Sex may not actually burn calories, but that's no reason to give up on it.
A report published on Jan. 31 in the New England Journal of Medicine debunked the notion that sex is a good way to burn calories. According to the Associated Press, researchers found that the only evidence supporting this claim was a study conducted on 10 men in 1984. This study found that sex lasted six minutes on average and burned only 21 calories.
Actual "sexercise," as one New York Magazine writer found out the hard way, is difficult work. But just because your sex life doesn't double as a workout routine doesn't mean there are no benefits. In fact, there are plenty of excellent reasons to get it on.
1. It (hopefully) feels good!
If you know your body and are excited about the person you're sleeping with, you're bound to have a pretty great time. So go for it.
2. Even just thinking about sex is good for your brain.
In 2009, researcher Jens Förster found that individuals who were thinking about sex performed better in critical thinking tasks than those who were not.
3. It could help you live longer.
Duke Longitudinal Studies data, published in 1993, indicated that men who have sex more often tend to live longer, and women who claim to enjoy their sex lives live seven to eight years longer than those who are indifferent about their sex lives.
4. It can reduce pain.
Oxytocin, a hormone released during sex, is a natural painkiller. In 1985, sexologist Beverly Whipple found that, after orgasm, women's "pain tolerance threshold and pain detection threshold increased significantly by 74.6 percent and 106.7 percent respectively."
5. It decreases stress.
A study conducted by psychologist Stuart Brody in February 2006 found that people who had recently had sex had lower blood pressure in stressful situations than those who had not.
6. It keeps you looking young.
An August 2002 study conducted by David Weeks of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital found that couples who had sex three times a week or more looked 10 years younger than an average adult who has sex twice a week or less. Weeks spoke with BBC News about his previous research in March 1999: "Pleasure derived from sex is a crucial factor in preserving youth. It makes us happy and produces chemicals telling us so."
7. It boosts your immunity.
In June 2004, researchers at Wilkes University found that individuals who have sex once or twice a week show higher levels of an antibody named immunoglobulin A (IgA) than those who have sex less frequently. IgA plays an important role in protecting the body from illnesses. So, more sex could mean fewer colds.
9. Using a condom won't inhibit your fun.
In January 2013, researchers at Indiana University concluded that sex with condoms can be just as satisfying as sex without. Safe and pleasurable? It's a win-win.
What are the other benefits of having sex? Sound off in the comments below, or tweet @HuffPostWomen! (Not too explicit please.)
Gender and sex are the same thing
Sex and gender are interconnected, but not the same thing. Sex is a biological state that is measured via what chromosomes you have (XX or XY, usually) and aspects of your body and physiology. Gender includes the roles, expectations and perceptions that a given society has for the sexes. Most societies have two genders on a masculinity-femininity continuum. Some have more. We are born with a biological sex, but acquire gender. There is a ton of individual diversity within societies and sexes in regards to how sex and gender play out in behavior and personality. There is an extensive body of data demonstrating this, but people interested only in specific differences between men and women choose to ignore it.
Male and female genitalia are totally different
Most people think that male and female genitals are about as different as can be: penis=male and vagina=female. But even this basic dichotomy is not quite correct: the genitals emerge from the same mass of embryonic tissue. For the first six weeks of life the tissue masses develop identically. At about 6-7 weeks, depending on whether the fetus has XX or XY chromosomes (usually), the tissues to start to differentiate. One part of the tissues begins to form the clitoris or penis and another forms the labia or scrotum. Another area begins to form into either the testes or the ovaries. This means that physiologically, male and female genitals are made of the same stuff and work in similar ways.
Male and female brains are different
If there were really deep seated differences between male and female human behavior and biology they should show up in the brain. The genitals start in the same place and end up looking different, the brain does not. Our brains are pretty much the same. Male brains are a bit bigger than females' (like their bodies) and females' brains stop growing earlier than males (as with their bodies). However, whatever one may believe about other organs, in the case of healthy brains, size really does NOT matter one iota. There also might be a few differences in a small part of the brain called the straight gyrus (need more testing in this one). Other than these minor aspects there are no consistent and replicated reliable differences in male and female brains; it is a human brain... but how we use it is another matter.
Hormones make the difference
Everyone thinks that males and females have different hormones...testosterone for men and estrogen for women. Nope, all the actual hormones in males and females are the same: there are no male-only or female-only hormones. Both men and women can get a flood of testosterone when they get into a fight or take part in an exhilarating sports match. Both men and women can get a flood of oxytocin and prolactin when they pick up a newborn baby. There can be differences in the levels, patterns, and impacts of some of these hormones in male and female bodies, but individual variation is often more important than the variation between the sexes.
Men are more aggressive than women
It all depends what you mean by aggression. Men and women are not different in expressing anger and general aggression, but men are more likely to use physical aggression overall. The sexes are more or less the same when aggressing towards one another, but men are larger and, usually, stronger. Men are not naturally "more aggressive" than women, but can use physical aggression more effectively than women can (barring guns and other weapons). This pattern says more about gender, societies, and male physical size than it does about a hard-wired human nature.
Women are natural parents and men are not
Women give birth and men do not. Women lactate and men do not. However, both men and women have the same potential hormonal responses to infants (with a lot of variation between individuals). Human infants are amazingly helpless and needy and we know that throughout our species history it has taken a lot of people to raise kids. Human bodies and minds are capable of parenting regardless of sex, and our entire history of success as a species is because both males and females (of all ages) have helped raise the next generation. Women give birth and nurse, but we can all care for children; neither sex automatically becomes a better parent than the other.
Men want sex, and women want relationships
This is what most people assume... however, when researchers look at what people actually do, the data show that men and women have more or less the same amount of sex in the same kinds of ways across the lifespan (remember it does take two to tango). But there are some important differences in sexual interest. For example, married women report lower interest in sex with their husbands the longer they've been with them and younger men report higher frequencies of masturbation and interest in visual pornography. But are these really biological sex differences or something else? We still have a lot to learn about sexuality... and as with many other areas it looks like variation is highest between individuals not between sexes. Both male and female bodies respond in the same ways to pair-bonding and there is no biological difference in patterns of attachment or desire. However, survey data suggest that men want many more partners over their lifetime than women. Nonetheless, if you look not at the average of male and female responses, but rather the median (the actual middle of the range of answers), both men and women are extremely close. This is because more men report extremely high numbers than do women and thus their average is higher. Is this biology or maybe a bit of gender roles rearing their head? In reality both men and women want to be with others in a wide range of sexual and emotional relationships... again individual variation is more than between the sexes.