Sex and Your Immune System
There are so many reasons to have sex — pleasure, stress relief, fostering closeness and intimacy, expressing love…the list goes on. But there is also evidence that sex could also support your immune response. A win-win, no?
Sex Helps Reduce Cortisol Levels
Cortisol is a stress-inducing hormone that can cause anxiousness and stress to shoot up in people. While cortisol is essential to our body’s function at appropriate levels, it can cause increased inflammation if it stays in the blood for too long or at levels that are too high.
Both dopamine and oxytocin are released during masturbation or partnered sex. When oxytocin, also commonly known as the love hormone, is produced with dopamine, stress levels reduce. This aids optimal immune function.
Orgasm Increases White Blood Cell Count
The immune system’s white blood cells are in charge of defending the body against infectious diseases and invading pathogens. White blood cells come in a variety of forms, but lymphocytes are one of the most crucial because they produce the antibodies that the body needs to fight off bacteria, viruses, and other potentially hazardous intruders.
According to studies, sex increases the amount of lymphocytes in our bodies. German researchers from the University of Duisburg-Essen found that individuals’ blood levels of lymphocytes increased 45 minutes after experiencing orgasm compared to five minutes earlier, indicating that these vital immune system players respond to stimulation and orgasm.
Another study also found that sexual arousal and orgasm increases lymphocyte circulation which is an innate component of the immune system and is activated either by sexual arousal or orgasm.
Sex Increases Immunoglobulin Levels
The production of antibodies is one of the lymphocytes’ vital functions, as was previously stated. Different forms of immunoglobulins, which are proteins that attach to invasive infections, make up these antibodies. The greater the amount of immunoglobulins in your body, the better able you are to fend off infections.
Researchers observed that, when compared to all other control groups, college students who engaged in frequent intercourse (once or twice per week) had the greatest amounts of immunoglobulin in their bodies.
The Bottom Line
While the evidence points to solo and partnered sex as supportive of immune health, it’s also important to remember that your health is holistic and multi-faceted. Safer sex practices like regular testing and using barrier methods are as important to protecting your health as the sex itself. And as always, consult a medical professional if you are concerned about your immune system or overall health.