Sexual intimacy is more than just a physical act. It is also beneficial for mental health, and new research shows that sexual intimacy can strengthen the DNA among women.
In a new study published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology, it was reported that women who had sex with their partner regularly had longer telomeres on their DNA.
The preliminary study was conducted by Tomas Cabez and his team at the University of California, San Francisco. He wrote, “Past research has found that high quality, satisfactory relationships and sexual intimacy are good for physical and mental health. 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.”
In their study, they examined the link between sexual intimacy and telomere length in 129 women in relationships. A telomere is the region at each end of a chromosome, made up of repetitive nucleotide sequences. In short, telomeres act as protective end caps to human DNA. When these telomeres are long and strong, it is believed that they can help prevent chronic diseases. In the past, it was shown that the length of a person’s telomeres can “affect the pace of aging and onset of age-associated diseases.”
In Baca’s study, the researchers measured the telomere length of the women and their telomerase activity by taking blood samples. The women who reported having sex with their partners during the week had significantly longer telomeres than those who were not sexually active. Although these are interesting findings, Baca does admit that the study did have its limitations, and further research is needed to fully support the hypothesis that sexual intimacy affects telomere length.
“However, based on the promising results in our study, we hope that the next step in this research will be to collect data on a larger more diverse sample designed to specifically explore the longitudinal effects of sexual intimacy on telomere length,” Baca told reporters.
Past studies have revealed the health benefits of sexual intercourse, including higher life satisfaction. Additionally, women who had regular sexual encounters were less likely to be depressed. With these already established findings and the new research from Baca and his team, as he says, “There are so many exciting questions to ask regarding sexual intimacy’s role in health!”
The next steps would be to examine if the same effects on telomere length were present in men as a result of sexual intimacy. This would lead to more of an understanding about the overarching health benefits of sex, including stress reduction and immune response.
Marissa is a health and fitness writer from the Tampa Bay area. In addition to researching the latest trending topics, she enjoys instructing kickboxing classes and posting incessantly to her Instagram account.