Do Men Who Have More Sex Live Longer?

Do Men Who Have More Sex Live Longer?
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When done right, love may protect your lover’s life.

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Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Sex is important to health,” according to the Harvard Health Letter. “Frequent sexual intercourse is [evidently] associated with reduced heart attack risk.” But, this seems to me the perfect case for reverse causation. They’re implying that more sex leads to healthier arteries. But, isn’t the opposite more likely—that healthier arteries lead to more sex? Blood flow in the penis is so reflective of blood flow elsewhere that penile Doppler ultrasound can predict cardiovascular disease. But, “low frequency of sexual activity [may predict cardiovascular disease in men] independently of [erectile dysfunction]”—suggesting that sex may be more than “just fun,” but also therapeutic. Or, at least, so says an editor of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, in discussing whether or not “frequent sexual activity [should] be prescribed…to improve…general…health.” In men, they suggest it’s because more sex means more testosterone.

When men make love, they get a big spike in testosterone levels in their blood. But, interestingly, in contrast, they get no testosterone boost when they masturbate. This may be because “[t]estosterone increases with competitive success,” like if you win at a game of sports. While sex “is not usually regarded as a competitive event,…one’s mental state [afterwards] could nevertheless be something like that of a winner,” as opposed to the mental state after masturbation.

The spike in sex hormones in the blood is so great that men’s beards actually grow faster on days they have sex. And, since low testosterone levels are associated with “increased risk of mortality,” that could help explain the health benefits.

So, do men who have more sex actually live longer? I did a PubMed search for sexual activity and longevity, and came up with “Sexual Activity and Longevity of the Southern Green Stink Bug.” Our taxpayer dollars, hard at work. But, I was less interested in whether or not screwworms live up to their namesake, and more interested in this: “Sex and death.” A study whose objective was “to examine the relation between frequency of orgasm and mortality.” They found that men “with high orgasmic frequency” appeared to cut their risk of premature death in half. And, apparently, the more the better—a 36% drop in mortality odds for every additional “100 orgasms [a] year.”

“Conclusion: Sexual activity seems to have a protective effect on men’s health.” But not, it appears, if you cheat. “Unfaithfulness in men seems to be associated with a higher risk of major cardiovascular events,” like heart attacks and strokes. “Extramarital sex may be hazardous and stressful, because the lover [may be] younger” and more exuberant, and “secret sexual encounter[s]” may be more stressful.

In a large autopsy series, the majority of cases of sudden death during sex occurred in men having extramarital intercourse. The absolute risk is low; “only one out of 580 men might be expected to suffer” such a death. But, for those at high risk, “[s]ex in familiar surroundings, [at] a comfortable room temperature, and with [one’s] usual partner” may be safer.

And, speaking of safe sex, you thought drinking and driving was bad? “While [it’s] generally assumed that sexual behavior happens in parked cars, there is little discussion…in the research literature of sexual activity in moving vehicles.” About one in five college students report engaging in sex “while driving”—nearly half while going more than 60 miles an hour, including feats likely involving “distraction.” Researchers suggest maybe this is something that should be warned about in health class.

When done right, though, love may protect your lover’s life. Given the benefits of sexual activity, “[i]ntervention programmes could…be considered, perhaps based on the…’At least five a day’ campaign aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption—although the numerical imperative may have to be adjusted.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: michael kooiman via flickr. Image has been modified.

Video credit: Daniel Black.

Below is an approximation of this video’s audio content. To see any graphs, charts, graphics, images, and quotes to which Dr. Greger may be referring, watch the above video.

“Sex is important to health,” according to the Harvard Health Letter. “Frequent sexual intercourse is [evidently] associated with reduced heart attack risk.” But, this seems to me the perfect case for reverse causation. They’re implying that more sex leads to healthier arteries. But, isn’t the opposite more likely—that healthier arteries lead to more sex? Blood flow in the penis is so reflective of blood flow elsewhere that penile Doppler ultrasound can predict cardiovascular disease. But, “low frequency of sexual activity [may predict cardiovascular disease in men] independently of [erectile dysfunction]”—suggesting that sex may be more than “just fun,” but also therapeutic. Or, at least, so says an editor of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, in discussing whether or not “frequent sexual activity [should] be prescribed…to improve…general…health.” In men, they suggest it’s because more sex means more testosterone.

When men make love, they get a big spike in testosterone levels in their blood. But, interestingly, in contrast, they get no testosterone boost when they masturbate. This may be because “[t]estosterone increases with competitive success,” like if you win at a game of sports. While sex “is not usually regarded as a competitive event,…one’s mental state [afterwards] could nevertheless be something like that of a winner,” as opposed to the mental state after masturbation.

The spike in sex hormones in the blood is so great that men’s beards actually grow faster on days they have sex. And, since low testosterone levels are associated with “increased risk of mortality,” that could help explain the health benefits.

So, do men who have more sex actually live longer? I did a PubMed search for sexual activity and longevity, and came up with “Sexual Activity and Longevity of the Southern Green Stink Bug.” Our taxpayer dollars, hard at work. But, I was less interested in whether or not screwworms live up to their namesake, and more interested in this: “Sex and death.” A study whose objective was “to examine the relation between frequency of orgasm and mortality.” They found that men “with high orgasmic frequency” appeared to cut their risk of premature death in half. And, apparently, the more the better—a 36% drop in mortality odds for every additional “100 orgasms [a] year.”

“Conclusion: Sexual activity seems to have a protective effect on men’s health.” But not, it appears, if you cheat. “Unfaithfulness in men seems to be associated with a higher risk of major cardiovascular events,” like heart attacks and strokes. “Extramarital sex may be hazardous and stressful, because the lover [may be] younger” and more exuberant, and “secret sexual encounter[s]” may be more stressful.

In a large autopsy series, the majority of cases of sudden death during sex occurred in men having extramarital intercourse. The absolute risk is low; “only one out of 580 men might be expected to suffer” such a death. But, for those at high risk, “[s]ex in familiar surroundings, [at] a comfortable room temperature, and with [one’s] usual partner” may be safer.

And, speaking of safe sex, you thought drinking and driving was bad? “While [it’s] generally assumed that sexual behavior happens in parked cars, there is little discussion…in the research literature of sexual activity in moving vehicles.” About one in five college students report engaging in sex “while driving”—nearly half while going more than 60 miles an hour, including feats likely involving “distraction.” Researchers suggest maybe this is something that should be warned about in health class.

When done right, though, love may protect your lover’s life. Given the benefits of sexual activity, “[i]ntervention programmes could…be considered, perhaps based on the…’At least five a day’ campaign aimed at increasing fruit and vegetable consumption—although the numerical imperative may have to be adjusted.”

Please consider volunteering to help out on the site.

Image credit: michael kooiman via flickr. Image has been modified.

Video credit: Daniel Black.

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