Living Longer with Love and Sex
Love and intimacy are at the root of what makes us sick and what makes us well, what causes sadness and what brings happiness, what makes us suffer and what leads to healing…I am not aware of any other factor in medicine- not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery- that has a greater impact on our quality of life, incidence of illness and premature death from all causes –Dr. Dean Ornish
These words began a revolution of thinking about the critical connections between our physical well being and our level of connection in life. As a heart doctor, Ornish paved the way in demonstrating not just a mind- body connection, but a heart connection which determines our well being, ability to heal, our most basic ability to enjoy life. That our physical heart is deeply connected and influenced by our relationships is intuitive and has been understood in this light since ancient civilizations, so in some ways the scientific studies only underline what we have always known. Love is the cure as well as the illness in our world, and evolving our ability to love, increases not only our chances of survival but creates a depth and meaning in life that only happens in relationships.
The healing affects of intimacy and connection extend deeply into the physical act of lovemaking. Hundreds of major medical studies have shown that an active sex life leads to a longer life, better heart health, a healthier immune response, reduction in chronic pain symptoms, lower rates of depression and even protection against some cancers. Men who have regular sex (only twice per week) have half as many heart attacks as men who only have sex once per month. In fact, a regular garden variety sex life has been shown to extend life by as much as ten years. People who enjoy a meaningful sex life are less anxious, fearful and inhibited.
In the science of anti-aging the studies are mounting that support the notion that “An active sex life slows the aging process.” Dr. David Weeks, author of “Secrets of the Super Young” cited a study of 3,500 people ages 30 to 101 and found that a regular sex life contributed to participants looking between four and seven years younger than their chronological age according to impartial ratings of subject photos. It is no wonder when you consider that people who engage in regular and satisfying sex; sleep better, feel less stressed and are generally more content with their lives. All are good reasons that great sex takes years off your face.
Not surprisingly, the study also found that it is not the same sexual experience that adds youth and longevity to life for men and women. For women, the enjoyment or quality of the sexual experience was more important to their longevity while the frequency of the act was the case for men. In a related study of 100 women with heart disease, sexual frigidity was present in 65% of the coronary patients compared with the control group. Clearly the notion of use it or lose it applies not only to genital functioning but to our heart functioning as well.
Michael Roizen MD, further explored this seminal work in the 1990’s with his book “Real Age- Are you as Young as You Can Be?” He states that “Having sex at least twice a week can make your Real Age 1.6 years younger than if you had sex only once a week.” He defines ‘real age’ as “an estimation of your age in biologic terms, not chronological years.” Although the relationship between sexual activity/frequency and health/longevity is still a chicken and egg discussion, and research has not determined which is the cause and which the effect- there is no question that sex and long life are clearly related.
posted by Wendy Strgar