March 9, 2008 -- If intimacy and pleasure aren't good enough reasons to have sex, you may want to consider your health.
Men who have sex three times a week can decrease their risk of heart attack and stroke by 50 percent, while women who enjoy sex tend to live longer than those who don't, according to Drs. Michael Roizen and Mehmet Oz.
It's interesting information for a species that thrives on sex.
"Humans maybe are the most sexual species of all," Roizen, an anesthesiologist and internal medicine specialist at the Cleveland Clinic, said on "Good Morning America" today.
He said researchers know this because women are sexually active for almost their entire lives and throughout all times of their menstrual cycle — meaning that they choose to have sex even during times when they are physiologically unable to produce offspring, he added.
Great sex can make your body feel two to eight years younger for women and the same is true for men who have 150 to 350 orgasms a year.
But the benefits don't stop there. Increasing sex from once a month to once a week is the happiness equivalent of an additional $50,000 in income for the typical American, Oz said on "GMA" today.
According to Oz and Roizen's book, "You: Being Beautiful," having orgasms seems to help decrease general pain.
But issues like erectile dysfunction can prevent couples from having better quality sex.
Oz, a heart surgeon at New York-Presbyterian Hospital, said erectile dysfunction problems are not about embarrassment, but health.
He said the penis is a " beautiful dipstick of health."
Because men don't have bones in their penises, they have to rely on their vascular systems to get erections; when the penis isn't functioning properly, it could be a sign of larger health troubles.
Erectile disorders are precursors of heart disease with the majority of erectile dysfunction cases being vascular and 20 percent related to testosterone, Roizen said.
The doctors said high LDL cholesterol, hypertension, prescription medications, alcohol and obesity could have adverse affects on sexual health.
If a man's waist is more than 40 inches, Roizen and Oz say, he could have erectile dysfunction because the fat will take the testosterone and turn it into estrogen.
Reinventing Your Relationship
It's not just physical problems that dampen the sizzle in sexual relationship. For both men and women, emotional health and connection play a role.
Many couples gradually grow apart and have to reconnect, in part, because the chemical handcuffs, like dopamine, that keep couples together begin to wane, Roizen said.
The cuffs slip off after five to seven years and that's when you need to continually reinvent the marriage, he added.
"If you're married 30 years, you have to reinvent your marriage four times," Roizen said.
Roizen and Oz said food could help you put the boost into your relationship because it plays a vital role in sexual desire. Don't think chocolate sauce and whipped cream, say the doctors.
Oz said it's about shapes and smell because they alter your body chemistry to make you a more desirable mate. For instance, for women, it's licorice and cucumbers because of the phallic shape.
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