General sex questions
What will make me sleep better? Being in love or having sex?
If you are wanting to get a good night’s sleep in, then you don’t have to look further than a sexual intercourse session with your partner. Sleeping well after sex is something that is commonly experienced among a number of people as a result of the hormones released during sex or an orgasm, these include oxytocin, serotonin, norepinephrine, vasopressin and prolactin. It is believed that prolactin is the main chemical responsible for inducing post-coital sleep as these hormone levels are at their highest during sleep.
Sexual intercourse is also a form of physical exercise, making participants more fatigued which could also allow for a better night’s sleep.
Have a look at our article on the stages of falling in love to find out just how being in love can actually result in restless sleep as a result of the various hormones released.
Is there a cure for genital herpes?
Genital herpes is a sexually transmitted disease or infection, also known as an STD or STI. The infection can be caused by two different types of viruses called HSV-1 (herpes simplex virus 1) and HSV-2 (herpes simplex virus 2). HSV-1 typically causes oral herpes which usually manifest in the form of fever blisters or cold sores. The majority of those with oral herpes may have been infected when they were children or young adults, coming into contact with saliva through forms of contact such as non-sexual kissing. However, oral herpes may spread from one’s mouth to a partner’s genitals during oral sex. HSV-2, on the other hand, is a sexually transmitted infection that results in genital herpes.
Herpes is a lifelong infection that does not have a cure, however, some medications may help to prevent infection or lessen the symptoms associated with it. Some drugs may also decrease your chances of spreading the infection to your partner.
How do I get rid of genital warts?
Genital warts are the result of an infection with a certain strain of human papillomavirus, also known as HPV. An HPV infection is the most commonly seen STI/STD (sexually transmitted infection/disease). While the infection can cause genital warts in some instances, it does not always result in visible symptoms such as these.
Should you suffer from genital warts caused by HPV, unfortunately, there is currently no treatment available that can completely eradicate the infection. The only form of approved treatment is to remove the warts or lesions through the use of prescriptions medications such as podofilox (Condylox), which is a gel applied to the lesions on a regular basis. Other forms of genital wart removal include cryotherapy, this involves freezing off the warts through the use of liquid nitrogen, laser surgery or surgical removal.
Doctors generally advise against the use of home-remedies such as apple cider vinegar to remove warts as this can result in burns to the skin of the genital region. It is also important to note that most over-the-counter drugs are designed for the treatment of warts located on the hands or other body parts and are not recommended for use on sensitive skin.
If you think you may have genital warts, then abstain from sexual intercourse and make an appointment to see your doctor.
Is ‘the clap’ an STD?
The clap is also known as Gonorrhoea, this is a bacterial infection transmitted through sexual contact. There are a number of different theories surrounding where the term ‘the clap’ came from and why this is commonly used as a euphemism for Gonorrhoea. One of these is that it is derived from the French word ‘clapier’ which refers to a brothel (where these infections were usually picked up in the past).
Men suffering from this infection will experience a form of yellow discharge from their penises, accompanied by burning and itching. Women do not typically have any symptoms, however, when they do present themselves, they may include yellow vaginal discharge, swelling and redness of the vulva and frequent urination.
How old do I have to be to buy condoms?
There is generally no age restriction when it comes to buying condoms and they can often be obtained free of charge from family planning and health clinics in most countries.
Does having sex lower my stress levels?
PVI (penile-vaginal intercourse) has been associated with improved physiological and psychological functioning. According to a study8 that examined the relationship between sexual behavioural patterns and blood pressure in relation to stress, PVI may improve one’s reaction to stress.
The study examined 22 men and 24 women who used daily diary entries to record their penetrative sex, masturbation and non-penetrative sexual activities. The participants underwent stress tests which included vocal arithmetic and public speaking, those who had experienced no PVI were recorded to have the highest blood pressure reactivity.
Those who reported penile-vaginal intercourse with no other forms of sexual activity had a better response to stress in showing results of less reactivity and/or lowered baseline levels in blood pressure.
The study concluded that the reactivity of blood pressure to stressors such as verbal arithmetic and public speaking was better for those who had recently experienced PVI compared to those who had not experienced sexual activity or other forms of sexual activity. What all of this means is that sex, according to this study, has a calming effect that does indeed improve your reaction to stress.
Can sex boost my immune system?
Researchers suggest that there may be a link between your sex life and the strength of your immune system9. A study conducted in Pennsylvania examined 112 university students who reported on the frequency of their individual sexual encounters, these students were then grouped into four different categories according to their sexual encounters:
- Less than once a week (infrequent)
- Once or twice a week (frequent)
- Three or more times a week (very frequent)
The participants also gave a description of their overall level of sexual satisfaction. Researchers collected samples of saliva from the students and assessed these for the presence of the disease-fighting substance known as IgA (immunoglobin A).
**My Med Memo - Immunoglobin A is a type of antibody found in your blood. Antibodies are forms of proteins that are produced by your immune system in order to fight off antigens such as viruses or bacteria.
Students in the frequent sexual intercourse group had significantly higher IgA levels in comparison to the other groups. This suggests that having sex three or more times a week may boost your immune system.
Am I ever too old to have sex?
A number of people worry that they may be too old to have sex, however, doctors recommend that as long as you and your partner are both in good health physically, then you are not too old for sexual intercourse. However, the process of ageing and suffering from certain health conditions may result in sex becoming difficult the older you get.
This does not mean that your sex life has to go out the window due to a lack of sexual intercourse, physical intimacy is something that may take a number of forms and sometimes as we age, we learn different ways to sexually arouse and please our partners.
The bottom line to this question is as follows: If you think that you may be too old to have sex but are in good health physically, then there should be nothing stopping you from engaging in sexual intercourse with a partner. However, it is advised that you are aware of your physical capabilities and do not push yourself beyond your limits. When in doubt, consult your doctor.
Can I adversely impact my sex life if I masturbate frequently?
If masturbation is taking precedence over an intimate relationship with a partner or if you are using materials such as pornography in order to masturbate, and this upsets your partner or is becoming habit forming, then masturbation may be problematic and have an adverse impact on your sex life.
However, masturbation is generally considered to not be harmful as long as it does not stop you from sexually pleasuring your partner and does not upset your partner. Masturbation is something that is a deeply personal activity in a number of respects and should you feel that it may be the reason why your sex life is lacking passion or affecting sexual intercourse frequency, then you may need to reassess your masturbation habits.
What is the typical duration of sexual intercourse? (I.e. how long does sex last?)
Sometimes having sex can last a mere ten seconds, other times it may go on so long that you end up feeling as though you are melting into a puddle of perspiration. But just how long does sex usually last on average? As it turns out, the sex toy retailer Adam & Eve conducted a survey in 2015 to answer this exact question. Now, this is not to say that this survey was based on exact science, but it does have some interesting findings.
The sex toy company found that the average time spent on foreplay is roughly 20 minutes and actual sexual intercourse only lasts about 7.3 minutes.
A scientific research paper10 found that the majority of people (152 couples were involved in the study) indulged in roughly 11 to 13 minutes of foreplay which was followed by seven to eight minutes of intercourse). Another study11 involving as many as 500 different couples from a number of different countries noted that sexual intercourse typically lasts roughly 5.4 minutes.
However, the duration of sexual intercourse will depend on each individual couple, the positions you use and other varying factors such as the amount of time you have, your moods and whether or not premature ejaculation occurs.
Can antidepressants affect my sex drive?
Antidepressants are known to be responsible for a decreased sex drive or low libido. The specific types of antidepressants with this effect include selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs). These medications stimulate specific serotonin receptors in the brain that result in a decreased amount of norepinephrine and dopamine, this is thought to decrease libido. Depression in itself is also a contributing factor to a loss of sex drive.
Other substances and medications that may have the same adverse effects on sex drive include alcohol, chemotherapy and narcotic pain drugs.
If you are currently taking any of these medications and have noticed a significant decline in your libido and sex life, then speak to your doctor or health care professional about other methods or treatments that may combat this.
8. NCBI. 2006. Blood pressure reactivity to stress is better for people who recently had penile-vaginal intercourse than for people who had other or no sexual activity. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/15961213 [Accessed 27.03.2018]
9. Health Direct. Health benefits of sex and love. Available: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/health-benefits-of-love-and-sex [Accessed 27.03.2018]
10. Research Gate. 2004. Actual and desired duration of foreplay and intercourse: Discordance and misperceptions within heterosexual couples. Available:
11. NCBI. 2005. A multinational population survey of intravaginal ejaculation latency time. Available: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/16422843 [Accessed 10.04.2018]