Sex isn’t just fun and games. Science says there are plenty of incredible health benefits, too. Having sex can relieve stress, improve sleep, lower blood pressure, boost your immunity, and, of course, make you feel more connected to your partner. Now, research suggests the good news doesn’t stop there: Having sex at least once a week may also help you live longer.
For one week, researchers at the University of California in San Francisco tracked the sex lives of a group of 129 mothers who were in relationships. The participants 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.
When the researchers compared the women’s reports to their blood samples, they found a fascinating pattern. Mothers who had sex with their partners at least once during that week had significantly longer telomeres—the protective cap on DNA that determines a cell’s lifespan—than those who did not. Here are 7 more unexpected health benefits from sex.
Telomeres are vital to healthy aging
Over time, telomeres break down as a result of things like poor diet, heavy drinking, and the natural process of growing older, according to the study authors. But their results suggest that regular sex can repair and lengthen telomeres, which means cells live longer and help keep you younger. Researchers have linked shorter telomeres to serious health issues like cancer, heart disease, and diabetes; longer telomeres seem to help prevent disease. The study is small, and the findings will need to be confirmed with further research. But there’s nothing wrong with applying these findings to your relationship. These are 9 ways not having sex changes your health.
Having sex also impacts your relationship happiness
Slowing down aging may be a huge perk of having sex once a week, but it may also benefit your relationship: Although there’s no magic formula for couples’ sexual happiness, a 2017 study published in the Archives of Sexual Behavior adds to research showing an ideal amount of sex per week exists. The study found that the average adult enjoys 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, confirms that once a week is indeed the magic number of sex sessions couples need for overall happiness. The study surveyed more than 30,000 Americans for 40-plus years and discovered that couples who had sex more than once a week weren’t any happier than those who had sex just once a week. According to lead study researcher Amy Muise, the old saying less is more could apply to sex—but that doesn’t mean you have to follow a strict schedule. “Our findings suggest that it’s important to maintain an intimate connection with your partner,” she says. “But you don’t need to have sex every day as long as you’re maintaining that connection.”
And there you have it: Having sex once a week is the prime number for slowing down aging and boosting your overall happiness. If you’re struggling to rekindle your spark in the bedroom, steal these habits of these couples with steamy sex lives. And here are some more science-backed ways to tack years onto your life.