How Sex Can Boost Your Immune System

The benefits of sex go beyond the pleasure and satisfaction you experience during and afterward. Sex has a multitude of health benefits. 

In fact, sex can boost the immune system in many ways. 

How? You’re going to find out in this post. Read on to learn more. 

Sex elevates levels of antibodies

Antibodies, also known as immunoglobulin, are molecules produced by white blood cells. These tiny glycoprotein molecules are an integral component of the immune response by recognizing and binding to specific antigens and pathogens such as viruses and bacteria. 

The higher the level of immunoglobulin A, the stronger is the immune response against viruses like COVID-19 and other diseases.

One way sex can boost the immune system is through increased levels of immunoglobulin i.e. antibodies. Evidence confirms having sex one or two times a week can increase a person’s antibody concentration by 30% and thereby strengthen the immune defenses. 

In one study, subjects with frequent sex (once or twice a week) had higher immunoglobulin levels than participants from the other three groups that included no sex, infrequent sex (less than once a week), and very frequent sex (three to four times a week). This means having sex every day isn’t necessary for strong immune defense; you can have it once or twice a week and still get all the benefits it provides.

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Having an orgasm reduces cortisol levels

Cortisol is a steroid hormone the body produces naturally. This hormone plays a key role in the body’s response to stress. As you already know, stress is a natural response to emotional, psychological, and physical strain. When left unresolved, stress becomes a major threat to a person’s health and wellbeing.

Studies reveal that acute stress is beneficial for the immune system, but chronic stress is not. In fact, chronic stress is associated with immunosuppression as well as the reductions in all functional immune measures that were examined. Increased duration of stress causes a shift from adaptive and favorable changes to detrimental ones. 

Sex can reduce cortisol levels and boost immune system defenses at the same time. You see, achieving an orgasm through sex or masturbation increases levels of dopamine neurotransmitters. 

Dopamine is a feel-good chemical that improves your mood. At the same time, oxytocin hormone is also released during orgasm when a man ejaculates. This hormone reduces cortisol levels. 

In other words, sex culminating with orgasm can decrease cortisol and thereby lower stress levels, which boosts immune system function.

Sex boosts the number of white blood cells

White blood cells, also known as leukocytes, are part of the immune system. Their main role is to help the body fight infections and diseases. 

Basically, white blood cells circulate through the tissues and bloodstream in order to respond to the illness or injury. These immune cells work by attacking the pathogenic organisms or invaders that attack the body.

The function of the immune system depends on white blood cells. One way to increase their number is to have sex regularly. 

In one study, sexual arousal and orgasm increase the concentration of leukocytes. This led scientists to conclude that sexual activity activates components of the innate immune system.

Other ways to strengthen the immune system and increase levels of white blood cells include getting enough sleep, eating a healthy diet and getting enough vitamin D and vitamin C, exercising regularly, and maintaining a healthy weight. It’s also useful to quit smoking and reduce or avoid drinking alcohol. 

Sex is a great physical exercise

Sex burns calories, which is why it proves to be a good exercise. While you may not lose as many calories as you would while running, the number of calories you can burn through sexual intercourse is still notable.

A study from PLoS One found that men burn more calories during sex than women. On average, men burn 101 calories in 24 minutes i.e. 4.2 calories per minute.

Why does it matter? Well, physical activity is important for a strong and functional immune system. A study from Clinical and Experimental Medicine confirmed that physical activity strengthens the immune system and could be helpful in boosting the protection against COVID-19 infection. 

Exercise increases immune vigilance and improves immune competence, which is beneficial for controlling pathogens. Also, physical activity promotes weight loss or helps a person maintain weight in a healthy range, which is also necessary for strong immunity. 

Keep in mind that sexual intercourse alone won’t lead to dramatic weight loss, but it can help burn more calories. All this can lead to stronger immune system defenses. 

Physical activity is good for your heart and helps manage high blood pressure. Everything that’s good for your heart is also beneficial for your penis and sexual health. 

For example, it improves the balance of sex hormones and intensifies your sex drive. This allows you to perform, between the sheets, at a higher level and give yet another boost to your immune system.

Sex helps you sleep better

The truth is that most people fail to get enough sleep. Good night’s rest is necessary for our health and wellbeing, but its benefits are a lot more significant than we assume. 

Evidence confirms that sleep and circadian rhythm are strong regulators of the immunological processes. Getting enough sleep improves immune function and also plays an important role in the formation of immunological memory. 

Lack of sleep disturbs these processes and impairs the immune system. That’s why you’re more likely to catch a cold, flu, or experience other problems when you’re sleep-deprived. Your immune system becomes weaker. 

Sex can boost your immune system in many ways and one of them is by providing better sleep. Sexual activity and orgasm release hormones such as oxytocin, which produces pleasant feelings, lowers cortisol, and helps you sleep better. In other words, sexual satisfaction puts your body into a relaxed “mode” that allows you to fall asleep faster.

Good quality of sleep thanks to intimacy through sexual activity and orgasm translates to stronger immune defenses. 

Conclusion

The immune system protects us against viruses, bacteria, and other illnesses. Sometimes the immune system weakens, which is why it’s necessary to adopt healthy lifestyle measures to strengthen it. 

One way to boost the immune system is through regular sex. Sexual activity promotes immune system function through multiple mechanisms, both directly and indirectly. Now you have yet another bonus of having a healthy sex life. In cases when sexual life between two people is unsatisfactory, a sex therapist can help.

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Sources

  1. Charnetski CJ, Brennan FX. Sexual frequency and salivary immunoglobulin A (IgA). Psychol Rep. 2004. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15217036/
  2. Segerstrom SC, Miller GE. Psychological stress and the human immune system: a meta-analytic study of 30 years of inquiry. Psychol Bull. 2004. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1361287/
  3. Haake P, Krueger TH, Goebel MU, Heberling KM, Hartmann U, Schedlowski M. Effects of sexual arousal on lymphocyte subset circulation and cytokine production in man. Neuroimmunomodulation. 2004. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/15316239/
  4. Frappier J, Toupin I, Levy JJ, Aubertin-Leheudre M, Karelis AD (2013) Energy Expenditure during Sexual Activity in Young Healthy Couples. PLoS ONE. https://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0079342
  5. da Silveira MP, da Silva Fagundes KK, Bizuti MR, Starck É, Rossi RC, de Resende E Silva DT. Physical exercise as a tool to help the immune system against COVID-19: an integrative review of the current literature. Clin Exp Med. 2021. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7387807/
  6. Besedovsky L, Lange T, Born J. Sleep and immune function. Pflugers Arch. 2012. https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3256323/

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