Active lifestyle free of alcohol,
tobacco may promote sexual health in men
Many men fear impotence as they get older. They think they'll either
have to cut their sex lives short or rely on sexual performance-enhancing
drugs such as Viagra. But a new study suggests that certain lifestyle
choices might stop the problem before it starts.
The research was part of the Health Professionals Follow-up Study,
a long-term study involving more than 30,000 men. Through a questionnaire
and follow-up examination of medical records, researchers gathered
info rmation on the sexual function, physical activity, smoking and
drinking habits, and health conditions of men older than 50. According
to the data, several characteristics of sexual health - including desire,
orgasm, and overall sexual ability - decrease dramatically every decade
after age 50. Twelve percent of men younger than 59 reported significant
problems with their sexual function, compared to 22% of men ages 60-69
and 30% of men older than 69.
Aside from increasing age, many factors seemed related to sexual health.
Men with other health problems had twice the incidence of erectile dysfunction
as healthy men. In addition, impotence was more common among men who
were obese, smoked, consumed alcohol, or spent a great deal of time watching
television. Meanwhile, men who were physically active (equivalent to
running at least 3 hours a week) had a 30% lower risk of sexual problems.
Future studies may show obesity, smoking, drinking alcohol, and a sedentary
lifestyle can actually cause impotence. For now, though, the results of
this study suggest men may have the power to lower their risk of sexual
dysfunction. The facts of aging are out of our control, but lifestyle choices
are not. Making a change to lead a healthy, active life may prove beneficial
not only to physical and mental health, but to sexual health as well.
October 2003 Update
Back to Previous Page