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Does Frequent Sex Make You Smarter?

Does Frequent Sex Make You Smarter?

As the trailer for Genius, the TV docudrama about the life of Albert Einstein, makes clear, Einstein was many things, but monogamous was not one of them. His marriages and affairs were well-documented, by him, in his letters to his various wives and mistresses.

So, did all that sex make him smarter? According to researchers at Coventry University and the University of Oxford in the UK, the answer may be a resounding “yes,” especially in his later years. Turns out, say the scientists, the brain-boosting powers of canoodling are particularly potent for older adults.

The researchers had 73 participants ages 50 to 83 answer a series of questions about their sexual health and then take a series of tests that assessed their intelligence. What they found was the more frequent—defined as weekly—sexual activity the person had (sexual activity was defined as intercourse, masturbation, and petting), the higher they scored on cognitive function tests for verbal fluency and visual-spatial ability. They also had better cardiovascular health.

The theory is that sexual activity enhances dopamine secretion, which is linked to improved working memory and executive function in older adults. We’re sure that physical activity and energetic heart-pumping had something to do with having a sharper brain, too.

So, whether older people who have frequent sex get smarter or smarter seniors have more frequent sex, it doesn’t really matter. (The researchers couldn’t say there was a definite cause and effect.) The two seem to be linked and that’s enough to establish relativity.

Medically reviewed in January 2020.

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