The health benefits of orgasms aren't all that well known, in large part because big, controlled studies haven't been done (researchers aren't usually willing to ask subjects to masturbate while being monitored). For most of the existing studies, scientists either ask participants to report their orgasmic history – not always the most dependable data – or find subjects willing to orgasm in a controlled lab environment. Because of this, much of the information that's out there about what happens to our bodies during and after sex is still fairly preliminary.
But what data we do have strongly suggests that orgasm are very good for us. "The bottom line is that orgasms are probably better for your health than they are worse for your health," says Barry R. Komisaruk, a professor of psychology at Rutgers University who specializes in behavioral neuroscience and sexual health. Here's a close look at the orgasm – and how it impacts our health.
Post-Orgasmic Illness Syndrome
For some, there is a big downside to orgasm. Post-orgasmic illness syndrome (POIS) is a rare disorder where people feel ill after orgasm. Symptoms can include intestinal discomfort, headache, and general malaise. "Just having orgasms makes them feel sick for days after and nobody really knows what the mechanism is," says Komisaruk, who has just secured a grant from the National Organization of Rare Diseases to study this affliction. No one knows how common POIS is, but Komisaruk is currently working with a couple dozen men with the symptoms to shed further light on this disorder.
Credit: Getty Images