Sexual Wellness Resource Center
For Adults over 50.

5 Health Benefits of Sex in Later Life

older couple cuddling
By Michael Bates, M.D.

Yes, sex feels good. But did you know it can also be good for your physical and emotional health?

Sex has a positive impact on physical and cognitive performance, relationships and happiness in our senior years. It’s a central part of emotional and physical health and wellbeing. We have talked about the effects of sex on the heart and the brain. Today we will talk about other major benefits of sex in later life.

Sex Improves Sleep

Do you have more trouble falling asleep than you used to? Do you find you wake up more frequently than you did when you were younger?

Along with other physical changes that occur as we get older, changes to our sleep patterns are part of the normal aging process. Besides the standard advice of consistency in your bedtime, relaxing before bedtime with a book or soft music, and not drinking alcohol too near bedtime, sex might be just what the doctor ordered.

Following orgasm the hormones prolactin and oxytocin are released, which are responsible for relaxation and sleepiness. If sex is not right for the moment, a good hug and nice goodnight kiss can also release these hormones—not with a surge like orgasm but still enough to help.

Solo sex counts! Masturbation to orgasm can help you relax and sleep. If you find that reaching orgasm through manual stimulation takes longer than you would like, or your hands and fingers tire, try a vibrator or stimulator. They provide the strong, consistent stimulation required for arousal and orgasm. We offer a quality selection for both women and men in the X’s and O’s Store.

Sex Can Lessen Pain

Above we talked about how orgasm through partnered or solo sex (masturbation) can release prolactin and oxytocin. Also included in the cocktail are endorphins, a morphine-like substance that leads to increased pain tolerance. Chronic back pain, arthritic pain and headache can all be reduced.

Sex Can Boost Your Immune System

Sexually active people have fewer colds and less flu because of higher levels of immunoglobulin A, an antibody that defends your body against germs and viruses. This antibody may also play a role in the natural cancer cell fighting function of the immune system.

Sex May Lower Blood Pressure

Emotional support from a spouse or partner is related to lower risk of cardiovascular disease according to a study in Biological Psychology—cuddling and hugging can help maintain a healthy blood pressure. Research conducted by Michigan State University suggests that in women there may be a link between sex and lower blood pressure.

Sex Counts as Exercise!

Sex exercises the core muscles of the pelvic floor, abdomen and low back and increases your heart rate. Consistency multiplies the benefits. Not to mention, it’s a lot more fun than the treadmill!

What is the take home message?

These are just some of the many benefits that sex in later life can have on your health. Sex not only feels good, it is good for you and just what the doctor ordered.

If you have a question, please feel free to submit it using our Ask the Experts feature.

As per our Terms of Use, this article is for general educational and informational purposes only and is not meant to serve as a substitute for professional medical advice. Consult with your own physician or health care practitioner regarding the use of any information received here before using or relying on it. Your physician or health care practitioner should address any and all medical questions, concerns, and decisions regarding the possible treatment of any medical condition.

References

  • Light, Kathleen, Grewen, Karen, Amico, Janet, More frequent hugs and higher oxytocin levels are linked to lower blood pressure and heart rate in premenopausal women, Biological Psychology, 699(200) 5-21
  • Liu, Hui, Is sex later in later years good for your health, Journal of Health and Behavior, Sept 06, 2016
  • Benefits of sex later in life, health24.com
  • Ten health benefits of sex, Nichols, Hannah, medicalnewstoday.com
  • 10 surprising health benefits of sex, Robinson, Karen, webmd.com