Sex Is Good For You, and other research findings

This week I had the pleasure of attending a lecture by Diana Hoppe a gynecologist in Encinitas.

The lecture was  at the San Diego Sexual Medicine Center at Alvarado Hospital

Alvarado and Dr. Hoppe  are two of my  favorite referrals for those needing a physical work-up on issues related to sex.

Dr. Hoppe’s presentation reviewed a number of research findings I’ve read over the years, and I thought I’d share some of them with you.

For those who want some research findings to validate their love for making love: 

  • More sex with your spouse  is associated with having  fewer heart attacks and strokes. In fact, having more sex with your spouse  is predictive of fewer heart attacks and strokes 20 years down the road!
  • Orgasm increases the body’s natural immune response.
  • If your spouse thinks you are sexually attractive you are less likely to have strokes or hearts attacks than if s/he thinks you are unattractive.
  • If a man has more than 21 orgasms/month, it significantly reduces his risk of prostate cancer.
  • Brazilians and Greeks have twice as much sex a year as Americans. Americans have almost twice as much sex as their Japanese peers. Viva la siesta!

How to increase sexual  intimacy?

  • Remove clutter from the bedroom, including books, phones, i-pods and TVs. Couples with a TV in their bedroom have less than half the sex than couples who don’t have a TV in their bedroom!
  • Go for a trip together, or try sharing something out of the usual that is exciting outside of the bedroom.
  • Most important, of course, is keeping clear, honest and loving communication with your partner. The old saying is that when “love is on the rocks the rocks are usually in the bedroom.” This is exactly the opposite of what the problem usually is.  For most couples, the rocks are usually poor communication, or unresolved guilt or anger.  Unresolved conflict  and the anxiety that goes along with it are sexual turn-offs. Anxiety isn’t compatable with good sex for most of us.
  • For men,testosterone supplementation is often very helpful with increasing age.  Dr. Irwin Goldstein, who heads up the clinic at Alvarado and is also Editor of the Journal of Sexual Medicine, reports that 50 years of research has found no relationship between testosterone levels or testosterone  supplementation and the onset of prostate cancer.  It just doesn’t cause prostate cancer.  In my own practice, I have found that what often  looks like depression in older men is a lack of energy and general libido, and it is often resolved by referral for testosterone supplementation in combination with some talk therapy (rather than antidepressants, which is usually the first choice of MDs).

And what about differences between men and women?

Dr. Hoppe presented some research on hormones that I hadn’t heard before.

It turns out that sex releases estrogen in women, and testosterone in men… and that testosterone metabolizes (eats up) oxytocin 5 times faster than estrogen does. 

What is oxytocin? Well, it is a hormone that works mainly in the brain, and it is associated with feelings of loving, cuddliness, intimacy and warmth toward others. 

So, at last we have a “scientific” explanation of why women more than men like to cuddle and talk about the relationship after making love, while men are more likely to want a cigarette or a snack.