When the temperatures outside hover around freezing, it's only natural to want to warm up in the most sensual way possible: getting under the covers with your sweetie. Not only is sex a great way to connect and have some fun, it may also come with a number of not-so-apparent health benefits. (See our infographic to the right. Click on it for a larger view.)
Many of us know anecdotally that a little time between the sheets can help blow off some major steam, but science backs this up. Recent studies have shown that semen contains mood-boosting hormones, and that the act itself may stimulate the release of stress-busting compounds in the body.
Need more convincing? Sex has also proven to benefit the immune and cardiovascular systems. Researchers have discovered that getting busy twice a week can result in higher levels of immunoglobulin, which is an important antibody that might help you escape colds and flu. Moreover, studies suggest that oral sex could be good for the heart, because semen contains a protein known to lower the risk of preeclampsia, or high blood pressure during pregnancy.
Further, if you find yourself unable to make it to the gym on a busy day, you can substitute some vigorous action in the bedroom. It's not as much of a workout as aerobics or biking, but it beats sitting on the couch. You can burn about five calories per minute having sex—so why not aim for a marathon session? Call it a good excuse to burn off the calories from all that chocolate.
Regular sex may also help stave off a condition called vaginal atrophy, which tends to affect women near menopause or after. Sexual activity may also increase pain tolerance. Studies show that self-stimulation resulting in orgasm can heighten pain tolerance.