Sex and the Sun: Orgasms have mental, physical health benefits

Written by: Shannon Pagano / Staff Writer

05/17/2012

Sorry ladies, but the old excuse “Not tonight, I have a headache” doesn’t hold up. Research has shown that having an orgasm is more effective than the leading over-the-counter headache reliever. And it costs less!

For most of us, it is common sense that orgasms feel good.  But what we may not know is that while we are enjoying the feeling of our orgasm, our brains and bodies are benefiting simultaneously. Orgasms possess pain-relieving qualities, health and psychological benefits.

The earliest physician, Hippocrates treated many women with “hysteria.” These women, often widows, suffered from what was believed to be a build-up of female semen. It was believed at the time that women produced their own semen and without means to release it, women would suffer hysteria.

The cure for hysteria was to have an orgasm. This was not something prescribed to do at home rather it was the job of a midwife to “rub the part gently and for a long time.” The release of the “female seed,” which was really just vaginal lubrication, cured the woman of her affliction almost immediately.

Since the time of the ancient Greeks our knowledge of sexuality and the health benefits of orgasms has exploded. With the invention of the vibrator and other tools for sexual pleasure, women have been able to cure themselves of many types of pain such as headaches, muscle aches, and even cramps associated with PMS whether they had a partner or not.

Yet another benefit is the psychological effects of orgasms. Women who experience regular orgasms report an increase in satisfaction in their personal friendships, happiness and over all life satisfaction.

Oxytocin is the hormone to thank for the positive effects of sex on the body. Oxytocin helps us feel more relaxed and less stressed. It also aids in the reduction of the stress hormone, cortisol. Less cortisol reduces the bodies stress responses such as rapid heart rate, high blood pressure and digestive issues. Recent studies indicate that men who have an orgasm a day may decrease their chances of developing prostate and testicular cancer.

No one likes stress. It’s not unique to humans. Bonobos a member of the Great Ape family is famous for their stress-relieving methods. This troop of primates engage in a variety of sexual activities. They can be found having sex, giving and receiving oral sex, manual sex, and other sexual gratifying activities. They are blind to gender. The sex acts take place both heterosexually and homosexually. There has been a lot of research on why this troop engages in these practices. The dominant theory is that is the best way to keep the peace. If a troop member is stressed or sad another member of the troop will initiate sex. Bonobos are the least aggressive, least stressed, most well-mannered of the Great Apes. While Chimpanzees will choose war over love, Bonobos choose love over war every time. They must be onto something!

Over the centuries since the time of women afflicted by hysteria to the latest in brain imaging capabilities we are learning more and more about the cause, effect and neural processes of orgasms. We have come a long way from having midwives “cure” us with rubbing, to having a myriad of sex toys at our disposal for the handy at home remedy. Research supports the idea that orgasms are good for the body and psyche. From minor pain relief, to better mental health, orgasms remain one of nature’s greatest gifts.

What we know is that finally something that feels so good is actually healthy too! Next time you feel a headache coming on or just feeling blue, instead of reaching for the asprin, reach for your “goody drawer.”

Perhaps, the old saying should be, “an orgasm a day keeps the doctor away.”