Is Sex Good For Your Skin?

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Last month, I wrote about The Lancer Method, a holistic approach to skin care that encourages a regimented routine as well as a carb-free, sugar-free, and essentially alcohol-free lifestyle. As you may have read, I completely failed this experiment, and, to be frank, I was none the worse for it: Giving up pasta and wine was not something I was (or, let's be real, will ever be) ready for, even if it leaves me with a poreless, glowing, lineless complexion. But, I neglected to mention that I was very okay — actually, delighted — with taking another one of the doctor's orders: Have lots of sex.

"Sex and skin health has been around since Masters and Johnson — for over 50 years. We already know that skin is a highly emotional organ," Harold Lancer, MD, explains over the phone. "In terms of the physical, your skin responds to sex in that it increases blood flow, heart rate, your immune system function, the production of antigen formations, and more." 

In fact, the blood-vessel dilation that happens during sex (or, rather, during most physical activity), allows greater oxygen transport to the skin and other organs. "This results in that after-sex glow," Dr. Lancer says. In other words: "Sex makes you radiant." (Enter Orgasm blush.)

The increase in oxygen leads to more collagen and elastin production, and even more sugar production in the skin, which boosts your levels of hyaluronic acid. "This strengthens the dermal matrix, which gives skin its bounce," Dr. Lancer says. 

In his book Younger, Dr. Lancer also points out that oxytocin, a hormone released during orgasm, may help to promote sleep, which is clearly a cornerstone of good skin. In fact, he calls shut-eye "the ultimate anti-aging technique." Let's add that to the list of reasons to climax more often. (Actually, did you need a list of reasons to climax more often?)
Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
As if that weren't enough, regular sex has been proven to reduce stress, which we all know is a major culprit of common beauty woes, including acne and inflammation. 

The doctor points out, "The emotional component benefiting the skin hasn't been touched upon — 'making love' versus just having sex. What about the hormonal element of being in love? Of having a companion?" He adds: "I just saw a couple yesterday who are in their late 70s, and they've been married for over 50 years. They may not be wrinkle-free, but I see that their skin has a certain radiance, or a luminosity." 

I pause: This is Dr. Harold Lancer I'm talking to — the man who told me to wake up at the crack of dawn to make a grilled chicken breast over a bed of greens with no dressing, forsake dessert, and exercise daily. He's a former military surgeon, for god's sake — not exactly the kind of guy I could have imagined talking to me about love.

The "love causes good skin" hypothesis may not have been proven, per se, but the doctor holds firm in his opinion: "I think being in love is good for your skin. I see it all the time. There's a definite emotional component of skin health."

No word yet on whether loving yourself counts, but I'd like to think this gives making time for someone special on Valentine's Day extra meaning. (And, by that, I mean prettier skin.) Should you not be in love, look on the bright side: Great sex is an awesome backup plan.

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