Health Impact of Celibacy

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Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Mon Jan 14, 2013 3:56 pm

People have concepts that celibacy is good for one's health and longevity or bad for one's health and longevity. There are some folk beliefs, for example, that men who do not ejaculate for long periods of time are more prone to prostate problems. From the other perspective, someone on this forum recently stated that monks seem more physically more youthful than their age peers.

As a nurse practitioner, I am curious whether there has been any scientific research comparing the health or longevity of monks and nuns versus their non-celibate peers.

In the case of women's health, once could certainly say that all the potential negative effects of pregnancy and unprotected sex would be avoided by nuns-- and there are countless ways that this would improve women's health, from genital warts and cervical cancer, up to and including the prevention of death in childbirth and from AIDs. On the other hand, here in the U.S., sexually active young women are more likely to visit doctors for annual exams than celibate women, because they need to renew a birth control prescription, and many health problems are incidentally discovered at these exams. I don't know if the same is true in Buddhist countries in Asia.

So, I'm wondering if there have been any studies that you are aware of. I looked on on PubMed a huge search engine of the literature and found only one relevant reference: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17013729 A study showing Thai monks have very high rates of osteoarthritis of the knee, which could be relevant to all meditators who spend a great deal of time sitting cross-legged. On the other hand it could be related to the age, smoking habits or weight of monks in that population.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Seishin » Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:49 pm

My doctor told me that prostate problems aren't very well studied and that so called causes should be taken with a pinch of salt. For some people, any sex causes prostate problems.

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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby ground » Mon Jan 14, 2013 4:56 pm

Yudron wrote:... that men who do not ejaculate for long periods of time are more prone to prostate problems.

There is no study providing evidence but there are studies evidencing a high correlation between the consumption of dairy products, especially milk, and incidences of prostate cancer. :sage:
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Rakshasa » Mon Jan 14, 2013 7:46 pm

Celibacy is the solution of almost all the problems in this world. Having flu due to weak immunity? Try celibacy. Suffering from mental trauma, depression or low self confidence? Try celibacy. Becoming aggressive,perceiving women as sexual objects, etc? Try celibacy. Fat? Try celibacy. Wife or girlfriend is losing interest in you? Try celibacy. Since sexual desire is the root of all desires, and therefore the root of all suffering. Eliminating sexual desire is therefore a solution to all the problems in this world...at least most of them.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Mon Jan 14, 2013 8:01 pm

Rakshasa wrote:Celibacy is the solution of almost all the problems in this world. Having flu due to weak immunity? Try celibacy. Suffering from mental trauma, depression or low self confidence? Try celibacy. Becoming aggressive,perceiving women as sexual objects, etc? Try celibacy. Fat? Try celibacy. Wife or girlfriend is losing interest in you? Try celibacy. Since sexual desire is the root of all desires, and therefore the root of all suffering. Eliminating sexual desire is therefore a solution to all the problems in this world...at least most of them.


I'm quite sure celibacy increased my girth.

Here's some other positive health effects of sex from an M.D.:

http://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/ ... its-of-sex
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby zamotcr » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:01 pm

Rakshasa wrote:Celibacy is the solution of almost all the problems in this world. Having flu due to weak immunity? Try celibacy. Suffering from mental trauma, depression or low self confidence? Try celibacy. Becoming aggressive,perceiving women as sexual objects, etc? Try celibacy. Fat? Try celibacy. Wife or girlfriend is losing interest in you? Try celibacy. Since sexual desire is the root of all desires, and therefore the root of all suffering. Eliminating sexual desire is therefore a solution to all the problems in this world...at least most of them.


Sources?

A lot of modern pseudo-scientific-esoterical groups claims this. But science is forgotten here.

I don't know, but I like sex, I'm not a monk, I can enjoy, completely a natural thing.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby tomamundsen » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:15 pm

Rakshasa wrote:Celibacy is the solution of almost all the problems in this world. Having flu due to weak immunity? Try celibacy. Suffering from mental trauma, depression or low self confidence? Try celibacy. Becoming aggressive,perceiving women as sexual objects, etc? Try celibacy. Fat? Try celibacy. Wife or girlfriend is losing interest in you? Try celibacy. Since sexual desire is the root of all desires, and therefore the root of all suffering. Eliminating sexual desire is therefore a solution to all the problems in this world...at least most of them.

I could see how someone would make the exact opposite arguments :P
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby oushi » Mon Jan 14, 2013 9:34 pm

If human birth is so precious, why should we not reproduce? More kids, more opportunities for buddhahood!
What if suddenly entire population becomes "saint" and stops reproducing. It would be 30-50 years of increased suffering (economy would fall), and then end of humanity. Or maybe only chosen ones can go for it (celibacy)?
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Mon Jan 14, 2013 10:16 pm

I think for the layperson it's really pretty simple...find a sane path of sexual behavior that is as free of clinging as is possible.

Hard to deny that anything which reduces clinging wouldn't be beneficial to Dharma, then again people cling to some VERY different things. I've met alot of people in my life who cling to celibacy, sometimes because they don't even have an opportunity to be otherwise, to such a degree that they judge the lack of it in others as something akin to Christian "sin". It's possible to become so obsessed with purity that you stain yourself in the process, and it's possible to be so liberated that you are lost in your desire...

Are far as a basic "western" view of mental and physical health, as far as I know barring things like STD's an active, healthy sex life is generally considered good. I have seen a few studies on the health merits of sex and they are what you'd expect - oxytocin and other hormones increase (I think that's the main hormone you get from human touch), endorphin rush, mild cardio stimulation, then a general sense of reduced stress such as what you would get witha small amount of moderate exercise. Neither really good nor really bad.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby greentara » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:25 pm

Oushi, "What if suddenly entire population becomes "saint" and stops reproducing!"....... Well pigs might fly!
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby oushi » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:30 pm

greentara wrote:Oushi, "What if suddenly entire population becomes "saint" and stops reproducing!"....... Well pigs might fly!

That would be horrible :tantrum:
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Knotty Veneer » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:38 pm

oushi wrote:If human birth is so precious, why should we not reproduce? More kids, more opportunities for buddhahood!


Sounds like a Buddhist argument against contraception - yikes!

oushi wrote:What if suddenly entire population becomes "saint" and stops reproducing. It would be 30-50 years of increased suffering (economy would fall), and then end of humanity. Or maybe only chosen ones can go for it (celibacy)?


I believe fooling around is still a popular pastime among today's youth so I doubt that is going to happen anytime soon.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Rakshasa » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:02 pm

zamotcr wrote:
Rakshasa wrote:Celibacy is the solution of almost all the problems in this world. Having flu due to weak immunity? Try celibacy. Suffering from mental trauma, depression or low self confidence? Try celibacy. Becoming aggressive,perceiving women as sexual objects, etc? Try celibacy. Fat? Try celibacy. Wife or girlfriend is losing interest in you? Try celibacy. Since sexual desire is the root of all desires, and therefore the root of all suffering. Eliminating sexual desire is therefore a solution to all the problems in this world...at least most of them.


Sources?

A lot of modern pseudo-scientific-esoterical groups claims this. But science is forgotten here.

I don't know, but I like sex, I'm not a monk, I can enjoy, completely a natural thing.



I am speaking from experience. Actually I practice Chinese martial arts and when one practices for a long time a certain quality emerges in one's strike that is called "Fajin" and is characterized by a certain kind of vibration at the end of every strike along with heaviness of the limbs (difficult to explain). When I first attained this level I was quite happy, but it vanished again. I continued practice for some time (weeks to months) and this quality returned again. It happened for a few times more. It was only later I realized that this event of losing such ability coincided with my having sex prior to losing it. It was then that I realized, experientially, the truth in the Chinese Buddhist/Daoist saying that essence (Jing) is conserved on the kidneys during abstention and this essence is lost during sex.

Also, the times when I have lived in celibacy have been for me, in general, happier and more energetic than other times. The old human's sayings about becoming weaker due to sex and become more vital due to celibacy, which was dismissed in modern times by Scientists, is in fact true.

Buddhist teachers like Ven. Hsuan Hua openly claim that celibacy makes human beings immune to main illnesses and even influence of spirits. I firmly believe in that. I am not imposing this believe onto you or others, but you can also verify it through your own experience.


EDIT. One of my main reasons for trying out celibacy was in fact to remove the conditioning of adults that they gain from their early puberty onwards about the perception of women (opposite sex). When we are in the late teens, we do not perceive women/girls as sexual objects, but the enormous amount of influences like porn, excessive sex, etc conditions our innocent minds to perceive women as sexual objects. I wanted to erase this conditioning and it worked magically through celibacy. Although it is very difficult but when it comes to sex I would always want to have the same mindset towards it that I had in my teens - when I did not look at girls merely sexually but more aesthetically. But maintaining it is not easy from my experience.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby oushi » Tue Jan 15, 2013 2:10 pm

Knotty Veneer wrote:
oushi wrote:If human birth is so precious, why should we not reproduce? More kids, more opportunities for buddhahood!


Sounds like a Buddhist argument against contraception - yikes!

oushi wrote:What if suddenly entire population becomes "saint" and stops reproducing. It would be 30-50 years of increased suffering (economy would fall), and then end of humanity. Or maybe only chosen ones can go for it (celibacy)?


I believe fooling around is still a popular pastime among today's youth so I doubt that is going to happen anytime soon.

We are talking about theoretical ideas here, and I like to exaggerate the outcomes of applying them in life, to see what we end up with. If the result is insane, so is the idea. :smile:
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby zamotcr » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:31 pm

Rakshasa wrote:I am speaking from experience. Actually I practice Chinese martial arts and when one practices for a long time a certain quality emerges in one's strike that is called "Fajin" and is characterized by a certain kind of vibration at the end of every strike along with heaviness of the limbs (difficult to explain). When I first attained this level I was quite happy, but it vanished again. I continued practice for some time (weeks to months) and this quality returned again. It happened for a few times more. It was only later I realized that this event of losing such ability coincided with my having sex prior to losing it. It was then that I realized, experientially, the truth in the Chinese Buddhist/Daoist saying that essence (Jing) is conserved on the kidneys during abstention and this essence is lost during sex.

Also, the times when I have lived in celibacy have been for me, in general, happier and more energetic than other times. The old human's sayings about becoming weaker due to sex and become more vital due to celibacy, which was dismissed in modern times by Scientists, is in fact true.

Buddhist teachers like Ven. Hsuan Hua openly claim that celibacy makes human beings immune to main illnesses and even influence of spirits. I firmly believe in that. I am not imposing this believe onto you or others, but you can also verify it through your own experience.


EDIT. One of my main reasons for trying out celibacy was in fact to remove the conditioning of adults that they gain from their early puberty onwards about the perception of women (opposite sex). When we are in the late teens, we do not perceive women/girls as sexual objects, but the enormous amount of influences like porn, excessive sex, etc conditions our innocent minds to perceive women as sexual objects. I wanted to erase this conditioning and it worked magically through celibacy. Although it is very difficult but when it comes to sex I would always want to have the same mindset towards it that I had in my teens - when I did not look at girls merely sexually but more aesthetically. But maintaining it is not easy from my experience.


Well, if it make you feel better, keep doing it. But what works for you, not necessarily works for others.

Different from you, sex make me feel better and happier :rolling:
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:22 am

I do want to inject here that monks get stress relief from meditation, therefore the stress relief provided by the hormonal shift from sex is not necessary.

As someone who is dating now after years of celibacy while practicing intensively, I would personally say my attitude is completely different than before. I'm coming from a place of being relaxed and happy most of the time, so I do not feel I need love or sex to get to some new emotional state.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby ground » Wed Jan 16, 2013 5:14 am

Yudron wrote:...I do not feel I need love or sex to get to some new emotional state.

That is what you share with most non-celibates. Or do they think "I need sex to get to a new emotional state."? Certainly not. Lust arises or not and in case it arises it is lived out or not. :sage:
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Indrajala » Wed Jan 16, 2013 6:05 am

Rakshasa wrote:I am speaking from experience.


I appreciate that you've shared your experience here.

One thing that I have realized personally is just how much mental autonomy I lack as a result of lust.

Before taking on brahmacaryā commitments, I figured as long as I don't get carried away with sex it's fine, but then after deciding to refrain from sexual acts, thoughts and speech, I realized just how much I am under the influence of sexual desire. There are a lot of subtle reactions that I couldn't control when interacting with women. The impulse to flirt is one example.

After awhile though a lot of it subsides and I feel more in control of myself. I am also all the more aware of my mental afflictions and how deep they go.

I've come to understand why the Buddha insisted time and time again that lust must be abandoned in order for liberation to be possible.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Yudron » Wed Jan 16, 2013 7:41 am

ground wrote:
Yudron wrote:...I do not feel I need love or sex to get to some new emotional state.

That is what you share with most non-celibates. Or do they think "I need sex to get to a new emotional state."? Certainly not. Lust arises or not and in case it arises it is lived out or not. :sage:


The same could be said of someone having a beer--they may not consciously think to themselves "I'm feeling stressed out, I should have an alcoholic beverage to feel more relaxed." They just go to the fridge and grab a beer.
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Re: Health Impact of Celibacy

Postby Konchog1 » Wed Jan 16, 2013 8:31 am

Yudron wrote:
ground wrote:
Yudron wrote:...I do not feel I need love or sex to get to some new emotional state.

That is what you share with most non-celibates. Or do they think "I need sex to get to a new emotional state."? Certainly not. Lust arises or not and in case it arises it is lived out or not. :sage:


The same could be said of someone having a beer--they may not consciously think to themselves "I'm feeling stressed out, I should have an alcoholic beverage to feel more relaxed." They just go to the fridge and grab a beer.
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