Is not having sex bad for you?
Humans are sexual beings and as such, we are made to have sex. Sexual needs are part of the basic hierarchy of needs proposed by psychologist Abraham Maslow in his theory of human motivation. In his theory, Maslow purported that humans have physiological needs that are essential for our survival, and placed sex along with breathing, eating, sleeping, drinking, homeostasis, and excretion.
Sex does and should feel good (otherwise, consult your physician). Moreover, sex has many health benefits—looking younger among them—and orgasms in particular have been linked to positive health outcomes and keeping the doctor away. But what about not having sex? Since having sex can be good for your health, is not having it be detrimental to your health?
David Roelfs and colleagues at the University of Louisville in Kentucky conducted a study about celibacy and health that suggested that single people may die younger. The results, published by the American Journal of Epidemiology reported that single men and women who have never been married are at a higher risk of dying at a younger age than those who were married. The study consisted of a meta-analysis of 90 studies that involved 500 million people. The study made a comparison between mortality rates of married and single people (excluding divorced and widowed individuals), and the data established that single men die 17 years before their married counterparts and women die 15 years earlier than their married counterparts.
Jennifer Bass, head of information services at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Gender, and Reproduction in Bloomington, IN, says that, although there is no good data to categorically show a correlation between overall good health and sex, it is known that healthier people have more sexual activity. However, it is hard to establish what comes first: does good health make you want more sex or does more sex lead to better health outcomes? Although this question may be as hard to answer as the question on “what came first, the chicken or the egg?”, another reputable study found a positive association between high frequency of orgasms, decreased mortality, and better health.
A study conducted by researchers in Queens University in Belfast in Ireland tracked the mortality rates of approximately 1,000 men over a span of 10 years. The study was published by the British Medical Journal in 1997 and its results found that men who reported the highest rate of orgasms had half the death rate of their less active counterparts.
Needless to say that engaging in dangerous sex practices, such as unprotected sex in casual sexual encounters, may lead to more harm than good. Engaging in unsafe sex may actually decrease your mortality rather than increase it if you contract an STD.
When asked whether or not they thought not having sex was bad for their health, this is what some women had to say:
I think not having sex is bad for me. I feel cranky, irritable, and out of sync when I go through dry spells. I need sex. I am not married, but I have a healthy libido, and I feel more balanced when I have sex regularly, especially with a partner with whom I can feel connected. —Adela V., San Germán, PR
I am definitely in a better mood when I have sex on a regular basis. I am happier, I feel sexier, I feel in control. I feel good about myself when I have a fulfilling sexual life. Sex is important and essential for me! —Teri B., Dallas, TX
I love sex! I enjoy a healthy sex life with my husband and I love it! Sex makes me feel more confident in our relationship, strengthens our bond, enhances our communication. If sex is good, everything else seems to fall in place naturally. We enjoy sex at least three times a week, and I love the way it makes me feel! —Nancy C., Scottsdale, AZ
Sex must be good for you. And, conversely, not having it must be bad for you. I think people who have sex on a regular basis, especially in the context of an emotionally binding relationship, are happier beings. But overall, sex is good, period! It feels good, orgasms feel awesome, and the after-feeling of sex is insuperable. —Mayra G., Dallas, TX
Now that we know sex may help you live longer, there’s even more reason to enjoy more of it!
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