THINK ON THESE: Let’s talk about sex

THINK ON THESE by Henrylito D. Tacio“I like sex,” Liam Payne, former member of boy band, One Direction, told Total Access. “So, what better way than to musically express myself as a young man growing up. I’m into it. I like it. It’s good.”

“Life without sex,” declared Henry Louis Mencken, “might be safer but it would be unbearably dull.  It is the sex which makes women seem beautiful, which they are once in a blue moon, and men seem wise and brave, which they never are at all.  Throttle it, denaturalize it, take it away, and human existence would be reduced to the prosaic, laborious, boresome, imbecile level of life in an anthill.”

In the past, talking about sex is a taboo.  And when they do, it emphasizes on negative factors such as disease, unwanted pregnancies, or pedophiles.  But sex is about pleasure, about having children, and intimacy.

So, let’s talk about sex.  First and foremost, what is the normal erection time for the male organ?  “There is no hard and fast rule,” writes Dr. Willie T. Ong in his book, How to Live Longer: Practical Health Tips from a Heart Doctor, “but the usual range for males is from 45 minutes to an hour.

“From a medical point of view, the male organ should remain erect as long as the sexual stimulus is present.  And it should maintain its erection until it can perform its function, which is to ejaculate and release the sperm.”

Speaking of sperm, what is the normal amount of semen needs to be released?  According to Dr. Eduardo Gatchalian, urologist and past president of the Philippine College of Surgeons, three milliliters of seminal fluid or close to a teaspoon is the normal amount.  Anything less than 1.5 ml is considered abnormal and may be a sign of infertility, he added.

How many times should sex be performed?  Dr. Gatchalian notes: “At 20, you have sex three times a day.  At 30, you have sex three times a night (with your spouse).  At 40 and 50, you have sex three times a week.  At 60, you have sex only thrice a month.”

What happens when you do the sexual act? “First, your heart rate increases, pupils dilate, nostrils flare and sweat glands open,” says Dr. Ong.  “Female breasts enlarge by 25%.  There is also increased blood flow to the lips, nose and sexual organs.  All these changes build up to an orgasm.”

And other than the obvious gratification and pleasure that sex brings, there are several health benefits that people can derive from it.  As Chris Sherwood, a journalist who specializes in medical and health research, puts it: “When being intimate with your partner, thinking about the health benefits of sexual activity is probably not the first thing on your mind. However, beyond the physical enjoyment of sex comes a list of beneficial side effects that can affect everything from your weight to your heart and even your immune system.”

Sex is a form of physical activity and exercise. Like any other physical activity, sex burns calories, which can contribute to health and weight loss. The number of calories burned during sexual activity varies depending on how long the session lasts, as well as how intense the session is.

“Sex burns between 75 and 150 calories per half-hour,” says Dr. Desmond Ebanks, founder and medical director of Alternity Healthcare in West Hartford, Connecticut. It’s comparable to other physical activities, he says, like yoga (114 calories per half-hour), dancing (129 calories per half-hour) or walking (153 calories per half-hour).

Bonus: Sex may also help your muscles stay lean in the process. “Sexual arousal and orgasm releases the hormone testosterone, which, among other things, is necessary to build and maintain bone and lean muscle tissue,” he adds.

Regular sexual intercourse may also help reduce prostate cancer risks for men. Men who ejaculated more frequently (more than 21 times per month) were found to have a reduced risk for developing prostate cancer, according to research published in the Journal of the American Medical Association.

Among women, sexual activity and orgasm during menstruation has a potentially protective effect against endometriosis.  In addition, women who continue to be sexually active after they reach menopause, with a partner or through masturbation, are less likely to have significant vaginal atrophy and are more likely to report sufficient vaginal lubrication.

Eating a healthy diet, and keeping your cholesterol low and sodium in check are great ways to stay on top of heart health, but so is having sex. “Sex is exercise that raises heart rate and blood flow,” says Dr. Ebanks.

In a study published in the Journal of Epidemiology and Community Health, scientists found frequency of sex was not associated with stroke in the 914 men they followed for 20 years.

And the heart health benefits of sex don’t end there. The researchers also found that having sex twice or more a week reduced the risk of fatal heart attack by half for the men, compared with those who had sex less than once a month.

Several studies have demonstrated that those who have sex regularly are less likely to die from heart disease.  The Biological Psychology Journal contains the research reports from Scotland that sexual practices are helpful in maintaining normal blood pressure.

Sexual intercourse may also boost the capabilities of your body’s immune system. Sexual intercourse can increase the presence of antibodies called immunoglobulin A (IgA) in your body. These antibodies help defend the mucous membranes of your body, such as your mouth, digestive tract and airways, against invading pathogens.

Scientists at Wilkes University in Wilkes-Barre, Philadelphia, took samples of saliva, which contain IgA, from 112 college students who reported the frequency of sex they had. Those in the “frequent” group (once or twice a week) had higher levels of IgA than those in the other three groups – who reported being abstinent, having sex less than once a week, or having it very often, three or more times weekly.

If you’re having a hard time sleeping well and common remedies aren’t doing the job, sex may help.  During an orgasm, your body releases substances such as oxytocin, prolactin and vasopressin, each of which is normally produced directly before or while you are sleeping. The physical exhaustion that comes after sex may also help increase your ability to fall asleep.

“The profound relaxation that typically follows orgasm for women and ejaculation or orgasm for men may be one of the few times people actually allow themselves to completely relax,” says Dr. Ebanks. “Many indicate that they sleep more deeply and restfully after satisfying lovemaking.”