Harvard Men's Health Watch

Sexuality and seniority

Americans are living longer than ever. As the population ages, many senior citizens are burdened with chronic illnesses, but many others remain healthy and active. When scientists investigate aging, they have to distinguish between changes caused by disease and those caused by aging itself. It's important research: among other things, it has taught us that men who take care of themselves can prevent many of the illnesses that make less prudent gents old before their time.

Until recently, research on aging has focused mainly on crucial things that go wrong — on heart disease, mental decline, arthritis, prostate woes, and the like. But while big-ticket items are still getting the priority they deserve, researchers are also expanding their horizons to include less critical issues. Sexuality is an important example. Several reports shed light on aging and sexuality, and one of them suggests that sex itself may help prevent sexual dysfunction in older men.

The male sexual response

At any age, sexual activity is an instinctive, automatic part of human behavior. But the biology behind that behavior is quite complex.

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