The People's Perspective on Medicine

People Who Have Sex More Often Live Longer

Israeli heart attack survivors who said they had sex more often lived longer (and possibly happier) than those who had sex infrequently or not at all.

An active sex life might improve your longevity. That’s the conclusion of a long-running Israeli study of heart attack survivors (American Journal of Medicine, online, July 8, 2019). Those who had sex more often had better survival rates over the next decade or so. 

How Did the Study Work?

Between February 15, 1992 and February 15, 1993, 1,120 men and women who survived a first heart attack were recruited into this prospective trial. They provided the investigators data about their sexual activity frequency at the time of their initial hospitalization. Five years later they answered more questions about their sex lives. The final interview occurred between 10 and 13 years after the initial heart attack.

Patients who reported having some sex at the beginning of the study were 8% less likely to die during the study period than those who said they’d not had sex during the year prior to the heart attack. People who had sex weekly were 12% less likely to succumb during the same period. Those who engaged in sexual intercourse more than once a week did the best. They were 27% less likely to die than the no-sex group.

After the Heart Attack, Some People Had Sex More Often Than Others:

After a heart attack, people are sometimes afraid to have sex. Those survivors who had sex more often after their heart attacks were roughly 37% less likely to die during the follow-up period than subjects who abstained.

There were other differences that had to be taken into account. People who were sexually active were more likely to have a partner, were more likely to exercise and were healthier overall. As a consequence, the researchers had to adjust for the effects of those beneficial factors. In summary, though, the investigators hypothesize that regular sexual activity may itself affect human physiology in ways that could lead to longer life.

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About the Author
Terry Graedon, PhD, is a medical anthropologist and co-host of The People’s Pharmacy radio show, co-author of The People’s Pharmacy syndicated newspaper columns and numerous books, and co-founder of The People’s Pharmacy website. Terry taught in the Duke University School of Nursing and was an adjunct assistant professor in the Department of Anthropology. She is a Fellow of the Society of Applied Anthropology. Terry is one of the country's leading authorities on the science behind folk remedies. .
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Citations
  • Kepler SB et al, "Frequency of sexual activity and long-term survival after acute myocardial infarction." American Journal of Medicine, online, July 8, 2019. DOI: 10.1016/j.amjmed.2019.06.019
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I wonder if masturbation would have benefits for elderly singles?

Those in their 70s, 80s, 90s and up without a spouse or partner for many decades should do what?

What is reported is a correlation, not causation. The same thing that lead to more exercise and better health may have also lead to more sex and fewer heart attacks.

As has often been said, this is an association, not a proven cause-and-effect relationship. Simply put, healthier, stronger people may as a result have more sex, not the converse. Proof of cause and effect would be very difficult to prove!

And what are people who have no ready available partners supposed to do? Believe this stuff and give up an early ghost?

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