Originally I was going to write about how unexpressed emotions play into our perception of stress, but I pretty much covered that in Express Yourself! (feel free to check it out if you are interested in how emotions can affect health). Sex is something that is not really talked about very often with regard to health, unless you are having a problem (like vaginal dryness or erectile dysfunction). This post will not be a "how to" lesson on relieving stress with sex (sorry). Sex can be either a positive or negative thing for the body in terms of its energy.
Like exercise (see Save yourself from Stress part 2--Exercise), it is possible to overdo it. Sex, and reproduction in general, is connected to the energy of the Kidneys. We are all born with a certain amount of Jing, or Essence, which is the foundation of our Kidney energy and our basic life force. The amount of Jing we get is determined by our parents' Jing at our conception (it is inherited, like DNA), but how long our Jing lasts depends on how we live our lives. Have you ever noticed that people age at different rates? Two people can be the same age but look years or even decades apart. That is a visual reflection of Jing. In terms of how it feels and how we use it, burning the candle at both ends or pulling all nighters is much easier in your 20s than when you are 50. You can get through the day much easier on no sleep when you are younger; when you are older you tend to feel the repercussions much more strongly and it takes you much longer to recover. This is also a reflection of the amount of Jing you have: we have more when we are young--it gives us a little extra boost of energy when we need it. We have less when we are older so we don't get quite the same boost. It is like our energy savings account-- it is there for back up when you need it, but you try not to dip into it too often, because if you do it (and you) will become depleted much more quickly.
On the plus side, sex (and love in general) create a surge in Kidney and Heart Qi and encourage general flow of Qi and Blood throughout the body. There is also the sharing or transfer of Qi between you and your partner that encourages heat and warms the body. It can improve mood and reduce stress by inducing relaxation. Used wisely this is good for your health and well being.
Ejaculate and vaginal secretions are a physical manifestation of Jing. The more sex you have, the more you excrete. Supportive behaviors like proper diet, sufficient rest and relaxation, stress reduction, proper exercise can enhance one's ability to hold onto one's Jing. The less you dip into the savings account the longer it will last.
The types of behaviors that drain our Jing: over exercising; excessive use of alcohol, recreational drugs, or some prescription drugs; too much stress with insufficient sleep; long term poor diet with too much caffeine, sugar, chemical additives and/or artificial sweeteners; too much stress in general; too much sex.
So how much is too much?
That varies according to a person's age and how healthfully they live their lives. The key is to check in with how you feel. If after sex you feel exhausted for more than one day, have lower back aching or instability, depression, headaches, hot flashes or night sweats, chances are you are having too much sex (I suppose there are worse problems). You want to make sure you are not draining your Jing unnecessarily, since the more you drain the harder it is to bounce back. Acupuncture and Chinese Herbal therapy can help you recover some or much of your Kidney energy, but once your Jing is gone, it is gone.
The key is to have just the right amount of sex for you. The fun is in finding out what that is for you!