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Doctors: A healthy sex life leads to a healthy heart

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GILBERT, AZ (CBS5) -

February is the month for lovers; not only are we celebrating Valentine's Day, but it's also heart disease awareness month. You may be asking, what do either of those have to do with one another? The answer is in the bedroom.

When love is in the air, your heart is not only at its happiest, but also its healthiest.

"Ten minutes of intimate touch between a couple can make a significant impact on lowering heart rate, lowering cortisol levels, so it's really protective against stress," said Dr. Debra Wickman. She and Dr. Shannon Chavez of the SHE clinic in Gilbert said the more intimate you get, the more benefits your heart will reap.

"The increased heart rate, circulation, working up a bit of a sweat brings out the toxins," Wickman said.

"If you're having trouble sleeping, it regulates seratonin, and also produces a hormone called oxytocin, known as the love hormone or the cuddle hormone, which increases emotional closeness and bonding with couples," said Chavez.

The doctors said studies have shown men who have sex at least twice a week reduce their risk of a fatal heart attack by 50 percent. But for women, the doctors say quality trumps quantity.

"The enjoyment of sex is more important with increasing overall mortality for women," Wickman said.

But if you don't have a special someone, don't worry - the doctors said you can also reap benefits from social intimacy.

"You can be intimate with your friends, your family, remembering to stay socially connected, going out and having fun," Chavez said.

When we ran into some love birds, we couldn't help to ask - what benefits do you get from good sex?

"You and your partner get closer when you have more of it," one woman told us.

"It definitely gets you in shape," said her boyfriend.

"It seems like whenever you have sex, you feel better afterwards," another man told us.

The SHE clinic is having a workshop on libidos next month. For more information, go to their website, http://shemd.com.

Copyright 2013 CBS 5 (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.

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