A new study suggests that a busy sex life could be beneficial for a man’s heart. Although the team note that other studies have also found a link between sex and lower cardiovascular risk, this time they found a chemical association in their blood.
The researchers from the National Defence Medical Centre in Taiwan found that individuals, especially men, who had sex more often had significantly lower levels of the serum homocysteine in their blood. Homocysteine is a common sulfur-containing amino acid that's been a long-established risk factor for cardiovascular disease. In fact, high levels of it have even been shown to indicate the early development of heart disease.
“Decreased sexual frequency correlated with higher homocysteine levels in a nationally representative sample of US adults, especially men; this might increase the risk of cardiovascular disease or other atherothrombotic events,” the study explains.
The team gathered data on 2,267 participants from the US between the ages of 20 to 59 years old, who had their homocysteine levels on record and had filled out a questionnaire on their sexual behavior and cardiovascular health. They focused their study on this question: “In the past 12 months, about how many times have you had vaginal or anal sex?” Their findings were published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine.
The study was shared on a Reddit r/Science thread, where the burning question was: “Does sex with yourself count?” Posed a little more scientifically, the question really is whether it works by ejaculating or whether it is the physical act of sexual intercourse that does the trick? That’s hard to say, however, since the study only looked at sex between two people.
Unfortunately, it’s harder to dig deeper into this question as the reason for the decrease in homocysteine levels was not examined in their research. Instead, they only found a correlation between high homocysteine levels and not having regular sex. Equally, it doesn’t explain why this phenomenon is not significantly seen in women.
"A relationship does exist between sex and heart disease risk,” said Dr Mike Knapton from the British Heart Foundation, according to the Telegraph. Nevertheless, although the study put forward an "interesting result”, he said it does not prove that regular sex lowers homocysteine levels.
A separate study in 2010, published in The American Journal of Cardiology, also discovered that men who had sex twice a week or more had a lower risk of heart disease than those who only had it once a month or less. Once again, this did not strictly apply for women.