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Picture this: It's Tuesday night and you just got home from work after dealing with your crazy boss and a 30-minute commute. You throw on sweats, and head to the kitchen to see what your guy's cooking (he looks exhausted too). Then it's dinner, TV and -- what do you know -- time to brush your teeth and get ready for bed. Not exactly foreplay, unless your idea of getting sexed up includes spitting into the same sink. But here's the thing: Failing to get over the honey-I-have-a-headache hurdle can hurt your relationship -- and your health. Here are nine surprising benefits of sex that go beyond the obvious orgasm.
1 You'll feel richer Married people -- who, let the record show, have an average of 30 percent more sex than singles -- can be just as happy as they would be earning an extra $100,000 a year by having sex on a regular basis. Says who? The National Bureau of Economic Research. The way it works is the more sex you have, the happier you'll be, and that happiness is what makes you content with what you've got rather than lusting after a BMW.
2 You'll save those sick days Sex once or twice a week boosts levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), which is what helps ward off cold and flu viruses, among others. Researchers at Wilkes University found that out of 111 participants ages 16 to 23, those who had sex once or twice a week showed a 30-percent increase in their IgA levels, giving them more protection from getting sick. Just something to think about when you take your vitamins every morning and pack that hand-sanitizer in your purse.
3 You'll be happier This sounds a bit nasty, but semen might actually be good for you. Your guy's mojo is loaded with nutrients like zinc, calcium, protein, and more, which your vagina absorbs during sex. In a recent study of students at the State University of New York at Albany, researchers found women who had sex sans condoms were less depressed than those who used rubbers. There might be some unfriendly variables there, but either way, there's also proof that orgasms make both men and women feel less stressed and generally happier.
4 You'll be more likely to conceive You passed sixth-grade health, so you know that having sex can, uh, get you pregnant. And of course, the more sex you have, the higher your chances are of seeing two pink lines. But did you also know that doing the deed won't just up your chances of getting pregnant by sheer odds, it'll also make your guy more fertile? A team of Australian researchers found that out of 118 men with damaged sperm, 81 percent showed a decrease in the number of "bad sperm" after having sex every day for a week. The thinking goes that regular sex gets sperm out of the body faster -- and since sperm's quality diminishes the longer it's in the body, it's actually in your guy's best interest (and yours, if you're trying to conceive) to, well, clean out his pipes.
5 You'll sleep better When you have an orgasm, your body produces a hormone called oxytocin, making you feel warm and fuzzy all over (you know, kinda like a little love buzz). You also release endorphins, nature's sedative, which explains why you feel so relaxed (as in, ready for a big ol' snooze) after getting it on. The combination of these chemicals surging through your body is enough to make you crash in a major way, and this is especially true for men. So don't be offended if your guy isn't up for an hour of post-sex cuddling. That move you just did was about the equivalent of a Tylenol PM.
6 You'll look younger If you're spending hundreds of dollars on skin creams every year, you might want to rethink your strategy. Sex can actually make women appear 12 years younger than their true age, a little fact courtesy of Scotland's Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Their study went like this: Judges looked through a one-way mirror and estimated the ages of women on the other side. It turns out, the women who were perceived as being "super-young" happened to be having sex four times a week on average. And it's not a coincidence: Sex has been proven to boost estrogen levels, a key hormone for smooth skin and shiny hair (take that, Botox). So stop stressing out about that new sorta-kinda wrinkle developing on your forehead and hop in the sack instead.
7 You'll have a healthier heart It's the news guys everywhere have been waiting for: Giving blow jobs might just save women's lives. Yes, brace yourselves, ladies, because a Dutch study actually found that women who swallowed semen during oral sex had a lower risk of preeclampsia, a condition of high blood pressure that can be caused by pregnancy. Yes, really. Also, a British study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health showed that having sex at least twice a week could cut a man's chances of a fatal heart attack in half compared with men who only got it on less than once a month.
8 You'll feel more in love The oxytocin that's released during orgasm doesn't just boost your mood, it also makes you feel closer to your partner. The hormone, particularly for women, has a bonding effect, which tends to translate into many other areas of the relationship (ever notice how you feel all cuddly after doing it, and how much easier it is to be annoyed at him after a weeklong sex sabbatical?). And it isn't just sex. Simple touching or flirty foreplay can also trigger an increase in your levels of oxytocin, literally creating a chemical romance and a sense of mutual attachment. So even if you're not in the mood for full-on action, spend some time exchanging back massages or just getting cozy together on the couch.
9 You'll lose weight Well, sorta. Thirty minutes of sex can burn about 85 calories, although a particularly, shall we say, rigorous sex session can kill up to 200 calories (so figure you just saved yourself about 20 minutes on the treadmill -- or burned off a Pop-Tart). Plus, most sex positions require a certain level of flexibility -- your legs aren't going to just magically land on his shoulders -- while others work your ab, thigh, or arm muscles. Even the standby missionary position can help tone those biceps as long as you're the one on top. If you don't hit the gym quite as much as you planned this winter (funny how that happens, isn't it?), getting busy a few times a week can (and will) help keep you looking buff. Just, you know, try not to pull anything while you're at it!
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