Health benefits of sexual expression

Sist oppdatert:

Cupido’s summary of facts and indications on the relationship between good sexual  health and good overall health - A collection of "evidence" in need of an update.

Cupido’s summary of health benefits [see below!] is with some exceptions based on documentation from "Health benefits of sexual expression" put forth by then Secretary General of the WAS, Beverly Whipple, in collaboration with Woet Gianotten, Eli Coleman, Terry Hull and others at the world congress of the World Association for Sexual Health (WAS) in Sydney in 2007. The summary was originally written ​​in agreement with Beverly Whipple.

Read more about this summary!

Health benefits of sexual expression
Edited by Terje Gammelsrud, editor, Cupido
Feedback on the robustness of the studies, corrections and updates with new relevant studies would be appreciated.
Please send feedback to
Cardiovascular diseases
Frequent orgasm decreases risk
A one-year study in Wales of 918 men between the ages of 45 and 59 shows that the risk of dying from heart attack is 50 percent lower in men who have had two or more orgasms a week, compared to those who had an orgasm less frequently than once a month. (Davy Smith, Bristol University & Frankel, Belfast University, 1997 - WAS 2007)

Increase of DHEA reduces the risk by 15 percent
The increase in the level of the hormone DHEA, released during orgasm, reduces the risk of dying from heart disease by 15 percent. (Feldman et al, 1998 - WAS 2007)

Testosterone protects the heart muscle
The hormone testosterone, which is responsible for sexual drive, protects the heart muscle if it is exposed to stroke or infarction. (Booth et al, 1999 og Fogari et al, 2002 - WAS 2007)

Frigidity increases the risk of infarction
Frigidity increases the risk of infarction. Frigidity is defined as lack of orgasm, lack of sexual desire and/or dissatisfaction due to lack of sex. (Abrahamov, 1976 - WAS 2007)

Chronic illness
Sexual health and well-being can increase coping skills and treatment motivation
In the case of life-threatening and/or chronic illness, a well-functioning sex life provides courage and resources for mastering a difficult situation. In an Italian multicenter study among men with type 2 diabetes, it was shown that men without difficulty achieving erection had a better quality of life, less disease-related stress and greater metabolic control than men with erectile dysfunction. (De Berardis 2002)
Life expectancy
Frequency of intercourse and pleasure
There are indications that in women, a regular and active sex life can reduce both negative psychological consequences of aging, and the risk of getting sick. (Trudell, Tuegon & Piche, 2000 - WAS 2007)

Frequency is important for men - pleasure is important for women
A long-term study that followed men and women in North Carolina for 25 years, found that for men but not for women, frequency of intercourse was of great significance for life expectancy. Among women, those who reported pleasure during sex earlier in life lived the longest. (Palmore, 1982 - WAS 2007)

End late - live longer
A Swedish study mapping the sexual life to 70-year-old men and women found that mortality rates for men in the next five years were higher among those who had stopped having sex earlier in life. For women, no correlation was found between sex and mortality. (Persson, Sweden, 1981 - WAS 2007)

75 percent of women and men over the age of 60 stated in a survey that sex had a positive effect on their health. (Starr & Weiner, 1981 - WAS 2007)

Self-esteem and quality of life
Masturbation pays
Women who masturbate scored higher on a self-esteem index than women who do not masturbate (Hurlbert & Whittaker, 1991 - WAS 2007) 

Positive experience counts
Positive sexual experiences and others' acceptance of one's own sexuality contributes to a positive self-image (Hurlbert & Whittaker, 1991 - WAS 2007) 

Investment in the future
Frequent and pleasurable sex in mid-life leads to a more active and satisfying sex life later in life (Weeks, 2002 - WAS 2007)

Sex and wellness
There is a significant correlation between sexual interest and one's experience of well-being (Warner & Bancroft, 1988 - WAS 2007)

Both men and women (but more women than men) feel that happiness is related to sexual activity (Laumann, et al., 1994 - WAS 2007)

Among married men and women, 91 percent of men and 84 percent of women say that sex is important (cited by Marwick, 1999 - WAS 2007)
Sexual pleasure
A survey of 3,237 young women and men between the ages of 18 and 26 in the United States compared regularity of orgasm, enjoyment of receiving oral sex, and enjoyment of performing oral sex with self-esteem, autonomy and empathy and found that there is a very high degree of concurrence. (The Association Between Developmental Assets and Sexual Enjoyment Among Emerging Adults - Galinsky and Sonenstein 2011)
Sexual activity reduces menopausal symptoms
Women who have had an active sex life before entering menopause continue to be happy with it. They also have fewer menopausal symptoms. Sexual desire, arousal and orgasms are the most important prerequisites for good development of sexual health in mature women. (Burri et al. 2015)
Oxytocin is good news
The production of oxytocin does not drop during and after menopause, but rises with closeness, love, tenderness, sex, orgasm and other intimate activities. For those with an active sex life, oxytocin acts as a buffer and prevents low levels of sex hormones. (Cupido 5/2015 feature on menopause)
Immune response
A spike in hormones right before orgasm
Right before orgasm, there is a strong spike in the hormone DHEA, to fivefold the normal level. The hormone DHEA strengthens the immune system, and researchers therefore believe that orgasms may play an important role in the prevention of disease. (Conrad & Milburn, 2001 - WAS 2007)

30 percent more immunoglobulin
Students who have intercourse 1-2 times a week have 30 percent more immunoglobulin (IgA) than those who have no sex at all. Good IgA function is essential in order for the immune system to treat viral infections. (Charnetski & Brennan, 2001 - WAS 2007)

Increased flow of white blood cells
Sex and orgasm are not necessary to build up the body's resistance. Sexual desire/arousal itself is sufficient to increase the flow of white blood cells and help boost the circulation of hormones. (Stein, 2000 - WAS 2007)
Breast cancer
Less sex = higher risk
One study shows that breast cancer risk is higher among women who had no sexual partners or had sex less than once a month. (Le et al, 1989 - WAS 2007)
Oxytocin reduces risk
Scientists explain this with the increased level of the hormone oxytocin arising from sexual arousal and orgasm. Increased oxytocin levels are believed to reduce cancer risk both for both women and men. (Murrell, 1995 - WAS 2007)

Semen's preventative effects
Sperm also has a protective effect on the development of breast cancer in females. (Janerich, 1994 & 1996, Rossing et al, 1996 - WAS 2007)

Women who have sex without protection run a lower risk of developing breast cancer, while women who use condoms or a diaphragm have a nearly an equal chance of getting breast cancer compared to women who do not have intercourse. (
Le et al, 1989 - WAS 2007)
Ejaculation prevents breast cancer in males
Men older than 50 years of age who ejaculate 14 or more times per month run less risk of breast cancer than men of the same age who ejaculate 6 or fewer times per month. (Petridou, et al., Hellas, 2000 - WAS 2007)
Prostate cancer and prostatitis
Studies show conflicting results, both that the risk of prostate cancer can be reduced by frequent ejaculations especially in early adulthood, and that high masturbation activity increases the risk of prostate cancer. In this area, it is clearly important to await further research.

Prostate cancer
A survey of 50,000 American men between the ages of 40 and 75 shows that the risk of prostate cancer decreases by 15 percent for every third ejaculation per week throughout the life cycle. (Leitzmann, Platz, Stampfer et al., USA, 2004 - WAS 2007)

An Australian study of over 2,000 men under 70 years of age shows that men who have had four or more ejaculations on average per week through their 20s, 30s, and 40s have a significantly lower risk of developing prostate cancer later in life than men who had less than three ejaculations per week in the same age range. The risk reduction was estimated at about 30 percent. (Giles, Severi, English et al., Australia, 2003 - WAS 2007)

The same survey indicated that ejaculations can clean the prostate of cancer-causing substances, and also that the psychological stress reduction that comes with ejaculation may have cancer-preventing effects. (Giles, Severi, English et al., Australia, 2003 - WAS 2007)

In a study from the Danish "Videnråd for Forebyggelse", however, it was shown that control studies in Cuba and England have concluded the opposite, namely that there is a correlation between high intercourse frequency, high sexual activity and high masturbation activity in men 20-29 years of age and an increased risk of prostate cancer. The Danish study states that "in conclusion, it must be considered doubtful whether men's ejaculation frequency is associated whatsoever with a later risk for prostate cancer."(Videnråd for Forebyggelse: "Sexuality and Health," Copenhagen 2012, reference to Fernandez (2005) and Dimitropoulou (2008).)

A Turkish study found that frequent ejaculation may prevent non-bacterial prostate inflammation (prostatitis). (Yavaşçaoğlu, et al, 1999 - WAS 2007)

Seven to twelve years younger
In the introduction to a survey of 3,500 European and American men and women over a ten-year period, a panel of "judges" evaluated participants through a one-way mirror, and a survey was filled out by those who were believed to be between seven and twelve years younger than they actually were.

Among these "super-young" people (as the scientists refer to them), one of the key commonalities was that they had an active sex life with an average rate of sexual intercourse of three times per week (compared with twice a week in the control group). In addition, the "super-young" people showed that they were confident in their sexual identity. (Weeks and James, 1998 - WAS 2007)
Sex organs
Maintenance of vaginal lubrication
Masters and Johnson have already demonstrated that sexual activity is very important for maintaining vaginal lubrication. (Masters and Johnson, 1966 - WAS 2007)

More sex, less inflammation
Women who have gone through menopause and who are still sexually active have a low incidence of vaginal inflammation. The more often women masturbate or have sex, the less inflammation they experience. (Leiblum, Bachman & Kemmann, 1983 - WAS 2007)

Erections - A necessity
Regular erections are required to keep the penis in shape. (Montorsi, Guazzo nine & Strambi, 1997 - WAS 2007)
Pain control
Orgasm: a painkiller
Both men and women have long reported that sexual activity relieves chronic pain. (Kaplan, 1984, Shapiro, 1983 - WAS 2007)

G-spot the most effective
Laboratory experiments show that stimulation of the G-spot results in the greatest increase to the pain threshold, bringing a reduction in pain of around 40 to 100 percent. All stimulation of the genitals, however, reduces pain. (Whipple & Komisaruk, 1985 and 1988 - WAS 2007)

Medicine against migraines, menstrual cramps, arthritis ...
Sexual arousal and orgasm can elevate the pain threshold and alleviate pain from migraine, menstrual cramps, arthritis and other pain conditions. (Ellison, 2000 - WAS 2007)

The reason for this effect is that both foreplay and orgasm increase levels of endorphins and corticosteroids which both relieve pain and prevent inflammation. (Bechtel and Stains, 1996 Ellison, 2000 - WAS 2007)

Orgasm better than medication
Pain relief for migraine seems to happen faster with orgasm than with medication. (Evans & Couch, 2001 - WAS 2007). Beverly Whipple recently performed a study on the effect of female masturbation, and found that pain relief lasts up to six hours after orgasm.
Pelvic floor
Doctors, midwives and a number of research reports describe how a strong pelvic floor prevents incontinence, uterine and vaginal prolapse, vaginal cramps, backache and even hemorrhoids. This is part of the reason why women are learning to do Kegel exercises after birth. Orgasms provide strong contractions of the pelvic floor muscles and increase blood flow in the pelvis. Stronger pelvic floor muscles result in stronger orgasms, for both men and women. (Om muskler og orgasme: Godtvedt (Oslo 1980). Bekkenbunnens betydning for seksuell helse: Kari Bø, Berghmans, Mørkved, Van Kampen (Oslo 2007). Bekkenet på kryss og tvers: Nanna Bjørnstad (Oslo 1992).
Sex and a regular cycle
Women who have vaginal intercourse at least once during the weeks they do not menstruate have more regular menstrual cycles than women who only have sex sporadically or who do not have sex. (Cutler, 1991 - WAS 2007)

Even more regular cycles are seen in women who have regular sex with another woman. (Cutler, 1991 - WAS 2007)

Masturbation relieves menstrual cramps
Nine percent of the participants in an American study of 1,900 women, reported that the desire to relieve menstrual pain was the reason they had masturbated in the last three months. (Ellison, 2000 - WAS 2007)
Easier to conceive with frequent sex
Sex four times or more a week results in an 80 percent chance that a woman will get pregnant within six months. Sex once or twice a week results in a 32 percent chance of conception, while sex less than once a week only results in a 17 percent chance of conception. (Wilcox, Weinberg & Baird, 1995 - WAS 2007)

Intercourse on ovulation day and daily for the last five days before ovulation increases the chances of conception by 37 percent. Intercourse every other day during this period increases the chances by 33 percent, while intercourse only one day per week increases chances by 15 percent. (Wilcox, Weinberg & Baird, 1995 - WAS 2007)

Several days' abstinence reduces sperm quality
Semen quality is reduced after 5 days of abstinence. For men with fertility problems, quality may be reduced after just 0-2 days of abstinence. (Levitas, Lunenfeld, Weiss et al., 2005 - WAS 2007)

Men with fertility problems can in certain instances increase the amount of semen by up to 200 percent through repeated ejaculation over the course of 4-24 hours. (Tur-Kaspa, et al., 1994 - WAS 2007)

Arousal is stimulating
Sexual arousal is important for a woman's ability to conceive. The more excited she and her partner are, the greater the chances that she will conceive. High arousal in a man improves semen quality. High arousal in women optimizes the conditions for semen. (Levin, 2002 - WAS 2007)
A late start inhibits fertility
An early sexual debut can make you more fertile later in life. Young women who have intercourse within seven years of their first period will have significantly fewer problems with fertility later in life. Those women who struggle the most with serious fertility problems had a later sexual debut.
More happiness, tenderness and better communication
In evaluations four months after birth, couples where both had a pleasure-rich sex life during pregnancy reported more tenderness and better communication than couples who had not had mutual enjoyment of sex during pregnancy.

Three years after birth, the same couples reported that the relationship was happier, more stable and less affected by pregnancy and childbirth than what was reported from couples who had not experienced mutually satisfying sex during pregnancy. (Heinig & Engfer 1988 - WAS 2007)

Lower risk of premature birth
Women who have frequent intercourse during pregnancy weeks 23 and 26 show a markedly reduced risk of giving birth prematurely. (Read & Klebanoff 1993 - WAS 2007)

It is believed that women who have sex late in pregnancy have a reduced risk of giving birth prematurely. (Sayle, et al., 2001 - WAS 2007).

Swallowing recommended
Several studies show that oral sex (where the woman swallows the man's sperm) during a period before pregnancy is associated with a lower risk of elevated blood pressure which can lead to kidney failure during pregnancy. (Koelman, Coumans, Nijman et al., 2000, Dekker, Robillard & Hulsey, 1998 Einarsson, Sangi-Haghpeykar & Gardner, 2003 - WAS)
Spasms and muscle tension
Muscle relaxation for nine hours after ejaculation
Men with spinal cord injuries experience very good (42%) or good (29%) muscle relaxation during an average period of nine hours after ejaculation using rectal vibrator stimulation. (Halstead & Saeger, 1991 - WAS 2007)

Men with spinal cord injuries who ejaculate using vibrator stimulation of the penis experience a significant reduction in spasms, and potential improvement of bladder function. (Biering-Sorensen, Læssøe, Sonksen et al., 2005 - WAS 2007)

Up to 24 hours of better coping with daily living tasks
A similar reduction of spasms was also experienced by men with spinal cord injuries after rectal vibrator stimulation even when they do not ejaculate. Men report better mastery of everyday tasks for 3-24 hours after ejaculation. The authors of this study also found comparable results with a small group of women, but the findings have not yet been processed. (Halstead, Seager, Houston et al., 199 3 - WAS 2007)
High risk: Homosexual men who live without sex
Both homosexual, bisexual and heterosexual men who live in abstinence are at risk for depression and suicide. Homosexual men who live without sex run the greatest risk of one day taking their own life. The researchers suggest that sexual activity and acceptance of sexual orientation will promote mental health. (Bagley & Tremblay, 1997 - WAS 2007)
Those experiencing pleasure rarely show aggressive behavior
When the brain's pleasure circuits are 'on', the violence circuit is ‘off’, and vice versa. People with a personality characterized by a capacity for pleasure show little inclination to aggressive or violent behavior, and people with an aggressive personality show little capacity for tolerance and sensual pleasure (Prescott, 1975 - WAS 2007).

Nonviolent vs. violent cultures
In a statistical study comparing cultures that allow and forbid sex before marriage, it was shown that 67 percent of 24 cultures that accept premarital sex are non-violent, while 73 percent of 11 cultures that punish premarital sex are very violent. When comparing attitudes toward sex outside of marriage, the relationship becomes even clearer. 74 percent of 19 cultures that condone sex outside of marriage are non-violent, while 78 percent of 23 cultures that punish sex outside of marriage are very violent (Prescot, 2005 - WAS 2007).
Masturbating to sleep
Twenty-three percent of women who reported that they had masturbated during the last three months explained that they had done so in order to fall asleep (Ellison, 2000 - WAS 2007).

A relaxant and sedative
Previous research has demonstrated the same, that the feeling of sexual relaxation can bring on sleepiness (Crooks and Baur, 1983 - WAS 2007). This is because elevated oxytocin levels resulting from orgasm have a relaxing effect (Odent, 1999 - WAS 2007).

A basic requirement
Recent research confirms that sexual desire is the basic premise for the establishment of a relationship, which in turn is the precondition for all forms of kinship, cultures and communities (Fisher, 1982; Fisher, et al., 2002 - WAS 2007).

Mutual desire - a bonus
It is particularly enriching for the relationship when partners feel that they satisfy each others' desires (Davies et al., 1999 - WAS 2007).

Increased stability
Sexual satisfaction in a relationship is associated with relationship stability (Sprecher, 2002 - WAS 2007).

Early sexual play
There are indications that early sexual play (before the age of 15) that does not lead to intercourse can result in more lasting relationships (Davis, 1999 - WAS 2007).

Masturbation enriches a relationship
Masturbation is seen not only as a source of individual satisfaction, but also as an enrichment for the relationship (Coleman, 2002; Zamboni & Crawford, 2002 - WAS 2007).
Mental health
When the frequency of intercourse goes up, the number of symptoms of depression go down
A survey of men in four different countries has shown that when the frequency of intercourse goes up, the number of symptoms of depression go down (Nicolosi, Moreira, Villa et al., 2004 - WAS 2007).

Reduced need for psychiatric medication
A survey of psychiatric patients in the Netherlands shows that patients who use a special "escort service for mental patients" experience a reduced need for medication (Stiefelhagen 1994 - WAS 2007).

Benefits of semen ingestion
American women who have unprotected sex are less depressed than women who do not have intercourse or who usually or always use condoms when they have intercourse. Reduced depression and fewer suicide attempts are seen in women who have unprotected sex compared with women who usually or always use condoms. The reason is believed to be that semen has depression-fighting properties (Gallup, Burch & Platek, 2002 - WAS 2007).
Oxytocin reduces stress levels
Sexual activity and orgasm reduces stress levels (Charnetski & Brennan, 2001 - WAS 2007).

The elevated level of the hormone oxytocin, which is released during sexual activity, causes a reduction in stress levels (Weeks, 2000 - WAS 2007).
Studies marked 'WAS 2007' were presented at The 1st World Congress for Sexual Health in Sydney in 2007.


The documentation from Whipple et. al. is a continuation of work that was presented to the Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA), The Society for the Scientific Study of Sexuality (SSSS), and published in the chapter "Are Orgasms Good for Your Health" in the book The Science of Orgasm by Barry R. Komisaruk, Carlos Beyer-Flores and Beverly Whipple (2006).
The documentation includes extensive scientific material with facts and indications that there is a correlation between a good, active sex life and better quality of life as well as reduced risk of disease.
It should be noted that Beverly Whipple and colleagues emphasize that the research, and thus knowledge, in this area is lacking, and that considerably more research is needed before we can answer with more certainty questions about the extent to which
  • good health is a result of good sex,
  • good sex is a result of good health,
  • good sex is an essential part of feeling good, which in turn is a prerequisite for good health.
The Cupido summary is presented in the Cupido magazine feature about sexual health in issue 3/2009 and in the Cupido online edition ( of August 2011, with some later updates.
With the exception of references to research reports about chronic disease, self-esteem, prostate cancer and menopause, the summary has not been updated with new knowledge acquired since the WAS presentation in 2007. New information about disease and health has been taken from the Danish study "Seksualitet og Sundhed” (Sexuality and Health), published by "Videnråd for Forebyggelse", Copenhagen, October 2012. Information about the pelvic floor is taken from Norwegian scientific literature. Information about menopause is from the Cupido feature about menopause (5/2015).
Health benefits of sexual expression is a part of Cupido’s project for mapping of sexuality as a resource and risk factor in the lifecycle.
Cupido is a Norwegian journal founded in 1984 for sexual science, sexual politics and erotic culture. Cupido has a professional panel of Scandinavian sexologists, including Elsa Almås, Esben Esther Pirelli Benestad, Thore Langfeldt, Torvald Højerback, Gertrud Aigner and Bente Træen.
Terje Gammelsrud, Cupido's publisher and editor, is a graduate of Norsk Journalisthøyskole (the Norwegian Journalist College) (1966) and has been awarded the Norwegian Narvesen Prize for outstanding journalism. He has been a member of the Norwegian Association for Clinical Sexology since 1985 and has previously edited the journal Sinnets Helse (Mental Health) and published and edited the journal Hverdag, a journal for health and social topics.
Hverdag as / Cupido
Karl Johans gate 20
NO - 0159 Oslo
Phone: +47 957 72 451

Relaterte artikler