Can Frequent Sex Heal the Heart?
According to a study published in the American Journal of Cardiology, men who infrequently engage in sex (once a month or less) are at a 45 percent higher risk for cardiovascular disease than subjects who have more frequent sex, specifically twice a week or more.
The study examined 1,100 men between the ages of 40 and 70 who had no history of cardiovascular disease at the beginning of the study. The subjects were followed for a period of 16 years, and those who engaged in more frequent sex experienced less cardiovascular disease.
While the findings appear to indicate that regular sex serves to protect heart health, the study found that the men having more frequent sex were physically able to seek out sex and actually had the desire to do so. This might be attributed to better health in general.
Another variable for consideration is the relationship. For instance, the subjects having more frequent sex might have been in relationships that were more supportive and intimate than subjects having less sex. Positive relationships can reduce stress, boost self-esteem and lower blood pressure which can all contribute to better cardiovascular health. The researchers who conducted the study are now suggesting that doctors screen men for sexual activity as part of the assessment for heart disease risks.
A British study conducted in 2002 also indicated that frequent sex may reduce risks for heart attack in men. The study followed 914 male subjects for a 20-year period. It was concluded that even when adjusting for age and other risk factors, frequent (twice weekly or more) sex was associated with lower risks for fatal heart attacks. A follow up ten years after conclusion of the study showed that men with intermediate or low frequency of sex experienced 50 percent more fatal heart attacks than men who were having frequent sex.
Sex Following a Heart Attack
Many people who have experienced a heart attack are fearful that sex will trigger another. While this happens occasionally in the movies, it is an event that rarely occurs in real life.
Dr. Wei Jiang, an internist and psychiatrist at Duke University states, “Although you can't jump into sex the day after a heart attack or surgery, most people can resume sexual relations three to six weeks afterward, as long as they are free of chest pain or other complications.”
While the physical act of sex appears to have a protective effect on the heart, it may be more than that. A healthy relationship which fosters positive feelings and reduces stress may also contribute to good heart health.
Here are a few other things that can contribute to good heart health:
- Get enough sleep: Dr. Barbara Phillips, a professor of sleep medicine at the College of Medicine at the University of Kentucky, says people should shoot for 7 to 8 hours of sleep per night.
- Get regular exercise: The American Heart Association recommends moderate exercise (like biking or brisk walking) of at least 150 minutes per week or 75 minutes per week of vigorous exercise to protect the heart.
- Calm the mind: Engage in regular, mind-calming activity like meditation, tai chi, yoga, or listening to soft music. A recent study has shown that biweekly participation in yoga for a period of three months or more can help to normalize levels of cortisol (the stress hormone) and an irregular heart rate.