Heart Health: Sex is Good for the Cardiovascular System

Editor's picture

 

Dr. Kat Van Kirk is a Clinical Sexologist and Relationship Therapist who is a Yoga Alliance certified teacher/therapist.

We all know sex gets the blood pumping. In addition to many of its other natural benefits as a mood enhancer, bonding hormone builder, metabolism increaser; it is now widely accepted that sex is good for the heart.

The American Journal of Cardiology confirms this. The journal recently reported that men with a low frequency of sexual activity have an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. You read that right folks. Something more to be said for the old “use it or lose it” adage. Men who reported that they had sex once per month or less were at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease than men who had sex twice or more per week. We know this thanks to researcher Susan A. Hall, Ph.D., of the department of epidemiology at the New England Research Institutes who conducted this research.

Men with sexual activity of once per month or less had a 45 percent increased risk of cardiovascular disease during the study period–that’s pretty significant in my book. The findings took into account factors such as age and erectile dysfunction (ED) status for over 1,100 men between the ages of 40 and 70. These were also men with out any history of cardiovascular disease (such as heart diseasestroke, and peripheral arterial disease) at the start of the study. They were then followed for 16 years. This finding seems to indicate that having sex on a regular basis creates a protective factor when it comes to heart health.

However, beyond the fact that the men with the lowest risk were rolling around in the hay the most, this study also examined the role of sexual desire and the capacity for sexual activity as possible factors in heart risk. Meaning that because these men were physically able to seek sex out and had the desire to actually engage in sexual activity, this indicates that these men may be healthier all the way around. Hall says that “men who are sexually active likely have libido and the capacity for physical activity. So the ability to have sex might be a marker for overall health.”

Other variables that might be contribute to heart healthy sex states Hall, is that “men who are having regular [sexual] activity might be more likely to be in a supportive intimate relationship with a regular partner; this might improve health through stress reduction and social support.” Well, as we all know a good partner is worth a whole heck of a lot. I know several of my own clients have experienced improved blood pressure once they entered into positive relationships following either being alone unhappily or being in a negative, unhealthy relationship. It should remind all of us how important it is to find a relationship that is good for our physical health versus just being someone we are attracted to.

In addition, the study suggests that doctors could get clues about the cardiovascular condition and risk of patients by asking questions about their sex lives, sexual interest, and activities. Gee, what a novel idea. The idea that sexuality plays an important role in our health, truly allows for a more holistic view of us all as individuals. I think we can all benefit from that line of thinking.

Dr. Kat Van Kirk is a Clinical Sexologist and Relationship Therapist who is a Yoga Alliance certified teacher/therapist. Visit www.drkat.com and listen to her free iTunes podcast Sex Chat with Dr. Kat and Her Gay Boyfriend.