Originally published in an unknown source...not written by Andrew Aaron, LICSW
"Life without love is like a coconut in which the milk is dried up." Henry David Thoreau
"Good sex....Improves our health and may even contribute to our longevity."
Scientific evidence is accumulating support for what many of us have suspected all along: good sex not only adds great enjoyment to our lives, but it also actually improves our health and may even contribute to our longevity.
In a new book called Sexual Healing, Dr. Paul Pearsall, Director of Behavioral Medicine at Detroit's Beaumont Hospital, writes that the joys and pleasures of living life and loving may provide us with something called an "intimacy inoculation" that actually protects us from disease.
Dr. Pearsall, who cites numerous other researchers, concludes, "Growing numbers of physicians now recognize that the health of the human heart depends not only on such factors as genetics, diet, and exercise, but also --to a large extent-- on the social and emotional health of the individual." Sexual healing is achieved primarily through the daily challenge of maintaining a close, intimate relationship which, when accomplished, leads to balance between our health and healing systems. Can lack of sexual intimacy create a risk factor for certain diseases? Dr. Pearsall cites research and his own clinical experience indicating that sexual dissatisfaction seems to be prevalent prior to a heart attack in a high percentage of persons. Conversely, sexual contentment appears related to less severe
migraine headaches, fewer and less-severe symptoms of premenstrual syndrome for women and a reduction in symptoms related to chronic arthritis for both genders.
Although the exact biological mechanisms are not yet identified, many researchers are investigating how our thoughts, feelings, brain, immune system and sexual/genital system interact, influence each other and affect our health. There may be an actual biological drive toward closeness, intimacy and being connected to other human beings.
When we experience intimate, mutually caring sexual intimacy, we may experience a measurable change in neurochemicals and hormones that pour through the body and help promote health and healing.
"Hormones that pour through the body help promote health and healing."
Does this mean that to live longer or be more healthy we just need to DO IT more often or better? Of course not! Sex is a much broader concept that genital connecting or having an orgasm. Psychologist and author Gina Ogden, Ph.D. notes in her book "Women Who Love Sex" that sex has everything to do with openness, connection to and bonding with a partner, feelings about what is happening to us and memories. For those who love it, sex permeates their lives and is not merely a specialized, time-intensive, physical activity that takes place under the covers--as quickly as possible.
As a result of interviewing many women, Dr. Ogden learned that sexual desire, or lust, was produced by much more than physical stimulation. For women, according to Dr.Ogden, it has more to do with feelings of connectedness in their relationships: "Heart to heart, soul to soul, even mind to mind."
"For women, it has to do with feelings of connectedness in their relationships."
When discussing sexual connecting, Dr. Ogden's interviewees spoke of a FLOWING CONTINUUM OF PLEASURE, ORGASM AND ECSTASY, rather than a one-time experience. They also described peak sexual experiences as coming from stimulation all over their bodies--not just from their genitals--including fingers, toes, hips, lips, neck and earlobes.
Obviously, arousal and satisfaction evolve not only from receiving sexual energy but also from the joy of stimulating one's partner. Sex, then, is a commitment of give and take.
Finally, the women Dr. Ogden studied have their own concepts of safe sex, essential to experiencing sexual pleasure and ecstasy. This kind of safe sex does NOT relate to preventing STDs or pregnancy; it relates, instead, to emotional and spiritual safety. Such safety is CRUCIAL for sexual closeness. Most of the women insisted that warm, loving connections with themselves and with their partners were essential to and inseparable from the experience of sexual ecstasy.
When people feel deeply close while merely holding hands, they are having sex. When people display caring for each other through hugs, caresses and kissing, they are also having sex. When connecting people in a crowded room wink at each other in their own secret way, they are communicating sex to each other; such non-contact sex can be excitedly arousing and emotionally fulfilling. And, of course, during sexual union when the sky seems to open so a lightning bolt can strike the couple--while fireworks ignite and the earth stops spinning-- this is sex, too.
But wait. Do men also need this almost spiritual connection to enjoy sex and achieve good health? Well, yes and no. Men need sex and men need emotional connection, but many men don't necessarily need to put the two together!
According to Dr. Bernie Zilbergelt, who wrote The New Male Sexuality, sex for women is intertwined with personal connection. For some men, sex is unto itself--an act to be engaged in with or without love, with or without commitment, with or without connection.
Presently, younger boys are being socialized in a more enlightened manner; consequently, male attitudes toward sexual union are changing. But,unfortunately, the socialization of many men born in or before the 60's provided very little information of value to the formation and maintenance of intimate relationships. These men were taught, as youths, that males showed love by doing, not by talking or "connecting" with girls.
"Fortunately, anyone can...restore closeness, intimacy, and sexual flow."
Older men were usually also socialized to be strong and self-reliant, which usually means one doesn't easily talk about or admit personal problems. Many such men do not acknowledge worries and fears to their partners; they simply try to handle everything on their own. A consequence of such reticence is (1) lack of intimacy in the relationship, with the wife feeling "left out" of her husband's life; and (2) men often don't get what they need because they don't know how to ask for it, so they feel distanced and frustrated when they really want closeness and intimacy as much as their partner does.