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this article was from a local NBC affiliate

Oh Yes! Sex Can Be Good For You

Doctors Say That Sex In Moderation Can Lead To Longevity

POSTED: 9:32 a.m. EST November 17, 2003

UPDATED: 9:34 a.m. EST November 17, 2003

NEW YORK -- What would you rather do: Have sex or run 15 minutes on a treadmill?

It turns out, both use up about the same amount of energy -- and when practiced in moderation, doctors say sex can be healthy.

Recent medical research shows that sex can be good for your health.

"You can live longer if you have frequent sex," said Dr. Barbara Bartlik, a psychiatrist and sex therapist at New York Weill-Cornell Medical Center. "It gets your blood pressure up and your pulse up for short period of time and that's very good for your body in general."

Recent studies have shown sex can reduce depression, relieve pain, reduce the risk of prostate cancer, and make you less vulnerable to colds and flu. Women may also benefit from sex-induced hormonal changes.

"If a woman has frequent sex, at least once a week on a regular basis, she may go through menopause later," Bartlik said. "Conversely if a woman doesn't have sex frequently, she may have menopause earlier. And that the earlier menopause comes, the more likely she is to develop bone problems and cardiovascular problems."

Men don't go through menopause, but sex can be healthy for them, too. One study of 1,000 men showed those who had more frequent sex had half the death rate of men who had less sexual activity.

The physical activity involved in sex is only part of the answer. Dr. John Mulhall of New York Weill-Cornell Medical Center says psychological factors may be even more important for longevity.

"I think intimacy is important," Mulhall said. "Intimacy translates into improved relationships and that translates into improved health in general. For most couples in the United States, intimacy involves sexual activity."

"If you look at people over 80 years of age, 40 percent of them are having sexual activity on a regular basis," Mulhall continued. "Whether it's intercourse or other forms of sexual activity is not that important. It's sexual activity. That translates into better relationships and better ability to deal with medical problems."

Of course, too much sex can be unhealthy -- especially if it's with multiple partners. Indiscriminate sex is stressful, and puts a person at risk for sexually transmitted diseases.

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