Is marriage good for your health? Yes, if it's a good marriage.
That may sound like common sense, but researchers at Ohio State University say they're finding that the emotion behind a happy marriage isn't just healthy, it's healing. It triggers hormonal responses that ease stress, and therefore build up the immune system.
The bad news is if you're in a bad relationship, stress can instead prematurely age your immune system and decrease your body's ability to heal wounds, even weakening your response to vaccines.
"The connection then becomes stress, though stress hormones can modify what the immune system does," says Dr. Ronald Glasser, molecular biologist.
"There is some evidence when they looked at couples in a laboratory that there is greater oxytocin released during sex," says Dr. Janice Kiecolt, a clinical psychologist.
Some researchers believe the hormone oxytocin could hold the key, theorizing it helps relieve pain and nurture relationships, but Dr. Glasser says although intimacy may boost your level of oxytocin, it appears it's not the same with just any partner.
"Random hook-ups, if you're looking at them in terms of health, it's hard to say, you know what do they do for you. In some ways, they maybe as much a source of stress as pleasure," says Dr. Kiecolt.