Sex helps chronically stressed moms fend off metabolic disease: study

Stressed moms receive new orders from the love doctor.

A new study has found that sex can help mothers of young children avoid the harmful effects of stress, particularly metabolic disorders. Among mothers of children with autism spectrum disorder, results showed that those who regularly engaged in sexual activity had higher levels of healthy metabolic hormones than sexually inactive mothers.

Long-term stress is hard on the body, increasing the risk of heart disease, diabetes, depression, stroke and obesity. Meanwhile, research has shown that any additional physical activity can help prevent such diseases.

“Given the deleterious consequences that chronic stress can have on metabolic health, it is crucial to explore protective factors. As a relationship researcher, I am particularly interested in how various aspects of our relationship experiences might play such a protective role,” said study author Yoobin Park, a postdoctoral researcher at the University of California at San Francisco.

She continued: “Sexual activity has emerged as a promising candidate due to its anti-stress effects and its positive impact on processes such as sleep, which can suffer from stress and in turn cause metabolic problems. To our knowledge, no previous work has examined whether sexual activity can buffer the biological effects of stress. This research was therefore exploratory in nature and aimed to fill this gap.

The researchers asked 183 women aged 20 to 50, with at least one child aged 2 to 16, to participate in regular assessments of the Perceived Stress Scale over two years. During each assessment period, participants would be asked to complete 7-day diary questionnaires and clinical visits to collect health data, including blood samples on key metabolic indicators including l insulin, insulin resistance, leptin and ghrelin.

“In a nutshell, our results suggest that the detrimental effects of stress on metabolic health were significantly reduced in those who were sexually active,” study author Yoobin Park told PsyPost. Getty Images/iStockphoto

The latter two assessments were the most important for the research because they were the only ones that focused on questions about sex, asking mothers each day whether they had engaged in sexual activity the previous night, while also measuring related variables such as overall relationship satisfaction. and daily physical activity levels. Those who reported having sex at least once during the 1-week assessment period were considered sexually active. Once the data was collected, a total of 101 women were found to be either sexually active or inactive.

Mothers who were caring for at least one child with ASD were grouped into the “highly stressed” group, with all other mothers classified as “lowly stressed.”

Overall, high-stress mothers were more likely to have higher levels of insulin and insulin resistance and lower levels of ghrelin compared to low-stress mothers – except when sexual activity was a postman. Compared to the low-stress group, sexually inactive and high-stress mothers fared significantly worse than those who had more sex. In contrast, all sexually active mothers had similar metabolic profiles regardless of stress group.

“In a nutshell, our results suggest that the detrimental effects of stress on metabolic health were significantly reduced in those who were sexually active,” said Park, who told PsyPost that these benefits were helpful despite exercise levels and the relationship satisfaction of the participants. “So overall, although we need more research to understand the precise mechanisms by which sexual activity protects against the detrimental effects of stress on metabolic health, our results suggest that the benefits of being sexually active go beyond just being generally active or being in a state of happiness. relationship.”

The researchers hope their findings can contribute to a better understanding of the health benefits of sex. Park said: “We need more research in this area to better understand the mechanisms underlying the benefits of sex and to understand the generalizability of its protective effects. »

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Gn Health

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