Sex is usually a word used to refer to any sexual activity, and more specifically to sexual intercourse. There are many reasons, both according to ancient texts and modern research, why engaging in sexual activity is good for your health. Several traditions, such as traditional Chinese medicine, see sexual energy as a tool for promoting health and healing in the body.
Taoism is one ancient philosophy that looks at sexuality as part of healthy living. Taoism is at least 2,500 years old, with the Tao being the name of the force, or the ‘way’ that Taoists believe makes everything in the world. Classical Taoist sexual techniques focus on increasing a person’s sexual energy and retaining it, because sexual energy is seen as life-enhancing.
Qi and Jing
Qi, sometimes also spelled ‘chi,’ is thought to be the mysterious force that is in everything that exists. Its two primary meanings are ‘breath’ and ‘life force energy.’ Increasing the amount of qi that we have, and allowing it to freely circulate through the body, can enhance stamina and vitality, and allow hormones to effectively spread through the body. This, in turn, helps the body to function correctly.
Jing is a type of sexual energy that is created during sexual activity. This can be done alone, which is called ‘solo cultivation,’ or with a partner, which is called ‘dual cultivation.’ Taoists believe that some of the jing can be transformed into qi, therefore bringing many health benefits. The main way Taoists preserve jing is by not losing it through bodily fluids. Since semen is thought to contain the most jing, the practice of ejaculation control for men is seen as key in Taoist sexuality.
Preserving Jing for Male and Female Health
Men can experience greater levels of energy and vitality through learning not to ejaculate every time they have sex. Mantak Chia, a Thai Taoist master, teaches a breathing practice called the ‘microcosmic orbit,’ used for circulating the energy around the body. This helps to bring life force energy to the various organs in the body, and aids in healing. More details can be found in the book The Multiorgasmic Man by Mantak Chia.
Women are thought to lose jing mainly through menstruation and childbirth, and are encouraged to learn to recycle menstrual energy into qi. One way is through the practice of ovarian breathing. To learn more about this technique, I recommend reading Healing Love through the Tao: Cultivating Female Sexual Energy by Mantak Chia & Maneewan Chia.
Ancient Lore of Why Sex Is Good for You
The legendary Yellow Emperor of China, real name Huang Di, was the person to whom much of the Taoist writings about sex and health are attributed. He is meant to have asked a number of questions from Taoist adepts at the time, around the third millennium BCE. The advice given to him included having prolonged sexual intercourse, whilst also practicing the control of ejaculation. For example, engaging in plenty of sexual intercourse is meant to ‘make the texture of the skin beautiful, clear and lustrous.’
Here is an interesting extract from Sex, Health and Long Life: Manuals of Taoist Practice in regards to practicing intercourse without ejaculating. This can lead to such benefits as: ‘your eyes and ears will be clear…your voice will be clear…your skin will be lustrous…your back and sides are strengthened…your buttocks and thighs get shaped up…your urinary tract will be clear…your erection will be extremely firm and strong…your skin will glow…you join in a spiritual glow…the body endures.’
Since the ancient Taoist culture was male-dominant, most of the techniques and benefits do focus on the men. In current times, there is more research to show why sex is good for every gender.
Modern Research on Why Sex Is Good for Your Health
Here are some of the recent studies that show that sex is, indeed, good for your health:
Having Sex Helps You to Look Younger
Dr Weeks, at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, found that those having sex an average of four times per week with a steady partner were perceived to be 7–12 years younger than their actual age. This is because when we engage in sexual activity, the body releases hormones such as oestrogen and testosterone, which help to keep the body rejuvenated and looking young.
You Get Some Exercise
According to a study by The American Journal of Cardiology, sexual activity counts as a moderate workout.
More Sex Could Mean Less Heart Risk
Study at the Massachusetts Male Aging Study says that men who reported sexual activity of once a month or less had an increased risk of cardiovascular disease. Also, Joseph J. Pinzone, MD stated, “One landmark study found that sexual intercourse specifically (not masturbation) lowered systolic blood pressure.”
More Sex Means Less Stress
Researchers at the University of the West of Scotland found that those who have sex at least once a fortnight cope with stressful situations better. This is because engaging in sexual activity releases ‘feel-good’ hormones, such as endorphins and oxytocin.
Sex Keeps Your Pelvic Floor Muscles Healthy
The muscles of the pelvic floor get a workout during sex for both men and women. Like any part of the body, they need regular exercise, and sex is great for this. Weak pelvic floor muscles can lead to urinary incontinence, particularly for women after childbirth, and for both men and women in later life.
Other benefits include being able to sleep better, a strengthened immune system, and even lessening aches and pains in the body. This is because of various hormones being released during sex and orgasm.
Dr Mary Caire, in her TED talk Libido, Hormones and Your Health says that, “Libido is more than your sex drive, it is your life drive.” This also correlates with the Taoist views that it is possible to transform sexual energy into spiritual energy. Thus, having a high libido can help you to have more motivation and appreciation for life in general.
Sexual Energy in Tantra and Taoism
Modern scientific research has confirmed that there are many benefits of lovemaking. However, the ancient philosophies of Tantra and Taoism have recognised this for hundreds of years, and taught a range of practices, including how to harness sexual energy for health and wellbeing.
Tantric principles are similar to Taoism in the sense that the circulation of sexual energy, and the practice of ejaculation control are usually encouraged. Both of those philosophes see sexual energy as having the potential to heal the body. When partners circulate this energy together, it can be very healing and can help to increase the levels of intimacy that can be felt. You can read more about tantric sex for couples on Tantralize’s blog. Practitioners can help clients to learn both solo techniques, and techniques for practicing with a partner, for using sex as a healing force for body, mind and spirit.
Tantric Massage Therapy
Tantric massage therapy can help clients to overcome any conditions that may be preventing them from getting the full benefits of being sexually active. These may include dyspareunia, a general term for any kind of sexual dysfunctions or pain experienced before, during, or after sex. It can also help support issues around erectile dysfunction or the inability to have orgasms. Many of my clients come for sessions because they want help with overcoming numbness in the body, releasing stress, and opening up to feeling more pleasure.
Book a Session with a Tantric Massage Practitioner
If you are interested in finding out more about exploring sexual health and tantra with a trained professional, you can visit Tantric Healing Massage section of the Tantralize directory.
You can also explore purely sensual and erotic experiences for wellbeing via the Sensual Massage section.