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The health benefits of sex

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Besides being pleasurable, sex is good for you in many ways. It’s even a painkiller.

IF you are lucky, you have sex, love sex, and love the one you have sex with. While sex will always remain an enigma in some ways, we are learning more and more about this mysterious subject.

“Some orgasms are sweet and gentle, some are big—but in fact, they are all pleasurable,” says Betty Dodson, PhD, a sex educator in private practice in New York City and the best-selling author of Sex for One and Orgasms for Two.

But if you feel like your climaxes aren’t up to par, Dodson advocates scheduling some “alone time” to learn about what arouses you, as well as your range of orgasmic responses— then you can share this information with your partner!

There are several possible reasons climax- ing kills pain. The chemical and muscular cascade involved in having an orgasm may be a pain reliever, she says—and chances are that distraction and profound relaxation also help.

A team of neurologists found that sexual activity can lead to “partial or complete relief” of head pain in some migraines, reports Andrew Hough in The Telegraph. The study, from the University of Munster, Germany, sug- gests that instead of using a sore head as an excuse to refuse sex, making love can be more effective than taking painkillers.

There are several possible reasons climaxing kills pain. The chemical and muscular cascade involved in having an orgasm may be a pain reliever, and chances are that distraction and profound relaxation also help.

Their research, reported in Cephalalgia, the journal of the International Headache Society, found that more than half of migraine sufferers who had sex during an episode expe- rienced an improvement in symptoms.

They suggested that sex triggered the release of endorphins, the body’s natural pain-killers, through the central nervous system, which can in turn reduce, or even eliminate, a headache.

In Paintracking, Deborah Barrett Ph.D., elaborates how these chemicals might work and interact, and how they can make us feel:

Sex unleashes a bevy of chemical compounds into the brain, starting with oxytocin, she explains. Oxytocin increases with sensual touch between adults, and peaks during orgasm.

Research shows that oxytocin not only increases emotional connection, but also promotes a sense of calm and well-being, and reduces the effects of stress—all of which reduce perceptions of pain. Oxytocin also heightens the desire to touch and be touched, which in turn increases the likeli- hood of further oxytocin production.

Additional substances, released through skin-to-skin touch with peak effects at orgasm, similarly contribute to pain relief and well-being. These include serotonin, our body’s natural anti-depressant; phenyl ethylamine–also found in chocolate–which activates the brain’s pleasure center; and endorphins, a natural painkiller that reduces pain awareness and generates feelings of elation and euphoria. Endorphins have a chemical structure similar to the synthetic opioids, that is, the narcotic medications prescribed for severe pain.

You’ve likely heard of endorphins and the “runner’s high” that they can elicit. Take comfort that you do not have to be a marathon athlete to benefit from the good feelings they can produce. When you feel calm and blissful after a good belly laugh, lovemaking, or other pleasant experience, opioids are at work. The length of such effects is unclear. According to one report I found, enkephalines, another natural opioid, remained elevated in certain regions of the brain for up to two or more days once it
has been activated.

In short, the pleasure of sex has been designed by our biology to provide a host of benefits that enhance our physical and emo- tional wellbeing. Contribute to the cause by doing your own research.

More Insight: Check out this cool article on why sex is good for your brain.

Author: Hannah-Mae Gorman is a staff writer for OptiMyz Magazine.


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