Expert Answers Factual Answers to Your Sexual Health Questions
Is it true that orgasms are healthy?
Annette Fuglsang Owens, MD, PhD on September 9, 2011
Yes, some research indicates that having regular orgasms is healthy for women. Most of this research focuses on women who are post-menopausal…but the findings also indicate that women who are still in their reproductive years can benefit from regular orgasms.
When women go through menopause, levels of reproductive hormones (like estrogen) begin to drop. Unfortunately, a drop in estrogen affects the vagina by decreasing some of its natural elasticity and lubrication, which results in a condition called vaginal atrophy. Women who suffer from vaginal atrophy often complain of vaginal dryness and uncomfortable sex.
But researchers from Rutgers Medical School found that post-menopausal women who engaged in sexual activity (sex or masturbation) at least three times a month were less likely to have symptoms of vaginal atrophy. So, at least for women who are post-menopausal, orgasms about three times a month may help counter some of the potentially negative effects of menopause.
That said, how often you “should” have an orgasm is ultimately completely up to you. There is no magic number, just the magic of finding out what works for you.
What about orgasms for women who aren’t menopausal? Here, the research is less clear...mostly because there aren’t many long-term studies that have looked at the relationship between orgasms and general health. However, the Longevity Projectheaded by Howard S. Friedman, a professor at the University of California, may shed a little light on the subject.
In his research, Friedman and his colleagues found one rather astounding piece of data: after tracking more than 1,000 women and men over the course of their lives since 1921, these researchers reported that women who claimed more sexual satisfaction in their lifetime did live longer. (Unfortunately, the men didn’t.)
This isn’t solid evidence that orgasms are good for women’s health. But it does indicate that having a good sexual relationship with a partner (which may or may not involve orgasm) may lead women to live a longer life. Other research also suggests that orgasms may relieve stress and depression.
Just considering the different chemicals that are released during orgasm, it makes sense that they are actually good for you. Brain chemicals such as oxytocin (the bonding hormone), endorphins (which generate a sense of well-being) and dopamine (which is associated with feelings of enjoyment and reinforcement) are all released during orgasm and may contribute to the overall sense of well-being that a lot of men and women feel after sex.
What’s the bottom line? There is still a lot of research that needs to be done on the subject of orgasms and health. But, in general, orgasms are rarely harmful…and may in fact be beneficial, especially for menopausal women. And for all women, it may simply be healthy to be in a sexually satisfying relationship...whatever that means for each individual.
Hopefully this information is useful to you, and I wish you the best of health.
Dr. Owens is an AASECT-certified sexuality counselor. Her areas of expertise include the medical aspects of human sexuality and sexual problems, as well as the impact of STDs ⎼ and other diseases, illnesses and disabilities ⎼ on sexuality. Dr. Owens was educated at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark.