Sex not only feels good. It can also be good for you. Here’s what a healthy sex life can do for you.
1. Helps Keep Your Immune System Humming
“Sexually active people take fewer sick days,” says Yvonne K. Fulbright, PhD a sexual health expert.
People who have sex have higher levels of what defends your body against germs, viruses, and other intruders. Researchers at Wilkes University in Pennsylvania found that college students who had sex once or twice a week had higher levels of the a certain antibody compared to students who had sex less often.
You should still do all the other things that make your immune system happy, such as:
Get enough sleep.
Keep up with your vaccinations.
Use a condom if you don’t know both of your STD statuses. 2. Boosts Your Libido
Longing for a more lively sex life? “Having sex will make sex better and will improve your libido,” says Lauren Streicher, MD. She is an assistant clinical professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago.
For women, having sex ups vaginal lubrication, blood flow, and elasticity, she says, all of which make sex feel better and help you crave more of it.
3. Improves Women’s Bladder Control
A strong pelvic floor is important for avoiding incontinence, something that will affect about 30% of women at some point in their lives.
Good sex is like a workout for your pelvic floor muscles. When you have an orgasm, it causes contractions in those muscles, which strengthens them.
4. Lowers Your Blood Pressure
Research suggests a link between sex and lower blood pressure, says Joseph J. Pinzone, MD. He is CEO and medical director of Amai Wellness.
“There have been many studies,” he says. “One landmark study found that sexual intercourse specifically (not masturbation) lowered systolic blood pressure.” That’s the first number on your blood pressure test.
5. Counts as Exercise
“Sex is a really great form of exercise,” Pinzone says. It won’t replace the treadmill, but it counts for something.
Sex uses about five calories per minute, four more calories than watching TV. It gives you a one-two punch: It bumps up your heart rated uses various muscles.
So get busy! You may even want to clear your schedule to make time for it on a regular basis. “Like with exercise, consistency helps maximize the benefits,” Pinzone says.
Turning 50 (or more) is the time to put all of your hard-earned, healthy-living knowledge to work.
You know when you should get screened. You know the importance of exercise and good nutrition. You probably feel and look amazing.
But midlife will bring some special health challenges to women. The good news is that none of those challenges have to stop you from living a vibrant and productive life — for decades to come. To keep yourself in the best of health, avoid these six common health mistakes at midlife and beyond.
4. You believe weight gain is inevitable.
Here’s the real story: The risk of weight gain rises due to advancing age, but it does not mean extra pounds are inevitable. But you do have to work harder to maintain your weight and to lose weight, says Rush Medical Center’s Soltes.
That’s because so-called energy expenditures decrease during menopause due to loss of muscle and hormonal changes. “If you eat the same things and exercise the same amount as you did in your thirties, you could potentially still gain weight,” says Soltes. “Women don’t want to hear that, but it is biology.”
A good starting point is the American Heart Association’s recommendation of 150 minutes of moderate exercise every week, broken into 30 minutes, five times a week, or smaller increments such as 15 minutes twice a day, says Cho, of the Cleveland Clinic.
While exercise is great, you have to eat a little smarter, too. A study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion followed nearly 200 middle-aged women for three years, tracking eating patterns, overall health and lifestyle. The researchers found women who did not change their eating habits as they aged were 138 percent more likely to put on 6.6 pounds or more during midlife.
The fix is to eat more fruits, vegetables and lean proteins, and be aware of what you are putting on your plate, says Soltes.
5. You lose your sense of “purpose.”
“Purpose” provides structure to our lives, says psychiatrist Niranjan Karnik, M.D. of Rush University Medical Center. And when retirement or other age-related challenges loom, some individuals may lose their sense of “purpose” and positivity, leading to poor health and poorer sense of well-being, he adds.
Having “purpose” in midlife and beyond doesn’t mean you have to strive to change the world — although if you think you can, why not try? Rather, “. . . it’s simply finding meaning in the day to day,” whether that’s gardening, learning a new language, volunteering at a local pet shelter, or even starting a new career if you want, says Karnik.
It’s these small things that can pay some big dividends. A study of some 6,000 people, who were a part of the Midlife in the United States study, found a lower risk of mortality during the study’s 14-year-follow-up among participants who had a sense of purpose in life and maintained good social relationships.
A study at Rush University showed having “purpose” later in life slowed cognitive decline by about 30 percent. Other studies show “purpose” reduces your risk of heart failure, Alzheimer’s disease, and may even make an individual more likely to follow a healthy lifestyle.
6. You skip those new screenings.
By now, certain screening tests — think PAP, blood pressure, cholesterol — are part of your healthy living routine. But once you hit 50 (and beyond), your doctor will recommend others, such as colorectal cancer screening (starting at age 50) and bone density screening (at age 65). If you decided not to have a mammogram in your forties, start now. The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recommends women ages 50 to 74 have a mammogram biennially starting at age 50. The American Cancer Society recommends women start mammogram at age 45 and and have them every year until age 55, and then start having them every other year.
Nobody’s perfect, but it seems there are some mistakes that have more dire consequences on your love relationship than others. Make your marriage a success by avoiding these relationship traps.
“If they love me enough, they’ll change to please me.” So many believe that they can and will change their partner. It’s only a matter of time. They say, “If he loves me enough, he’ll change that small thing to please me.” But to your partner, that “small thing” isn’t so small. Even if they do try to change to please you, very often they become resentful. “You don’t love me for myself, but for the person you want me to be,” they say. And it’s true. When you try to change them they feel you don’t really love them. You just want to turn them into someone to fill your needs.
MISTAKE 2: FEELING LIKE YOU’RE A FAILURE IN RELATIONSHIPS
When some people see that things aren’t working they become depressed. They start to feel as though they’re not loveable, that destiny is against them or that they will always be a failure in love. The truth is that you’re not a failure. You simple have not yet been taught important truths about relationships. Once you learn and practice new ideas and methods, you’ll be able to handle your life in a way you may have never thought possible.
MISTAKE 3: BELIEVING YOU HAVE TO BE “GOOD ENOUGH” TO KEEP THEIR LOVE
Many feel they’re not “good enough”. They feel they have to turn into a pretzel to keep someone’s love. Recently a woman came to me and said, “I finally found a wonderful man but I’m miserable in the relationship. Everyday I worry that he’ll find out who I really am and leave.” This woman not only expected rejection, she actually did little things to bring it about. Soon she began to sabotage the relationship, finding fault with him at every turn. Although she didn’t realize it, she did this to feel better about herself. The truth is we can never earn another person’s love. The more we try the worse we feel. We must simply understand that who we truly are is entirely loveable. We must learn to make friends with ourselves.
MISTAKE 4: REJECTING YOUR PARTNER SO THEY CAN’T DO IT FIRST
Many reject their partners as protection individuals against being rejected themselves. The bottom line is these may not feel they deserve a relationship, they feel they can’t hold onto a partner because they haven’t accepted themselves.
MISTAKE 5: BELIEVING YOUR PARTNER SHOULD READ YOUR MIND, AND KNOW WHAT YOU WANT WITHOUT YOUR “COMMUNICATING” CLEARLY
“If he/she really loved me, they’d know what I needed and give it to me.” Many believe that if their partners really loved them, they would read their minds. It wouldn’t be necessary to have to actually ask for what they wanted. This is one of the most serious mistakes people make in relationships. Without truthful, open, communication no relationship can flourish. Effective communication, however, can be a skill. And though you may feel that you have repeated yourself a thousand times, that YOU HAVE communicated. There are available communication techniques which, in and of themselves, can save your relationship. Not only is it necessary to know what you want, and to ask for it clearly (without producing guilt) — it is also necessary to be able to accept both yes and no.
MISTAKE 6: BELIEVING IT’S YOUR PARTNER’S JOB TO MAKE YOU HAPPY
Your partner is not there to meet all your needs. If he/she says no, it doesn’t mean he/she doesn’t love you. Some demands may be impossible to fulfill. It is not your partner’s job to make you happy. Your partner should be here to grow and share with you.You must learn to make yourself happy, and make others happy as well. Love is based upon communicating, consideration and giving. First, however, you must be happy with yourself, before another can make you happy.
MISTAKE 7: BELIEVING IT’S HARD TO GET HIM TO TALK
“No matter what I do I can’t get him to talk, and I do not believe he is sharing all of his honest feelings with me.” Many women claim they can’t get men to talk. When time comes for intimate conversation guys clam up, offer a few grunts and expect women to magically understand what’s going on. Women feel shut out and men feel misunderstood. However, there is something women don’t realize. Men want to talk. Under the right conditions, they’ll talk all night long. Men desperately want to let others know what’s going on. However, something else many don’t realize is, men are more fragile than women. In order for them to talk, things have to be right. All that’s needed here is to learn how to create the right conditions, what is necessary for a man to feel safe enough with you to talk.
MISTAKE 8: BEING ADDICTED TO FIGHTING
Many couples keep relationships alive and exciting by fighting. When they see their partner upset, it reassures them that they care. Others have seen their parents fighting and this is the only role model they have. Some are addicted to the “high” they get out of fighting. A few crave the feeling of domination or control. Domination is not love. If it hurts, it is abuse, not love.
Food and sex: you need ‘em both, you want ‘em both—and, as it turns out, they’re closely linked. A poor diet can lead to a lackluster sex life, while some foods have the power to make you feel sexier or prime your body for some mind-blowing booty. A healthy balance of vitamins and minerals keeps your endocrine system humming, which in turn regulates the production of the hormones estrogen and testosterone, essential for sexual desire and performance, says Cammi Balleck, PhD, a naturopathic physician and author ofMaking Happy Happen.“Enjoying an active sex life is essential to our wellbeing, and the foods we eat play a large role in ensuring we feel in the mood,” she says. So you could call good food and good sex a positive feedback loop. Here, eight foods (plus one meal!) with proven power to up the sexy.
It may seem like all this crunchy veggie has going for it is its low calorie count, but trust us, it’s sexy, too. Celery contains chemicals called androsterone and adrostenal, which make us feel more sexually attractive, says Balleck. She also notes that celery contains a small amount of male hormones, which can boost female arousal. Need more? “Celery’s balance of sodium and potassium make it an excellent diuretic,” says Linda DeVillers, PhD, author of Simple Sexy Food: 101 Tasty Aphrodisiac Recipes and Sensual Tips to Stir Your Libido and Feed Your Love. Translation: It can help banish decidedly unsexy bloat.
Sure, part of its appeal is the special-occasion nature, not to mention all that licking of butter off your fingers. But you may eschew this crustacean in fear that a heavy, fatty meal will slow you down sexually. Turns out, lobster doesn’t deserve its tag as a high-fat food (except when slathered in said butter!). In fact, it’s a good source of lean protein, copper, zinc and selenium. Zinc, in particular, has been linked with a healthy male libido, says deVillers. Lobster is also chock full of the mineral phosphorus, which boosts bothyour sex drives, says Balleck. Plus, its concentration of essential fatty acids may increase sensitivity in your sex organs.
Leafy Green Veggies
It may not be easy being green, but it is sexy. Kale, spinach and other leafy greens are high in vitamin A, which is a great hormone-balancer because it supports proper endocrine function, says Balleck. “These foods also contain iodine, an essential mineral for proper function of your thyroid and adrenal glands, which in turn help regulate your mood,” she adds. It’s hard to feel great about sex if you don’t feel, well, great, so fill up on some greens.
It’s not just that these sweet, juicy fruits look and feel sexy (heck, they wear their fertility—their seeds—on the outside!). The health benefits that they pack give weight to their aphrodisiacal reputation. Aside from a ridiculously high amount of vitamin C, folic acid and fiber, strawberries are a good source of potassium, which helps you avoid fluid retention (goodbye mood-killing bloat). “They even contain omega-3 fatty acids, highly valued for their contribution to a healthy cardiovascular system,” says deVillers. And that’s essential for sexual arousal and responsiveness. Dip ‘em in dark chocolate (click to the next slide to see why), and you have a double whammy!
Put aside for a moment how good it tastes and feels as it melts in your mouth—which is enough proof for most chocolate lovers that chocolate is for lovers. Dark chocolate contains a compound called phenylethylamine, an endorphin released in the brain when you’re feeling the warm fuzzies of falling in love. Share a few squares of high-quality dark chocolate before bed, and hopping in the sack will feel all the more delicious.
Many varieties, including walnuts, hazel nuts almonds, pine nuts, Brazil nuts and peanuts, contain the essential amino acid l-arginine, which helps the brain do its job circulating neuro transmitters, brain chemicals that send messages to cells (like, “gee, this feels so good—more please!”). “And the fatty acids in nuts increase endorphins, making you feel more relaxed,” says Balleck. L-arginine also has been shown to dilate blood vessels, improving blood flow to the genitals, which in turn may enhance arousal and intensify orgasms.
Circulation is a big deal for both libido and sexual function—without good blood flow, arousal takes longer (it’s the blood rushing to your sexy bits that primes you for orgasm)—and blueberries are great for improving circulation. “Their high levels of antioxidants, which destroy cell-damaging free radicals, also make you look sexier,” says Balleck. What’s more: Blueberries contain dopamine, a neurotransmitter whose job is to stimulate your brain’s pleasure centers (the ones that make you say, “Ooh!”).
True, cool and juicy slabs of watermelon are a staple at G-rated family picnics, but this super-sweet fruit is also a sex-booster. First, bright-red watermelon contains an amino acid called l-citrulline, which helps relax and dilate blood vessels, naturally increasing blood flow to sexual organs and contributing to a hotter climax. Plus, watermelon’s mostly, you know, water—making it an anti-bloat machine. Incorporating a pit-spitting contest into sex play: Optional.
A Carb-and-Protein Balanced Meal
It’s not just about single food items. A combination can either make you feel sexy or leave you too sluggish or full to do the deed. Jennifer Hanes, DO, author of Lady in Weighting and the forthcoming The Princess Plan, explains that a woman’s libido is stimulated when the neurotransmitter serotonin is released in her brain. “Your serotonin level increases when you consume carbohydrates, but a carb binge can result in a massive sugar crash an hour or so later,” which leaves you too pooped to party. So skip the bottomless bowl of fettucine alfredo, and go for a meal that combines complex carbohydrates (like whole-grain pasta, brown rice, veggies and legumes, and not simple carbs like white pasta, white rice and white bread, which turn right to sugar) with protein. That’ll give you a lasting serotonin boost and stable blood sugar energy. Think steak fajitas with black beans or smoked chicken with baked beans. Then again, maybe the beans would lead to mood-killing, uh, aftershocks.
A healthy, loving relationship can enhance many aspects of your life, from your emotional and mental well-being to your physical health and overall happiness. For many of us, though, finding someone we want to share our lives with can seem like an impossible task. But don’t despair, even if you have a history of relationships that don’t last or if you feel burned out by traditional and online dating, you can still learn how to find lasting love.
Obstacles to finding lasting love
Life as a single person offers many rewards, including learning how to build a healthy relationship with yourself. However, if you’re ready to share your life with someone and want to build a lasting, worthwhile relationship, life as a single person can also be very frustrating.
Finding the right romantic partner is often a difficult journey, for several reasons. Perhaps you grew up in a household where there was no role model of a solid, healthy relationship and you doubt that such a thing even exists. Or maybe your dating history consists only of short, abrupt relationships where you or your partner gets bored too soon, and you don’t know how to make a relationship last. You could be attracted to the wrong type of person or keep making the same bad choices over and over, due to a unresolved issue from your past. It’s also possible you’re not putting yourself in the best environments to meet the right person, or that when you do, you don’t feel confident enough to approach someone. Whatever the case may be, it’s important to believe that a healthy romantic relationship for you exists in the future.
It’s also important to recognize that relationships are never perfect and always require lots of work, compromise, and a willingness to resolve conflict in a positive way. To find and build any relationship worth keeping, you may need to start by re-assessing some of your misconceptions about dating and relationships that can prevent you from finding lasting love
Expectations about dating and finding love
When we start looking for a long-term partner or enter into a romantic relationship, many of us do so with a predetermined set of (often unrealistic) expectations—such as how the person should look and behave, how the relationship should progress, and the roles each partner should fulfill. These expectations may be based on your family history, influence of your peer group, your past experiences, or even ideals portrayed in movies and TV shows. However, retaining many of these unrealistic expectations can make any potential partner seem inadequate and any new relationship feel disappointing.
The first step to finding a suitable partner is to distinguish between what you want and what you need in a partner. Wants are negotiable, needs are not. Wants include the things you think you’d like in a partner, including occupation, intellect, and physical attributes such as height, weight, and hair color. Even if certain traits may appear to be crucially important to you at first, over time you’ll often find that you’ve been needlessly limiting your choices. For example, it may be more important, or at least as important, to find someone who is:
Curious rather than extremely intelligent. Curious people tend to grow smarter over time, while those who are bright may languish intellectually if they lack curiosity.
Sensual rather than sexy.
Caring rather than beautiful or handsome.
A little mysterious rather than glamorous.
Humorous rather than wealthy.
From a family with similar values to yours, rather than someone from a specific ethnic or social background.
Needs are different than wants in that needs are those things that matter to you most, such as values, ambitions, or goals in life. These are probably not the things you can find out about a person by eyeing them on the street, reading their profile on a dating site, or sharing a quick cocktail at a bar before last call.
This exercise can help you explore possible activities you think might be a turn-on for you or your partner. Try thinking of an experience or a movie that aroused you and then share your memory with your partner. This is especially helpful for people with low desire.
Do Kegel exercises
Both men and women can improve their sexual fitness by exercising their pelvic floor muscles. To do these exercises, tighten the muscle you would use if you were trying to stop urine in midstream. Hold the contraction for two or three seconds, then release. Repeat 10 times. Try to do five sets a day. These exercises can be done anywhere—while driving, sitting at your desk, or standing in a checkout line. At home, women may use vaginal weights to add muscle resistance. Talk to your doctor or a sex therapist about where to get these and how to use them.
Try to relax
Do something soothing together before having sex, such as playing a game or going out for a nice dinner. Or try relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises or yoga.
Use a vibrator
This device can help a woman learn about her own sexual response and allow her to show her partner what she likes.
Don’t give up
If none of your efforts seem to work, don’t give up hope. Your doctor can often determine the cause of your sexual problem and may be able to identify effective treatments. He or she can also put you in touch with a sex therapist who can help you explore issues that may be standing in the way of a fulfilling sex life.
Mandiant good health
Your sexual well-being goes hand in hand with your overall mental, physical, and emotional health. Therefore, the same healthy habits you rely on to keep your body in shape can also shape up your sex life.
Smoking contributes to peripheral vascular disease, which affects blood flow to the penis, clitoris, and vaginal tissues. In addition, women who smoke tend to go through menopause two years earlier than their nonsmoking counterparts. If you need help quitting, try nicotine gum or patches or ask your doctor about the drugs bupropion (Zyban) or varenicline (Chantix).
Use alcohol in moderation
Some men with erectile dysfunction find that having one drink can help them relax, but heavy use of alcohol can make matters worse. Alcohol can inhibit sexual reflexes by dulling the central nervous system. Drinking large amounts over a long period can damage the liver, leading to an increase in estrogen production in men. In women, alcohol can trigger hot flashes and disrupt sleep, compounding problems already present in menopause.
Over indulgence in fatty foods leads to high blood cholesterol and obesity—both major risk factors for cardiovascular disease. In addition, being overweight can promote lethargy and a poor body image. Increased libido is often an added benefit of losing those extra pounds.
Use it or lose it
When estrogen drops at menopause, the vaginal walls lose some of their elasticity. You can slow this process or even reverse it through sexual activity. If intercourse isn’t an option, masturbation is just as effective, although for women, this is most effective if you use a vibrator or dildo (an object resembling a penis) to help stretch the vagina. For men, long periods without an erection can deprive the penis of a portion of the oxygen-rich blood it needs to maintain good sexual functioning. As a result, something akin to scar tissue develops in muscle cells, which interferes with the ability of the penis to expand when blood flow is increased.
Putting the fun back into sex
Even in the best relationship, sex can become ho-hum after a number of years. With a little bit of imagination, you can rekindle the spark.
Maybe you’ve never had sex on the living room floor or in a secluded spot in the woods; now might be the time to try it. Or try exploring erotic books and films. Even just the feeling of naughtiness you get from renting an X-rated movie might make you feel frisky.
Create an environment for love-making that appeals to all five of your senses. Concentrate on the feel of silk against your skin, the beat of a jazz tune, the perfumed scent of flowers around the room, the soft focus of candlelight, and the taste of ripe, juicy fruit. Use this heightened sensual awareness when making love to your partner.
Leave love notes in your partner’s pocket for him or her to find later. Take a bubble bath together—the warm cozy feeling you have when you get out of the tub can be a great lead-in to sex. Tickle. Laugh.
Expand your sexual repertoire and vary your scripts. For example, if you’re used to making love on Saturday night, choose Sunday morning instead. Experiment with new positions and activities. Try sex toys and sexy lingerie if you never have before.
There’s about 546 reasons why food is everything, and now scientists have found another big benefit to keeping a woman well-fed. (Listen up, gentlemen!)
In a study recently published by the journal Appetite, researchers found that there was a very close correlation between a woman’s appetite and romantic desire.
Researchers looked at the brain’s reaction to hunger in 20 healthy, young women. They were asked not to eat for eight hours before the experiment. First, the participants were shown romantic images, such as people holding hands, while their brain’s activity was scanned. The women were then fed a liquid meal-replacement drink. Afterwards, they were asked to look at the same romantic images again, now with a full stomach, as their brains were scanned once more.
The findings showed that the women were much more open to romance after they were satiated, based on the activation levels in the brain scans. In other words, a woman is more likely to, ahem, get in the mood after she enjoys a good meal.
“They were more responsive to romantic cues,”author Alice Ely, now a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California, San Diego told Time.com.”Instead of being anxious and annoyed and irritable when you’re hungry…once we’re sated, then we can get on to better things.”
The study’s authors note, though, that more research needs to be done on the subject.”It’s all very speculative, but it’s still very interesting and a sort of unexpected finding,” said Ely.
Still, you now have the best excuse ever for your partner to take you out to dinner or cook you an amazing dish: science!