Men's Sexual Health

Sex is an important part of life. For many men, thinking about sex starts early, often before puberty, and lasts until their final days on earth.

On one level, sex is just another hormone-driven bodily function designed to perpetuate the species. On another, it's a pleasurable activity. It's also an activity that can help cement the bonds between two people.

Sexual health refers to a state of well-being that lets a man fully participate in and enjoy sexual activity. A range of physical, psychological, interpersonal, and social factors influence a man's sexual health.

Optimal male sexual health includes sexual desire (libido) and the ability to get and sustain an erection (erectile function). Although physiology can affect both the desire for sex and the ability to have sex, mental health and emotional factors also play important roles.

Male sexual health isn't merely the absence of disease. Erectile dysfunction (ED) is the inability to get an erection or to maintain it long enough for satisfying sexual activity. Many things can cause ED, including stress, depression, relationship issues, abnormally low testosterone, damage from urological surgery, and even cholesterol-clogged arteries. In fact, it is often an early warning sign for heart disease. ED can be treated with pills, injections into the penis, or devices.  Men can also experience difficulties related to ejaculation, including premature ejaculation, delayed ejaculation, or the inability to experience orgasm upon ejaculation (anorgasmia).

 

Male sexual health also covers the prevention and treatment of sexually transmitted diseases and the assessment and treatment of male infertility.

Men's Sexual Health Articles

When You Visit Your Doctor - Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH)

Over the past month, how often have you had a sensation of not emptying your bladder completely after you finished urinating? Over the past month, how often have you had to urinate again less than two hours after you finished urinating? Over the past month, how often have you found you stopped and started again several times when you urinated? Over the past month, how often have you found it difficult to postpone urination? Over the past month, how often have you had a weak urinary stream? Over the past month, how often have you had to push or strain to begin urination? Over the past month, how many times did you most typically get up to urinate from the time you went to bed at night until the time you got up in the morning? If you were to spend the rest of your life with your urinary condition just the way it is now, how would you feel about that? Have you had blood in your urine, or urinary tract infections? Have you ever had surgery on your prostate, bladder, or kidneys? Do you have gastrointestinal problems such as diverticulitis or constipation? Do you have diabetes? Does anyone in your family have diabetes? Have you been unusually thirsty or had unintentional weight loss? Have you ever had a stroke or nervous system disease? Have you ever had a back injury or back surgery? What medications are you taking (prescription and over-the-counter)? What do you know about medical and surgical treatment options used in the treatment of benign prostatic enlargement? Do you know the side effects that can occur with medications? Do you know the complications associated with surgery? Do you know how much benefit you can expect from each type of treatment? Do you know the risks of waiting, and doing nothing at all? Abdominal examination Neurological examination Digital rectal examination Genital examination Urinalysis (for glucose, red blood cells, white blood cells, and bacteria) Blood tests (for kidney function and prostate-specific antigen or PSA) Cystoscopy Ultrasound of the bladder after you urinate (post void residual) Ultrasound of the kidneys Pelvic CT scan   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Erectile Dysfunction or Impotence

Do you smoke cigarettes? Have you been screened for other medical problems such as high cholesterol, high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes? Do you exercise regularly? How much? How often? Do you have a neurologic disease or sickle-cell disease? Are you taking any medications (prescription or over-the-counter)? Has your erectile dysfunction worsened since starting any new medications? What effect is your erectile dysfunction having on your relationship? Your self-esteem? How long have you had erectile problems? Do you have erectile problems sometimes or all of the time? Have you ever had any psychologically stressful sexual experiences? Are you less interested in sex (diminished libido)? Are you having difficulty achieving an erection or sustaining it? Do you ever awaken with early morning or nocturnal erections? Do you have pain with erections? Penile bumps or lumps? History of penile trauma? History of pelvic surgery? What are your goals in receiving treatment? What therapies have you tried? Do you know how much benefit you can expect from medical therapies? Do you know the side effects and important drug interactions? Genital examination Rectal examination Pulses in the groin and feet Neurologic examination Blood tests (complete blood count or CBC, glucose, cholesterol panels, thyroid function tests, prolactin level) Blood testosterone level (if libido is decreased) Nocturnal penile tumescence (NPT) Neurologic testing (nerve condition studies) Your doctor may decide to do some vascular tests to establish whether the arteries that supply blood to the penis during erections are narrowed.   More »

When You Visit Your Doctor - Recurrent Urinary Tract Infections

With each of the bladder or urinary tract infections that you have you had, as far back as you can remember: What were the dates of each? Was a urine culture done to prove you had an infection? What treatment was given, and how quickly did you get better? Did you have a fever, pain in your back, or nausea and vomiting? Have you ever been told that you have abnormalities in the way your kidneys or bladder, or the tubes connecting them, are built? Do you frequently develop bladder or urinary tract infections after sexual intercourse? Do you have any chronic medical problems (for example, diabetes or neurological disease)? Are you on any antibiotics to prevent recurrent bladder or urinary tract infections? If so, which one? If you are a woman, what type of contraception do you use (for example, a diaphragm, spermicide)? Abdominal exam Genital exam Back exam for the presence of tenderness in the area of the kidneys Clean-catch urine specimen for urinalysis and culture Ultrasound of the bladder Full pelvic/renal ultrasound Abdominal CT scan Cystourethrogram   More »

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. More »