One thing that may continue to be relevant even if other things fail in marriage is sex. It is so important that it sometimes determines the wellness and longevity of some marriages.
As much as it is believed that most men have sex as a form of enjoyment, findings have shown that many women, on the other hand, see sex as more of obligation, thus, it does not take priority in their to-do list.
Even though not all men who have sex for pleasure understand its benefits for their well being and general health, women may not also fare better when it comes to understanding the benefits, thus, sex occupies the back seat in their minds.
A new study by HealthyWomen, a leading health information source for women, has revealed that women who have regular sex will have less wrinkles, more initimacy with their partners and better immune systems. This study however states that only few women recognise the wellness benefits of a healthy sex life.
According to the study, about 51 per cent believe that engaging in sexual activity a few times a week is sexually healthy while just 42 per cent of the women said they believe sexual health is very important to their overall health and about 66 per cent said they only engage in sexual activity once a week or less often.
The survey was conducted online among 1,031 women who reside in the United States, aged 18 and above.
According to the Executive Director of HealthyWomen, Elizabeth Battaglino, many women don’t really understand the physical benefits of an active sex life.
While calling on women to rethink how they view sex and start to prioritise their sexual health and wellness more, she added that beyond the benefit of forming a closer bond with the partner, an active sex life can decrease stress, strengthen pelvic floor muscles, increase immune system function and burn calories.
Commenting on the study, a psychiatrist, Naomi Greenblatt, who specialises in women’s health, agreed with the study, saying while pleasure and intimacy with a partner should be a primary motivation to have sex, the health and wellness benefits are a big bonus.
“There seems to be a growing trend in women having sex for obligation, not enjoyment purposes. Women say there are only 24 hours in the day, and they simply are not prioritising sex,” Greenblatt added.
Most women believe connecting with their partner is the most according to the study, important aspect of their sex life.
A cross section of women who spoke with our correspondent said they did not know that sex has health benefits. While some said they sometimes have sex for enjoyment with their partners, some others said they have it out of the need to satisfy their husbands and boost their intimacy.
“It’s interesting that women rank many factors of their sex life, such as connecting with their partners, as important but aren’t highly satisfied with those factors. Good sex may be the ideal but it is not the reality for many women,” said Battaglino.
A psychologist, Miss Oladele Olaitan, said apart from the child-bearing factor, most women are not aware of the health benefits of sex. She observed a growing trend in women having sex because they see it as a form of duty to their husbands. She added that this could explain why a lot of women reach orgasm during sex.
She said, “From observation, most men place a higher priority on sex than most women do, even though it depends on individuals. It is possible to say that it is a pleasure for men and obligation for the women because women may not be aware of the health benefits of sex.”
The benefits of sex for women are physiological and psychological. It can help reduce stress, give energy, reduce wrinkles, improve intimacy between partners, reduce pain and boost the immune system, amongst other benefits.
A study carried out by the journal of sexual medicine revealed that women who do not have sex more than twice a month fell sick more often than those who have regular orgasm, not just sex.
Another survey carried out by the National Cancer Institute revealed that males who have an average of 21 ejaculations within a month had a 33 per cent lower risk of having prostrate cancer than those who have four to seven ejaculations.
“Sex has benefits for men too. It relieves them of stress and it puts them in a better mood, which can be linked to hormones like endorphins that are released during sex. It also improves the level of intimacy between partners, which improves mental health amongst other things,” Olaitan explained.
A consultant psychologist, Prof. Toba Elegbeleye, said the idea of women having sex as obligation and not enjoyment could not be generalised as it could only apply to some married women. He added that sex might not be a priority for couples who have been married for a long time unlike when they were newly married.
“The major reason for not paying adequate attention to sex and its benefits is because there are other distractions in terms of career, children and other sundry issues. In this age when we have a proliferation of career women, the stress from going and coming back from work militates against sexual interest.
“Good sex has to be totally stress-free and we are having an exponential growth in the number of women becoming career women unlike before, all of which militate against sexual interaction in marital situations,” Elegbeleye added.
He noted that many women do enjoy sex just like men but that it depends on the attention the two partners pay to it and the cultural role women play, which may cause some discrepancies.
“The reason why some women marry are far more than just sex and there are situations whereby women have other considerations for going into marriage even when they do not gallantly enjoy sex, it could be riches, material things and good looks because it is not all women that enjoy sex at the same pedestal as men do.
“There is nothing that keeps youthfulness than staying away from stress as much as possible. Other factors could be access to good food and lifestyle,” he said.
He explained that apart from the reproductive aspect, which is the traditional and cultural usefulness of sex, “it is a form of exercise if engaged in reasonably and without drug, and it fosters a lot of intimacy between couples, particularly when they engage in it reasonably,” he said.