Want a Healthy Heart? Have More Sex

Do you want a healthy heart? Make more love.

A healthy sexual relationship can benefit your heart health in a variety of ways, says psychologist Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD.

"First of all, good sex in a relationship plays a powerful role in maintaining the health of a long-term relationship," Dr. Kingsberg says. "And the downstream effect of a happy and satisfying relationship is less negative stress and more positive emotions, and that improves overall health, including cardiovascular health."

The Health Benefits of Intimacy

The health benefits of sex include:

  • Boosting immune function
  • Lowering blood pressure
  • Releasing endorphins
  • Strengthening well-being
  • Reducing pain through higher levels of the hormone oxytocin

"Sex reduces stress and other negative emotions, such as anger, anxiety and loneliness," Dr. Kingsberg says. "We know that these negative emotional states can impact cardiac health – and increase risk of cardiac events – much like smoking and high cholesterol do."

Sexual Interests Change Over Time

It's important to know that your sexual appetite, desire level and interest in sex can change over time.

"Sex drive can wax and wane based on lots of things," Dr. Kingsberg says. "For some women, their menstrual cycle modulates some drive, for others not at all. For some people, psychological or situational factors play a role in interest levels. For others, it's age, which tends to impact drive in a downward way, but it is a relative decline."

Even though a happy couple will rarely have exactly the same level of desire all the time, there are things they can do to ensure they maintain a lasting, healthy sexual relationship.

"The key to success is to learn how to compromise and negotiate and to understand the other partner’s experience and perspective," she says.

Sheryl Kingsberg, PhD is an expert in human sexuality and Division Chief of Behavioral Medicine at University Hospitals MacDonald Women's Hospital.

You can request an appointment with Dr. Kingsberg or any other University Hospitals doctor online.