Reviewed by Katelyn Hagerty, FNP
Written by Our Editorial Team
When you think of the benefits of having sex, one perk probably immediately comes to mind: the feeling you get when you orgasm.
Or maybe you take an “It’s the journey, not the destination” approach — enjoying the sensations along the way just as much as (if not more than) the conclusion.
Without a doubt, sex can be fun and pleasurable — and should be! But can it also be good for you? With various ways to have better sex and have a healthy sex life, you might wonder if all that good sex gives back to a healthier you.
So, are there any sex benefits for men? If so, what are they, and how do they work? Read on for answers while we unpack all there is to know about the health benefits of sex for men.
Some research suggests sex may boost certain aspects of a person’s well-being and physical health. However, several studies on the subject are outdated or limited, and not all potential benefits apply to everyone.
Let’s explore the relevant research and take a look at the possible health benefits of sex for men.
Sex with a partner may have some protective effects on your cardiovascular health.
A 2015 study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that men who had sex twice a week or more had a lower risk of cardiovascular events — like stroke or heart attack — than those who had sex once a month or less.
Another study from 2016 found that sexual activity with a regular partner might lower the risk of cardiac events later in life — but only for women. Researchers concluded that high levels of sexual activity might actually increase the risk of cardiovascular events in older men, which contradicts earlier research.
The bottom line: More research is needed to determine this risk.
Though more research is needed to know the full heart benefits of sex for men, sexual activity with a partner is considered a form of exercise. Hormones may be responsible for getting your heart rate up when you see a sexually stimulating image, but sex itself is a physical activity.
According to a study by Harvard Medical School, men who engaged in sexual intercourse — nearly 70 percent of whom had a cardiovascular disease — burned about five calories per minute. This is the same amount you might burn from other forms of moderate exercise, like taking a slow walk or raking leaves.
But is it okay to have an active sex life if you’ve had a heart attack or have cardiovascular disease? This is something you’ll want to discuss with your healthcare provider. At your appointment, let your provider know if you’re experiencing symptoms like chest pain, shortness of breath or an irregular heartbeat.
So while you may not break a sweat the same way you would with other cardiovascular exercises, sex does give you a chance to burn more calories than just sitting and watching TV — plus, there are fewer commercials. Win-win.
Another possible benefit men enjoy by having sex? Pain relief.
A study published in PLoS One found that participants who looked at photos of their romantic partners or attractive strangers experienced significantly reduced pain.
However, this study was incredibly small and conducted on just 15 college students, only seven of whom were men. Size may not be everything, but sample size matters — so we can’t really call this conclusive evidence.
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Studies have found that frequent ejaculation is associated with a reduced risk of prostate cancer.
A 2016 study published in the journal European Urology found that men who ejaculated more than 21 times per month were 20 percent less likely to develop prostate cancer than those who ejaculated only four to seven times a month.
While more research is needed to confirm this link, men with higher ejaculation frequencies (which could be a higher sex frequency with a partner) appear to have a reduced risk of prostate cancer.)
A 2019 study observed that orgasms release the hormones prolactin and oxytocin and inhibit cortisol, a combination that makes you feel drowsy and sleepy.
The same study found that people who had an orgasm — either with a partner or through masturbation — had better sleep.
While there are some positive effects of sex beyond an orgasm, more research is needed to determine if the perceived benefits of sex for men are fact or fiction.
Current research has found that sex may help improve heart health, offer relief from pain, improve sleep and lower the risk of prostate cancer.
If you’re dealing with sexual dysfunction — like erectile dysfunction (ED) — that’s putting a pause on sexual relationships with regular intercourse, many factors could be involved. According to the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), heart disease, depression, anxiety or lifestyle choices may affect sexual health.
If you struggle with ED or another type of sexual dysfunction, consult with a healthcare professional to figure out the best treatment plan.
Our sexual health resources can connect you with a sex therapist who can provide online counseling, recommend medication and suggest lifestyle changes for a healthy sex life.