonding, and endorphins are the body’s natural painkillers. Levels of immunoglobulin A are also elevated after sex. This antibody can help you fight off colds. Many people also find that they have an easier time falling asleep after sex. Getting a good night’s sleep has many health benefits.

Confidence builder: Last but not least, having good sexual confidence feeds into your overall confidence. And confident people who like themselves tend to do well in the world.

Dr. Gail Saltz's Bottom Line: If you are having sexual problems, I highly recommend you consult a doctor. There are now many methods of treating sexual issues. But perhaps more importantly ... sex (under, of course, the right and safe circumstances) not only makes you feel good, but it is also good for you!

Dr. Gail Saltz is a psychiatrist with New York Presbyterian Hospital and a regular contributor to “Today.” Her latest book is “Anatomy of a Secret Life: The Psychology of Living a Lie,” by Dr. Gail Saltz. She is also the author of "Amazing You! Getting Smart About Your Private Parts," which helps parents deal with preschoolers' questions about sex and reproduction. Her first book, “Becoming Real: Overcoming the Stories We Tell Ourselves That Hold Us Back,” was published in 2004 by Riverhead Books. It is now available in a paperback version. For more information, you can visit her Web site, www.drgailsaltz.com.

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