For 20 years, the Harvard Health Professionals Follow-up Study has
gathered important information about men's health. In 2000, it added
questions about sexuality to its semiannual surveys. According to the Harvard Men's Health Watch, the new data offer insight on how men can maintain a satisfying sex life as they age.
illness and the medications used to treat them account for many of the
sexual problems of older men. Sexual dysfunction was most prevalent in
men with illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, heart disease,
stroke, and even depression. The Harvard Men's Health Watch
points out that one of the striking results of the study was that men
with prostate cancer are 10–15 times more likely to experience sexual
dysfunction than men without the disease—however, these sexual
difficulties typically stem from the treatment rather than the cancer
Even in healthy men, each
aspect of sexual function showed progressive problems with age.
Although libido decreased with age, sexual desire was preserved
substantially better than erectile function. Although testosterone
levels fall just as many men begin to experience sexual dysfunction,
the Harvard Men's Health Watch reports that most men have
plenty of testosterone to spare—levels remain in the normal range in at
least 75% of senior citizens.
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