Sex could be one of the few pleasures in life that is good for you, helping stave off colds, flu, heart attacks and even cancer, say researchers.

Not only does a healthy sex life boost mood, but there is growing evidence to show it boosts your physical well-being, too — from increasing longevity to reducing the risk of erectile dysfunction and even heart attack.

Only last month, researchers at Nottingham University concluded that men who kept up a regular sex life in their 50s were also at lower risk of developing prostate cancer. In fact, the research seems to suggest that men — particularly older men — benefit the most from healthy effects of sex.

Feel-good hormones help explain some of the benefits, but the explanation is not always obvious. But one thing is clear, and this applies to both men and women: you need to be having sex regularly if you don't want to lose the ability.

'Use it or lose it' was the advice given to older men by Finnish scientists recently.

They had followed 1,000 men aged between 55 and 75 for five years and found that those who had sex less than once a week at the start of the study were twice as likely to develop erectile dysfunction as those who had it at least once a week. Those who had sex three or more times a week lowered their risk four-fold.

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