Did you know that there are at least a dozen ways that having sex can help extend your lifespan? From lowering the risk of heart disease to improving hormones, having sex can do all that and more.
And the longer you live, the more time you have to enjoy sexual activity.
So it's no wonder older Canadians report having more sex than ever. That, in turn, indicates that being older doesn't always mean you can no longer enjoy sex.
However, it's also true that there's a correlation between men's sexual health and aging. After all, the male body undergoes numerous physiological changes as it ages. Unfortunately, some of those changes affect the reproductive system.
Fortunately, there are ways to keep the flame in you and the bedroom burning even as you grow older.
In this article, we talk about the following:
Testosterone is one of the chief factors linking men's sexual health and aging. It's the primary male sex hormone produced in the testes. Moreover, it stimulates sexual appetite or drive (AKA libido) and sperm production.
Testosterone production peaks after puberty in men and stays level until 30 to 40 years old. After that, its levels drop by about 1.2% annually.
That decline in men's T levels, in turn, can cause or contribute to sexual health woes.
Since testosterone fuels sexual appetite, having enough of it is key to being in the mood for sex. By contrast, low T levels can cause a decrease in a man's libido.
Thus, aging can impact the male libido by causing a decline in T levels.
Low testosterone in men may contribute to erectile dysfunction (ED). It's a condition that causes the inability to achieve healthy erections. For example, it can cause the penis to fail to erect or, even if it does, become flaccid after only a few minutes.
As a result, men with ED may find it challenging to engage in sexual activity.
Low T levels may also cause ED by reducing a man's libido. After all, healthy erections require stimulation. So if a man lacks sex drive, he may not achieve a full erection.
Read more: Tips On How To Last Longer In Bed
Another way aging can impair a man's sexual performance is by reducing endurance. In some cases, this has to do with the loss of muscular strength, in which the T hormone also plays a role.
Either way, the less endurance a man has, the quicker it may be for him to feel fatigued. That may then shorten the time he can perform sexually in bed.
Male fertility is a man's natural capacity to impregnate a woman. Factors like semen quantity, sperm count, and motility can, in turn, affect this ability. They can result in a man experiencing male infertility.
Read more: 15 Foods That Increase Sperm Volume
In Canada, an estimated one in six couples experience infertility. In about 30% of cases, the man is the cause.
Aging can cause male fertility problems by triggering a decrease in semen quantity. Indeed, researchers found that semen quantity is at its peak from 30 to 45. By contrast, it's at its lowest after the age of 55.
The same researchers noted how aging affects sperm motility (a sperm's ability to swim). They discovered that these cells swam best before the age of 25. On the other hand, their motility was lowest in men older than 55.
Some prevalent conditions in older men can also affect their sexual health. For instance, some may cause erectile dysfunction, while others may raise a man's risk for ED.
Read more: Erectile Dysfunction In Seniors: Causes And Cures
Specific medications that older men take can also lead to sex drive or erection problems.
As men get older, their prostate gland increases in size. This growth can ultimately result in benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH). Researchers say it's age-dependent and has a prevalence of 5% to 10% in males aged 40 and 80% in men between 70 and 80 years old.
Unfortunately, men with BPH may also experience ED symptoms. Scientists are still trying to figure out the link, but it may be due to how BPH can cause sleeplessness. It may also stem from how having BPH can result in anxiety.
Sleeplessness and anxiety, in turn, can trigger or worsen sexual problems, such as ED.
Read more: The Link Between Anxiety And Sex: How Can It Affect Men With ED?
Cardiovascular disease (CVD) encompasses all kinds of heart and blood vessel problems. These include conditions like coronary heart disease, hypertension, and heart attack.
According to scientists, CVD and ED have the same risk factor profile. So, it's possible that having CVD may lead to ED or vice versa.
Male sexual problems can also arise from the use of high-cholesterol medications. These include drugs like statins and fibrates, which limit cholesterol availability.
The thing is, cholesterol is a building block of hormones, including testosterone. So, having too little cholesterol in the body may impair the production of the T hormone.
Blood pressure drugs can also trigger sexual dysfunctions such as ED and low sex drive. That's because some of them can interfere with blood flow, including the supply to the penis. Others may also reduce T hormone levels and disrupt signals associated with arousal.
Antidepressants are another class of medications that can impair sexual functions. That can stem from how these drugs block the action of hormones associated with sex.
Studies found that sexual activity in older adults can lead to greater enjoyment of life. So that's another link between long life, good health, and sex. That's also a good enough reason to seek treatment for sexual problems.
Fortunately, you don't have to look far and wide for solutions to ED and other sexual dysfunctions.
PDE-5 inhibitors are some of the most common medications doctors prescribe for ED. They work by relaxing the blood vessels, causing them to widen. That widening can then help more blood flow into the penis, helping it become erect.
here are some PDE5 inhibitors in the market, all FDA-approved, with high success rates. Your doctor needs to examine your physical health before considering one of those to prescribe for you. Never take one without having consulted with your doctor first.
Your doctor may suggest therapy if your sexual woes are due to a psychological problem. For example, research shows that it may help with ED that arises from stress or anxiety.
One example is cognitive behavioural therapy (CBT). Its first goal is to identify beliefs and thoughts that might contribute to the problem. These may include worries about not performing in bed or fear of not having an erection itself.
From there, therapists guide patients on changing negative thoughts into positive ones. They may also teach patients techniques for coping with sex-related fears.
Your doctor may prescribe testosterone replacement therapy if you have low T levels. This treatment involves a regular administration of medications containing the T hormone. The method may be via injections, skin patches, or topical gels.
However, TRT may only be effective in aging men with low T levels. On the other hand, it may not help with ED cases stemming from underlying medical conditions. For example, it can't fix ED caused by nerve damage or reduced blood flow.
Another treatment your doctor may prescribe is intracavernosal injection. It contains a drug that may help you get an erection. It works by expanding penile blood vessels.
Surgery may be another option for aging men with refractory ED. However, doctors usually only opt for this once they've exhausted other treatments.
An example of such a surgical procedure is penile implant surgery. It involves placing an implant inside the penis, enabling erections. The device can be inflatable or semi-rigid.
If you suspect you have diabetes or hypertension, the most important thing you should do is to see a doctor. Untreated, they can cause not only sexual dysfunction but other more severe problems. Worse, they can be fatal.
That's enough reason to get a medical check-up if you're not feeling your best, especially as you age. The sooner you do, the sooner your doctor can determine if you have a medical condition. From there, they can prescribe drugs to treat it while also protecting your sexual health.
Sex may not be the same in your older years, but there are approaches you can take to continue enjoying it. For starters, talk to your partner and tell them about the changes you're going through. Their understanding and support may help ease your worries about your sexual performance.
You should also try the tips below for improving sexual performance and health.
Long-term consumption of fatty and high-cholesterol foods can contribute to blood vessel disease and ED. One way they can do so is by covering the artery walls with fatty deposits called plaque. That build-up can then cause a narrowing of the arteries.
As a result, not enough blood may flow into the penis. That can then make achieving an erection more challenging.
So to keep your sexual and overall health optimal, go for a diet full of lean proteins and veggies. Seafood, such as salmon and tuna, also contain omega fats that are good for the circulatory system. Nuts and seeds are also excellent choices, as they have nutrients that help boost blood flow.
Read more: 5 Foods To Promote Penis Health
Engaging in physical activity or exercise may help reduce stress. Feeling less stressed, in turn, may help alleviate some of your bed-related worries.
Being more active may also benefit your sexual health by helping you shed pounds. Remember: Being overweight or having obesity can cause or contribute to sexual dysfunction.
Regular physical activity may also improve your blood flow. The better your blood flow is, the more likely you will get an erection.
Excessive alcohol consumption is a risk factor for erectile dysfunction. That's because it can affect the central nervous system, reducing the penis' sensitivity.
Drinking too much alcohol can also induce dehydration. From there, dehydration can cause a spike in the levels of the hormone angiotensin.
Unfortunately, angiotensin causes a narrowing of the blood vessels. Thus, it can limit blood flow to the penis, leading to ED.
Chronic excessive alcohol consumption can also damage blood vessels. Therefore, it can significantly heighten your risk of developing ED.
So, as much as possible, drink in moderation. If you can, minimize your intake to one standard drink a day.
Smoking tobacco narrows the blood vessels. It also impairs lung functions and, therefore, oxygenation. Both can lead to or worsen erectile dysfunction.
Moreover, researchers found that non-smokers have higher T levels than smokers. So if you smoke, your T levels may go down.
Besides, smoking is a leading cause of cancer and death in Canada. That's why if you can, quit ASAP.
If you're having difficulty quitting smoking, talk to your physician about your options. Your doctor may prescribe medications or advise you to get therapy to help kick the habit.
As you can see, the connection between men's sexual health and aging doesn't always have to be negative. However, you do have to be more careful about your physical and mental health to maintain an active sex life.
So, never underestimate the signs you may experience as you age. See a doctor for advice if you develop any symptoms.