It is common to link intimacy and sex and conclude sexual health promotes general good health but, Is Sex Good For Your Health, and how does it actually benefit us?
How Does Intimacy Improve Health?
The first thing to look at is the relationship between sex and in intimacy because there are different forms of intimacy that more-over transcend the act of intercourse.
There are four main forms of intimacy Sensual, Emotional, Physical, and Sexual, all offering a variation on a theme designed to help humans maintain a healthy and happy mind, body, and spirit. At its heart intimacy can be described as an emotional connection between people rather than physical one. It could be said if you have a relationship based on an emotional connection where you are both without fear of sharing private thoughts, desires and vulnerabilities, this is an emotionally intimate relationship.
Let’s break these four forms of intimacy down,
Connecting on a sensual level touching to give and receive pleasure that doesn’t involve intercourse, such as hugging, kissing, massaging.
Connecting on an emotional level, sharing private thoughts, emotions finding empathy and safety.
Connecting on a physical level, sharing the same time and space meaningfully, such as a date night.
Connecting on a sexual level, is where we finally see intimacy by means of sexual intercourse or any other form of sex.
Intimacy And Sex
It’s easy to see that the lines between intimacy and sex can be blurred, after-all we can have intimacy without sex and vice versa. Indeed, if we look to the form listed forms of intimacy we can see that intimacy is more of an emotional connection rather than a physical one. For those in long term relationships you may have found as the relationship progresses in years the frequency of sex may well decrease, but the intimacy may well increase regardless.
If I were to draw an illustration using a standard mechanism within popular cinema, we often see scenes with prostitutes plying their trade. Not to put a too finer point on it, a common them running through these scenes is one that “No Kissing Is Allowed” because it’s personal. Although at first glace this can seems bizarre, looking at the list of intimacy forms we can see it clearly crosses the physical and Emotional forms of intimacy.
What is the Difference between Intimacy and Sex?
As we can see from the list above intimacy and sex can go hand in hand but it’s far from a ‘given’ result because everyone has different requirements when it comes to health giving intimacy. Think of it like this. You probably have a few friends and family that you have an intimate relationship without knowing. Even without sex you are able to talk freely and openly to share thoughts and feelings. How often have you heard the expression “a problem shared is a problem halved“? So with platonic intimacy we can see sexless intimacy provides physical and mental benefits to us all.
The Benefits of Intimacy on Health
Where to start with this? Really! The benefits of intimacy can not be overstated, because just like much of the subject matter here at real anti ageing supplements, everything is connected to everything else.
So, let’s start at the beginning with Stress, Loneliness, Sex Life, and Mental Health.
If you have been following these posts you already know how damaging stress can be on both mind and body. It has been seen that intimacy reduces stress and the reduction of chronic stress reduces the chances of suffering from a host health complications
Consider the long term damage of insomnia, chronic muscle pain, high blood pressure, cardiac events, a weakened immune system, irritable bowel syndrome, and inflammatory bowel disease, and this is the abridged version. In a constant state of stress the body is in a constant state of fight-or-flight which consumes vital nutrients needed to maintain good health, so reducing stress helps prevent a long list of illnesses, and helps the body replenish itself and maintain a good immune system.
For those of us who are lucky enough to have our intimate relationships with sexual partners and platonic friends, it’s difficult to believe that chronic loneliness can shorten life expectancy. As I write this I feel emotion charging through my mind as I think of the horrifying idea that some people are dying of loneliness.
The National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America published a report linking social isolation with increased morbidity and mortality, and yet another study by University of Chicago concluded that in addition, loneliness also impairs executive functioning, sleep, and mental and physical well-being. So it seems healthy human intimate contact offers life saving benefits removing feelings of isolation and stress that leads to life threatening conditions.
Intimacy For Better Sex
If you want to know how to find intimacy it’s fair to say everyone wants sex and everyone wants the best sex, and while sex isn’t mandatory for intimacy, it’s got to be one of the best ways to achieve it. Intimacy can lead to better sex and better sex can lead to more intimacy, so it’s easy to see the benefits of a physical sexual relationship.
It’s not just the act and the happy ending but there are also other processes at work. First you have the increase in intimacy enhancing the relationship and strengthening the feelings of closeness, safety, empathy, and trust, not to mention the release of hormones such as oxytocin, also known as the ‘cuddle hormone’.
The physical act has a real affect on the physical body with positive affects on the immune system, reducing blood pressure, reducing pain, in turn aiding better sleep through one of the best forms of exercise.
Intimacy and Mental Health
Did you know intimacy and emotional support strengthen you and emotional insensitivity can weaken you? Studies have shown both men and women suffer from lack on intimacy and support, although both react in different ways.
Oxytocin or the cuddle hormone will have increased levels when you are touched or are touching others, or indeed sharing an intimate moment as small as making a shared decision. This all helps to strengthen bonds which will help during time of distress, emotional pain, or physical injury.
On the other hand if during time of distress or injury, there is no support or lack of empathy, or even a negative input like humiliation this increases the trauma making depression or anxiety worse, retarding physical and mental healing.
As mentioned, men and women in these situation react differently, such as men who are deprived of intimacy will become angry, while women in this situation become depressed.
Covid-19 and Intimacy
Never more than now have we been aware of our need for intimacy online during the Covis-19 lock-down. It has always been the overwhelming school of thought to assumed that the more forms of communication we had, the less me had to say and the more isolated we were becoming. But can we cultivate intimacy virtually?
If we accept the Internet can never simulate all aspects of intimate exchanges, holding hands for example, it can be seen to conform to the Emotional form of intimacy. While we can define intimacy as sharing of what is personal and private, we can clearly see connecting on an emotional level is possible online.
While the intricate details may be missing from an online conversation without none verbal cues, it’s common knowledge that this contact can reinforce their face-to-face contact between family and friends.
This can be seen in personal communications between friends and family where particular individuals express themselves uniquely with different members of the tribe using both phrasing and electronic emotions. So, online should be seen as a useful tool to help boost and maintain intimacy but not to replace face-to-face contact
The Take Away
Without doubt sex is good for your health but there are certain important caveats to take into account.
Intimacy and sex can be the same but not always, so remember there are different forms of intimacy and people have different requirements. It’s common to a large number of relationships one partner prefers a more sexual relationship, while another cares more for emotional intimacy.
If everyone is different, we all have one thing in common, and that is the need for intimacy in one form or another, so it’s our job to understand the needs and desires of our loved ones. Whatever you want the first thing is to communicate your needs, second thing is to understand and react.
With healthy sex you are setting yourself up for a rich, long, and healthy life free for stress and illness in the long run.
There are however, times when things are not perfect and a help is needed. This may be in the form of a therapist to help work out mental or physical issues. Just as likely, it may just be a boost that’s needed in the form of a health boost or supplement. Depending on the individuals requirements there are many products out there that can help.
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