A few weeks ago I reminded you how beneficial sex can be for your health. Turns out, it might even help you live longer!
Perhaps you’ve heard about a new book called, The Longevity Project, by Howard Friedman and Leslie Martin. Subtitled Surprising Discoveries for Health and Long Life from the Landmark Eight-Decade Study, it’s based on 80 years of research that a Stanford University psychologist, Dr. Lewis Terman, began in 1921.
Terman, who was also the inventor of the Stanford-Binet IQ test, selected 1,800 “bright” elementary school children as his subjects. His original idea was to track them until they died, studying their lifestyles and habits to learn more about gifted children and whether they led normal lives.
Although Terman himself died in 1956, other psychologists, including Friedman and Martin, picked up where he left off and expanded on his research to study longevity. Their book tells of their findings.
And the statistic that seems to be grabbing the biggest headlines is the one about women’s orgasms; publications from USA Today to Oprah’s O Magazine are now telling us all to “have more fun in bed!”
Psychology Today ran an article by Dr. Friedman, who summarized what they discovered by saying, “…even after taking the women’s personalities into account, the startling result was very clear: Women who had a higher frequency of achieving orgasm during intercourse tended to live longer than their less fulfilled peers.”
Friedman’s own research spanned 20 years and included 672 adult women who were part of Terman’s original project when they were young. Terman had come up with what he called an “orgasm adequacy” rating, which included questions such as “How well mated are you and your husband, from the strictly sexual point of view?” Responses could range from “very badly” to “no two could be more perfectly mated sexually.”
Friedman says the women’s answers were surprisingly candid considering how “taboo” discussing one’s sex life was back then. (Maybe it’s related to their intelligence?) And he says there’s no doubt about the evidence linking orgasms to long life.
He also points out that “sexual satisfaction tends to play a role in happier marriages and happier marriages play a role in greater sexual satisfaction.” No surprises there!
All the press the book is getting can only help spread the word on how a healthy sex life can lead to a healthy overall life. So here’s to longevity -- and the orgasms that fuel it!
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.