Having sex at least once a week slows aging in women - even if they do not enjoy being intimate, new research reveals.
Being active between the sheets increases the length of women's telomeres, a study found.
These 'cap' the end of DNA strands, with longer lengths being associated with slower aging, longer lifespans and improved overall health.
Women's telomeres lengthen with regular love making regardless of whether they are sexually satisfied in their relationship, the research adds.
Researchers believe sex may aid aging in women by dampening stress and boosting their immune system.
How the study was carried out
Researchers from the University of California in San Francisco analyzed physical intimacy, as well as partner support or conflict, overall relationship satisfaction and stress in 129 mothers in long-term relationships.
Blood samples were taken from the study's participants to determine their telomere length.
The study was conducted over one week.
Results revealed that women who had sex at least once during the study's one-week duration had significantly longer telomeres.
Relationship satisfaction, stress and partner support or conflict had no impact on telomere length.
The findings were published in the journal Psychoneuroendocrinology.
Telomeres 'cap' the ends of DNA strands. They shorten with age and poor lifestyle habits, such as alcohol abuse, however, being active lengthens them.
Previous studies have linked longer telomeres to reduced aging, improved overall health and a longer lifespan.
Lead author Tomás Cabeza de Baca said: 'Over time, shortened telomeres may contribute to chronic degenerative diseases and premature mortality.
'Sexual intimacy may dampen the effects of stress by down-regulating stress response systems and up-regulating immune response.
'Over time, these patterns of stress function should result in longer telomere length,' PsyPost reported.
The effects of regular sex in men are unclear.