What Having Sex Does to Your Immune System

December 21st 2016

There's still no cure for the common cold, but research points to an surprisingly effectively measure to prevent it: sex. 

woman-sneezingFlickr/Tina Franklin -

It might sound counterintuitive, but take this 2004 study published in Psychology Reports: Researchers at Wilkes-Barre University surveyed 112 college students about their sexual habits and collected saliva samples to test for immunoglobulin A, an antibody that serves as the first line of defense against the cold virus. They found that students who reported having sex one to two times per week had 30 percent more immunoglobulin A than those who had no sex or had sex one time per week.

man-and-woman-half-naked-in-bedStocksy/Mosuno -

Sex is also associated with reduced stress, according to this 2008 study published in the journal Psychosomatic Medicine. And because stress produces cortisol — a hormone that suppresses the immune system — less stress could mean a lower risk of catching a cold, Vice reports.

Here's one thing to keep in mind, however: It's still not advisable to have sex with someone who actively has a cold.

"Having sexual contact with someone doesn't put you at risk for cold or flu," ABC News reported. But "[b]ecause viruses get transmitted both in the air and through direct contact, a good rule of thumb is to not get too close to people with a cold or the flu to protect yourself from coughs and sneezes."

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