Women who have regular sexual intimacy tend to have better mental, emotional, physical health, and look younger, a study suggests.
The study, published online in Psychoneuroendocrinology, says sexual intimacy in women has been linked with longer telomeres – a trait associated with slower cellular ageing, improved overall health, and even increased lifespan.
According to the study involving 129 women, women who reported having sex at least once a week often displayed significant telomere length, regardless of other relationship circumstances.
The researchers however explained that other poor health habits, such as destructive drinking, traumatic life events, and childhood abuse, can also shorten telomeres, while healthy lifestyles can lengthen these important cellular structures.
“Although normal life-course processes, such as ageing and cellular replication, shorten telomeres, sustained psychosocial stress accelerates this process,” explained lead researcher Tomás Cabeza de Baca.
“Over time, shortened telomeres may contribute to chronic degenerative diseases and premature mortality.
“There are many physiological and psychosocial mechanisms that may mediate the sex-telomere relationship.
“For instance, we proposed that sexual intimacy may dampen the effects of stress by down-regulating stress response systems and up-regulating immune response. Over time, these patterns of stress function should result in longer telomere length.”
The team admitted there were several caveats to their research, as they only studied mothers who were in long-term relationships.
They said the study does not definitively prove anything, adding that there was the possibility that women with longer telomeres may tend to have more sex, and not the other way around.
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