As we age, we hope that our sexual experiences will remain enjoyable and please us. However, a recent study from the Journal of Health and Social Behavior has raised questions about whether sex in our senior years benefits our health. The findings suggest that the impact of sexual activity on health may vary between genders.
A study was conducted to determine if there are any risks or benefits to cardiovascular health from sexual activity in older adults. The study analyzed survey responses from 2,204 participants, aged 57-86, who participated in the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. Data was collected twice, with the first set collected in 2005-06 and the second set collected five years later.
The cardiovascular health of all participants was thoroughly assessed through continuous monitoring of their heart rate, blood pressure, and C-reactive protein levels. Elevated C-reactive protein levels were noted, indicating an underlying inflammation that is commonly linked to heart disease.
While it’s commonly believed that having more sex automatically leads to healthier outcomes for both men and women, a recent study has contradicted this idea. The study revealed that older men who engage in sexual activity at least once a week are at nearly twice the risk of experiencing a cardiovascular event within the next five years than those who are sexually inactive. Additionally, men who report having fulfilling sexual experiences with their partner may be at an even greater risk for cardiovascular issues than those who do not have such experiences.
Men and older women are affected differently regarding sex and health. Research shows that women in this age group who have satisfying and pleasurable sex have a lower risk of hypertension, which can reduce their risk of cardiovascular disease later in life. Therefore, having an enjoyable and active sex life can benefit older women’s well-being.
Researchers could not say precisely why older men with more frequent sex were at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. However, they theorized that older men might have to put more effort and exertion into achieving an orgasm – either for emotional or medical reasons – than they did when they were younger. This extra exertion may stress their cardiovascular system, which may already have medical issues. Another speculation is that an older man’s testosterone levels and medications taken to improve sexual function could increase cardiovascular risk.
As to why more sex is beneficial for older women, the feeling of more emotional and social support associated with a close relationship helps reduce stress and anxiety, promoting psychological well-being and protecting them from cardiovascular disease.
To be clear, this is not to say older men should automatically reduce the frequency of their sex life – besides, many men would instead take their chances rather than give up frequent sex. But it does address that doctors should discuss with their older male patients with existing cardiovascular disease the potential risks of having strenuous sex and how to still have sex at the frequency they want without putting undue stress on their body.
Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy. Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911.