By Anne Gagliano
In my last column, “Do You Need Sex Like Air and Water?” we learned that yes, men generally do need sex like air and water, especially men firefighters. Ironically, they need air and water not only to live but also to do their job, and they need sex to be fulfilled at home; it all meshes together somehow, doesn’t it?
Women need affection in marriage above all else. “Love Me Tender,” as Elvis crooned, could be our theme song. If our husband firefighters make the effort to connect with us emotionally, we will connect with them sexually and truly desire to do so. It’s as simple as that: symbiotic, mutually satisfying; the dance of love: beautiful. It’s what marriage is all about–two souls joined as one.
But that’s not all. The benefits of a healthy, loving sex life go on and on and are absolutely astounding. Not only do we benefit emotionally from the intimate act of love making, but we actually benefit physically as well. Both sexes experience positive health effects from the entire process, start to finish, and the clinical evidence of this is fascinating.
We tend to think of the “exchange of fluids” as the baser, crass side of the act of love. In this day and age, the connotations even infer disease, which is something to be avoided. Sadly, we’ve forgotten, ignored, or simply never bothered to learn the incredible and marvelous properties of bodily chemicals and the true beauty they contain. We know that we are spiritual, intellectual, and emotional creatures, but we are, in fact, chemical creatures as well. Our bodies need chemicals; they create them; and, in the act of love, we even exchange them–and in so doing we actually extend our life span!
Oxytocin: The Hormone of Love
Did you know that married people tend to live longer? It is believed to be in part because of the wonderful, miraculous hormone oxytocin, which is often referred to as the hormone of love. Oxytocin is released into the brain during orgasm. This hormone triggers bonding, nesting instincts, feelings of generosity, and peacefulness. The more oxytocin there is in the body, the higher the level of bonding in couples. Women also produce high levels when they give birth. Scientists believe oxytocin is the reason monogamy is possible because of its powerful bonding qualities.
A study was done on women to measure their levels of oxytocin. Married women’s levels were naturally greater and rose higher and more easily than unmarried women’s levels. Women experience depression two times more frequently than men do; higher levels of oxytocin reduce the rate of depression dramatically. This is because the hormone actually counters cortisol, the stress hormone that is the chief culprit in anxiety and depressive disorders. Oxytocin does this more effectively than any medication because it is released directly into the brain. Medications and even injections have difficulty penetrating the brain’s protective barriers.
Oxytocin eases stress, which helps you sleep (yes, it is even better than my prescribed warm milk recipe!). It increases endorphins, which help alleviate pain–especially headaches–so the old “not tonight, I have a headache” excuse won’t work, because love making is the best cure for a headache! Endorphins speed up healing and lift your mood as well.
Those shown to have higher levels of oxytocin in their system were more resistant to drug and alcohol addiction. Addictions stem from a desire for the same feelings produced by sex. So it is the best, healthiest form of addiction out there (within marriage, of course). And the more sex you have, the sexier you feel, because oxytocin and the accompanying endorphins boost self-esteem. The better your self-esteem, the better the sexual experience; it’s a beautiful cycle.
Other hormones are released into our bodies during sex as well. Sex naturally increases these hormone levels, which are then more easily stabilized. Balanced, healthy hormone levels create astounding beauty effects, which are better than any face cream, hair product, or nail strengthener that money can buy! These hormones produce lush, healthy hair; clearer skin; and stronger nails. And again, balanced hormone levels mean less depression for both sexes, but especially for women.
Immunoglobin is an antibody used by the immune system to identify and neutralize foreign objects such as bacteria and viruses. It is our first line of defense against colds, flu, and other diseases. A study was done on couples to test their immunoglobin levels; those who reported having sex two or more times a week had as much as a 30 percent higher level of the antibody in their system than those who did not; sex has been consistently proven to raise the immunoglobin level. For the firefighter, a stronger immune system can lower the already higher risk of cancer.
Circulation and Heart Health
Sex increases blood circulation, which lowers blood pressure, reducing the risk of heart disease. Firefighters have a higher rate of heart attacks than the general population. So if you love your firefighter, love your firefighter. Sex reduces the levels of cortisol (remember oxytocin?), which lowers stress–also good for the old ticker. And, of course, cardio activity is helpful in keeping your weight down.
Good circulation is good for the skin as well, ladies, another way to cut down on skin care expenses. More oxygen to the skin gives it a brighter glow and naturally boosts collagen production. Blood flow also brings much needed hydration to the skin, cutting down on dryness. Increased hydration is good for our firefighters, as dehydration is a real danger on the fireground.
Sex two or more times a week does all of this for us–promotes heart health, weight loss, and better skin. Nice!
A Boost to Your Health from an Unexpected Source
This may be a bit surprising to you, but it turns out that semen is chock full of zinc, potassium, calcium, protein, glycoprotein, and selenium. When a woman absorbs semen through the act of intercourse, she benefits from these vital nutrients, which have a marvelous impact on health and overall well being.
Zinc, for example, helps the body manufacture proteins and genetic material, stimulates hair growth, increases the immune system strength, and even assists in lactation. It’s good for teeth and skin as well. Ever wonder why oysters are considered an aphrodisiac? Oysters are one of the best sources of zinc, and men need lots of zinc in their diet to produce semen. Makes sense, doesn’t it?
Glycoprotein and selenium are shown to reduce breast cancer rates; women who have sex two or more times a week are shown to have a 50 percent lower risk of breast cancer than those who do not. Amazing!
This is particularly good for our female firefighters, whose breast cancer rates are higher. And the testosterone in semen is proven to boost energy, lift the mood, and even assists in delivery (if pregnant).
For men, making love two or more times a week lowers prostate cancer risks by a third. For the firefighters, this is huge, for their rates of this cancer are two times that of the general population. Regular love making also produces healthier sperm, which means healthier babies.
This may sound a little corny, but I was very moved when I did the research on this, for the beauty of marriage just took on a whole deeper meaning for me. We benefit in every possible way two people can from the act of love–emotionally, intellectually, spiritually, and even physically. Wow, kind of makes me think somebody up there really cares about us!
- “Health and Beauty Benefits of Sex” by Tristan Coopersmith@YourTango.com, Nov.1, 2010. Wikipedia.orgencyclopedia
- “Oxytocin: The Hormone of Love,” www.oxytocin.org/oytoc/index.html.
Anne Gagliano has been married to Captain Mike Gagliano of the Seattle (WA) Fire Department for 25 years. She and her husband lecture together on building and maintaining a strong marriage.