Here’s How Often You Need to Have Sex to Possibly Slow Down Aging
Having sex this many times a week can actually lengthen your life span.
There are a lot of benefits (beyond the obvious) that come from sex: It burns calories, boosts your immune system, fosters intimacy, and of course releases dopamine in your brain—so it might not be a surprise that if having sex helps you feel young, it’s not just in your head. Sex can actually help slow down aging, according a 2017 study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology. It found having sex at least once a week was associated with having longer telomeres—the protective cap on DNA that determines a cell’s lifespan. Longer telomeres are associated with slower cellular aging, and a higher life expectancy.
Researchers tracked the sex lives of 129 mothers in relationships. The women gave daily reports on their satisfaction with their relationship, as well as how often they were intimate with their partners. The researchers also took blood samples from the women, analyzing cells for indicators of aging. They found women who had sex with their partners in the previous week had longer telomeres compared to those that did not.
This type of study only shows an association and can’t prove that the sexual activity was the cause of the longer telomere length. However, telomere length is thought to be important for your health.
Telomeres are vital to healthy aging
Over time, telomeres break down as cells divide, getting a bit shorter with each cell division. Certain factors are thought to make them degrade faster, such as a poor diet, heavy drinking, and the natural process of growing older, according to the researchers. Their findings suggest that sex may be beneficial when it comes to protecting telomeres, which means cells may live longer. Researchers have linked shorter telomeres to serious health issues like cancer, heart disease and diabetes; longer telomeres seem to help prevent disease. (Note: The study is small and the findings will need to be confirmed with further research.)
Sex impacts relationship happiness
Although there’s no magic formula for couples’ sexual happiness, a 2017 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior looked at how often people say they have sex. The study found that the average adult has sex 54 times a year—about once a week—based on data from 1989 to 2014.
Although that number has declined a bit since the 1990s, another study, published in Social Psychological and Personality Science, looked at more than 30,000 Americans for 40-plus years. The researchers discovered that couples who had sex more than once a week weren’t any happier than those who had sex just once a week. The researchers suggest the old saying that less is more could apply to sex—but that doesn’t mean you have to follow a strict schedule.
Overall, it’s important for couples to maintain an intimate connection with their partner. But, you don’t need to have sex every day to maintain that connection.
- Psychoneuroendocrinology: “Sexual intimacy in couples is associated with longer telomere length”
- Cancer: “Mindfulness‐based cancer recovery and supportive‐expressive therapy maintain telomere length relative to controls in distressed breast cancer survivors”
- Archives of Sexual Behavior: “Declines in Sexual Frequency among American Adults, 1989–2014”
- Social Psychological and Personality Science: “Sexual Frequency Predicts Greater Well-Being, But More is Not Always Better”