The Health Benefits of Orgasms

Guess what? The Big O reduces everything from your risk or heart disease to chronic pain.

By Joan Price

Bring up the topic of sex to a group of people who are 50+, and oftentimes embarrassment creeps in. Add specifics like the idea of (yes, I’m going to say it) orgasm, and well, many people want to run for the hills. But when I speak to groups about sex and aging, there’s one piece of advice I always give. It raises eyebrows and gets startled looks, but hear me out: "Give yourself an orgasm once a week. Put it on your to-do list!" 

Here’s why: “Whether alone or with a partner, an orgasm is good medicine!” says Ellen Barnard, MSSW, Sexual Health Educator and Counselor at A Woman's Touch Sexuality Resource Center in Madison, Wisconsin. Barnard cites these research-supported health benefits of an orgasm per week: 

  • Reduces the risk of mild depression.
  • Offers a 36% reduction in the risk of heart disease.
  • Boosts the immune system.
  • Fights the effects of chronic pain.
  • Strengthens the pelvic floor to keep everything in place and not leaking.

Other health benefits? 

Orgasms are useful for decreasing and managing pain. “When women had orgasms, their pain thresholds went up by more than 108%,” says Beverly Whipple, researcher and professor emeritus at Rutgers University and co-author of The Science of Orgasm. And according to the Journal of the American Medical Association, a higher frequency of ejaculations is related to a decreased risk of prostate cancer. 

The idea of sex as an item on the weekly to-do list isn’t as crazy as it sounds. Without that hormonal drive we used to have, we can actually forget to have sex! We're busy, and the biological drive doesn't urge us to have spontaneous sex very often. We can, despite our best intentions, let it go for weeks or more. This is true whether we’re partnered or single. So put it on your calendar, and if you need more help getting in the mood, try these tips:

Exercise first: Getting physical exercise increases blood flow to all parts of the body, which makes arousal easier. It doesn’t matter what kind you do—walking, cycling, dancing—as long as it makes you breathe a little.

Read erotica or watch porn: Give your fantasy life a nudge by reading or watching sexual scenarios that turn you on.  

Relax first with a soak in the tub or a nap: If you’re anxious and distracted, sex won’t work, so take time to ease your mind and body.

Try a new vibrator: Turn it on and it will turn you on. A well-chosen sex toy can speed up your arousal and take you over the top.  

One more thing: If you’re single or in a relationship that has become non-sexual, the idea of solo sex can feel depressing for some people, but that’s a mindset we can choose to give up. Instead, let’s accept sexual self-pleasuring as a marvelous way to nurture our sensuality and release tension, while experiencing the deliciousness of excitement and orgasm. 

Ageless sexuality advocate Joan Price is the author of Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex and Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty. Visit Joan’s zesty, award-winning blog about sex and aging, where she continues to talk out loud about Boomer/senior sex, partnered or solo. Naked at Our Age won Outstanding Self-Help Book 2012 from the American Society of Journalists and Authors and Best Book 2012 from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists.

Comments

THIS SUBJECT HITS HOME IN OUR 38 YEAR MARRIAGE. A FEW MONTHS AGO I FOUND OUT MY HUSBUND WAS WATCHING PORN,EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE I WASN"T TO CONCERNED BUT, FOR THE LAST 3 MONTHS OR SO IT HAS BECOME EVERY 2 DAYS TO EVERY OTHER DAY. HE DOESN'T WANT TO HAVE SEX WITH ME HARDLY EVER. I CONSIDER THIS A REAL PROBLEM AND BLEW ABOUT IT A FEW DAYS AGO. HE IS HARDLY SPEAKING TO ME RIGHT NOW. HE IS THE KIND OF MAN THAT DOESN'T LIKE TO DISCUSS THINGS NO MATER WHAT THEY ARE. I TOLD HIM HE NEEDED TO DECIDE IF HE WANTED US TO STAY TOGETHER AND IF HE DIDN'T HE NEEDED TO GRAB HIMSELF BY THE BALLS (SEEING HOW HE ENJOYED PLAYING WITH HIMSELF) AND SAY SO. I AM VERY FRUSTRATED AND IN THIS CASE I THINK HE WENT OVERBOARD WITH PORN.

kelbel922@yahoo.com on 2013-08-15 08:15:25

About porn -- I certainly did press a hot button, I see. I only recommended porn to couples who enjoy it, which some couples do. Obviously if porn is a problem in your relationship, that is not your best bet for date night -- I wasn't implying that it was. -- Joan Price

Joan Price on 2013-07-16 19:00:49

Please don't think of yourself as "Ugly Hippo" -- you're not! Can you possibly get your husband to go to counseling with you? He clearly has a deep-rooted problem with sex and it's not going to solve itself. Please see a counselor on your own if he won't go -- a good one can teach you strategies for discussing and coping. We could guess at the problem all day, but that wouldn't help you. Getting at the root of the issue will. You've had so much to deal with in your life -- your comment really moved me. -- Joan Price

Joan Price on 2013-07-16 18:56:23

My husband from the time we were married never seemed ever very interested in getting together even though he tells me all the time how much he loves me, and how lucky we are to be soulmates and God allowing us to find each other? I never could figure out why, it's made me feel VERY un-attractive & not much of a woman. Before I met him, I had men asking me out all the time, even strangers/bus drivers, UPS delivery men would follow me into work/make fax deliveries to my parents house to ask me out...so I not ugly. We've been married now 29 yrs. (30 this September 3rd) and out of those, in the past 20 we've not gotten together very much, then 15 yrs ago, never. When we were 1st married, maybe we'd get together a couple times a month. He's "ALL MAN" there's no doubt. He was a devout Catholic when I met him. I'm not sure if this had something to do with it. I would fix myself up in the sexiest outfits when we were 1st married before he's come home from work to see if this would bring him around. NOPE, he would take one look at me, & it was almost like he couldn't wait to get to bed and sleep. If I didn't do anything & he's come home from work, he'd stay up & watch TV, have a snack. I was maybe 125lbs all wet when we got married, then in my early 20's, I was in a accident that put in a wheelchair for good. I can walk around short distances from one area of the house to another, then need to be set down again, have had cancer 4 times, had colon cancer 1st, then my entire female organs were taken & told I was going to die in a week, in my very early 30's. Had breast cancer twice since. I now weigh a ton, & feel like a "hippo", but do what I can to try & keep & get the weight off, (now in my early 50's) I keep myself up, clean, dress up almost everyday, still put my makeup (which he tells me I'm beautiful without it...but if I'm so beautiful, why do I feel so ugly) fix my hair, it's long so I try to make it as sexual looking (men still once in a great while will look at me even though I'm a hippo, helps my esteem a little) for him as I possibly can. He says he loves it, but then what's wrong with me?? I do NOT believe in porn, nor does he, so that isn't something that either of us would get into. He doesn't look at other woman, I know in my heart he's never cheated on me...I accused him once not too long ago if being gay, that was one of the most hurtful things I have ever said to him, so it only made it worse "I think"? He says he wants me but doesn't want to disappoint me. There's no way he could disappoint me ever, & I've told him so. I guess it was just never meant to be. He also says he's afraid to hurt me, I've told him that when we do get together it actually helped my pain to the point when I felt like I've never had pain. So I guess I have to believe in what this article is saying. When he touches me, even just touches my arm & rubs it, I feel like I'm in Heaven & pain no longer exists...I also tell him this, but then he just rolls over & falls asleep. If anyone has any suggestions other than sex toys, porn, as we've talked about these things a few times, & neither of us are turned on by these types of things...Please help. Thank you to anyone that can....singed "Ugly Hippo".. g.kaurich@sbcglobal.net

g.kaurich@sbcglobal.net on 2013-07-16 17:09:46