As the late, great George Michael sang in his acid-washed tight jeans: “Sex is natural. Sex is good. Not everybody does it, but everybody should.” A recent study has given us another reason to sing: sex might just slow the aging process.
In a study published in the medical journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, researchers compared the length of DNA strand protectors, called telomeres, from 129 mothers in committed relationships.
Telomeres are a good indicator of health. They shorten with age, so the older you are and the shorter your telomeres, the more likely you are to develop a degenerative disease or to prematurely die, according to lead researcher Tomás Cabeza de Baca of the University of California, San Francisco.
“Past research has found that high quality, satisfactory relationships and sexual intimacy are good for physical and mental health,” Cabeza de Baca told PsyPost.org.
“Based on this body of research, we wanted to explore whether there was a health-enhancing relationship between sexual intimacy, telomere length, a biological index of systemic aging and health, and telomerase, an enzyme produced by cells to lengthen telomeres.
“We also examined whether there was an association between relationship satisfaction, positive/negative partner interactions and our two measures of health (telomere length and telomerase activity).”
Although there isn’t a real way to measure partner support, relationship satisfaction or stress against telomeres, women who reported having sex at least once a week had longer telomeres.
“Our findings, although important, were largely exploratory,” Baca explained. “Our results were amassed from a small cross-sectional sample of 129 partnered women who were either caregivers to a child with autism or to a neuro-typical child.”
It isn’t a cause-and-effect finding, and it might just be that healthier women have more sex, but who needs an excuse to have more sex?
No worries if you don’t have a partner; masturbation works just as well.
Now if you’ll excuse us, we’re off to live forever.