Expensive creams, painful facials and surgical procedures might all be for nought. A new study claims a healthy sex life is the real secret to looking younger.

Exploratory research conducted by Dr. David Weeks, a British consultant clinical psychologist and former head of old age psychology at the Royal Edinburgh Hospital, says regular sex can make both men and women look five to seven years younger, the Telegraph reported earlier this month. Intercourse causes the release of the human growth hormone, which makes skin look more elastic, among other biological reactions.

The 58-year-old has spent 10 years quizzing thousands of men and women of all ages, the Daily Mail notes. Respondents between the ages of 40 and 50 who looked younger reported having sex 50 percent more often, amounting to three times per week as opposed to two.
Weeks says pleasure from the act is a "crucial factor" in preserving youth.

While speaking with the British Psychological Society in May, Weeks explained sex might not only make someone look younger, but it could also prolong one's lifespan.

"[T]he quality of sexual expression maintained in older adults is a predictor of good general health and well-being," he said. "In a Welsh heart disease study from 1997, the mortality risk was 50 per cent lower in the group of men with high orgasmic frequency (twice a week or more) than in the group with low frequency."

“Sexual satisfaction is a major contributor to quality of life, ranking at least as high as spiritual or religious commitment and other morale factors, so more positive attitudes towards mature sex should be vigorously promoted," he added. “Sexuality is not the prerogative of younger people and nor should it be.”

Back in 1999, Weeks found regular sex came in only second to physical and mental activity as factors most important for retaining youth. At the time, he noted loving intercourse with a consistent partner was the most beneficial.

"Casual sex would bring a lot of the detrimental things to staying youthful such as anxiety and the absence of security. Both those things are associated with a loss of youth," he told the BBC.

Benefits relating to sex have long been documented (and celebrated) over the years. Thinking about doing the deed can lead to better critical thinking performance. It can reduce pain, decrease stress and boost immunity. Practitioners of bondage, discipline, sadism and masochism (BDSM) have been shown to have better mental health than those less kinky.