Love and Sex: Hope or Hype?

Strong intimate relationships can benefit your health as well as any drug. Let us count the ways.

By Michael F. Roizen | M.D. and Mehmet C. Oz from Reader's Digest | February 2006

Q: Are there any health benefits to love and sex?

A: Greeting card companies and tattoo artists aren’t the only ones capitalizing on love. You can, too: Strong intimate relationships can benefit your health as well as any drug. Let us, as the sonnet says, count the ways:

     

  • 1.

    At a romantic dinner

    Red wine contains resveratrol, an antioxidant that increases HDL cholesterol, and flavonoids that reduce damage to arteries. Real cocoa-based chocolate also contains healthy flavonoids.

  • 2.

    Every day

    Studies suggest married men are less likely to have heart disease than single men; happily married women are less likely to develop heart disease than their unhappily wed peers.

  • 3.

    In bed

    A study found that men who had sex at least twice a week were half as likely to die over a ten-year period as men who had sex less than once a month. For women, better — not more — sex is the key. Though it’s unclear how sex might improve health, it’s likely the therapeutic value: Quality sex decreases stress, promotes companionship and increases emotional satisfaction.