Q: I've heard that orgasms are good for your overall health. Is that true?
A: Yes, in a delightful example of something that feels good and is good for you, sexual orgasm may help the body in several different ways.
Some benefits are immediate. For example, orgasm has been shown to be a natural pain-blocker, lessening pain by up to 50 percent—alas only during the orgasm.
It's not clear exactly how orgasms work their magic, but it's likely due to hormones released during orgasm. Endorphins, hormones that help naturally relieve pain, are released during orgasm (as well as during exercise and laughter). Orgasm also releases oxytocin, a hormone associated with sleep and with reduced stress levels.
Longer term, orgasms may help you reach your golden years. In a study of 918 men in Wales, those who had orgasms often—twice a week or more—had lower mortality from all causes over 10 years than men who had orgasms less than once a month. In particular, they were less likely to die of heart disease. Of course, the ability to ejaculate is associated with healthier arteries; the same process that causes heart disease can also block blood flow in the penis. So it's hard to know for sure if orgasms protected the men from heart disease, or if healthier men simply had more orgasms. Still, after examining the results, researchers concluded "sexual activity seems to have a protective effect on men's health."
Orgasm's health benefits may also include improving the odds of conception. One idea is that vaginal and cervical contraction during orgasm draws in sperm. Women who have an orgasm have been found to have more sperm in their cervical mucus. By this reckoning, a woman's odds of conceiving might be higher if she has an orgasm at the same time as her partner, or shortly after.
See also: Is Sex a Good Workout?