Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Coitus May Be the Best Sexual Stress Reliever

Magazine article Clinical Psychiatry News

Coitus May Be the Best Sexual Stress Reliever

Article excerpt

SANTA FE, N.M. -- It's been said that sex reduces stress, but all sexual activity is apparently not created equal.

In a laboratory test intended to induce extreme stress, healthy subjects who reported engaging in penile-vaginal intercourse during the previous 2 weeks experienced significantly smaller increases in blood pressure than those who reported masturbating or engaging in noncoital sexual activity, Stuart Brody, Ph.D., said at the annual meeting of the Society for Psychophysiological Research.

The subjects included 24 women and 22 men aged 19-37 years who were in the placebo arm of a larger study of the effects of vitamin C, said Dr. Brody of the University of Tubingen (Germany). They completed daily diaries about their sexual activities for a period of 2 weeks, and then their systolic and diastolic blood pressures were measured before, during, and after participating in the Trier Social Stress Test.

In this test, subjects are given 10 minutes to prepare an oral presentation on their job qualifications. After this preparatory period, they are ushered into a room where two examiners listen critically to the presentation. Subjects are then asked to perform mental calculations.

People who reported engaging only in penile-vaginal intercourse during the previous 14 days experienced significantly lower systolic blood pressure during the most stressful part of this test than did those who engaged in no sexual activity, masturbation, or noncoital intercourse.

The peak systolic blood pressure for the intercourse-only group averaged 130 mm Hg, while the other groups' averages ranged from 143 mm Hg to 165 mm Hg, which Dr. …

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