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

Sex and the older woman

With many older women enjoying sex and few using condoms, it's not surprising that some are acquiring sexually transmitted infections (STIs). According to the Centers for Disease Control there has been an uptick in other STIs in postmenopausal women. Safe-sex is especially important for postmenopausal women, because they are more vulnerable to STIs than younger women. And STIs in older women may go undetected because they are often without symptoms, and clinicians aren't always tuned in to screening older women. STIs of concern include human papilloma virus (HPV), herpes, trichomoniasis, chlamydia, gonorrhea. HIV/AIDS, hepatitis B and C. and syphilis.  (Locked) More »

Viagra precautions

I am a 64-year-old man with diabetes. I've been having trouble with erections, and my doctor just gave me a prescription for Viagra. He also told me to be careful about using other drugs with Viagra but didn't give me a list. Can you please fill me in? (Locked) More »

Medical memo: Semen quality and survival

How healthy are you, and how does your life expectancy stack up against the average? To answer these questions, your doctor will ask about your smoking, drinking, diet, and exercise. He'll measure your cholesterol, blood pressure, blood sugar, and weight or waist size. And he may ask if you're happy or stressed and if you sleep well. These facts and numbers do count; men who rate well in midlife stay healthier and live longer than gents who score poorly. Still, scientists are always looking for additional measurements that predict survival. And research from Denmark proposes an unlikely candidate: semen quality. More »

Is sex exercise? And is it hard on the heart?

As many men get older, they wonder if sex is a good form of exercise or if it's too strenuous for the heart. These questions may sound like locker room banter, but they are actually quite important — and they now have solid scientific answers. More »

Two-way street between erection problems and heart disease

Trouble getting or keeping an erection can be an early warning sign of heart disease, much as heart disease can signal a man's current or future sexual problems. Instance of either should prompt a conversation with your doctor about the other, as well as lifestyle choices that can improve sexual function and cardiovascular health. (Locked) More »

Marriage and men's health

Statistics on marriage and health show that married men are healthier than unmarried or divorced men, and are also more likely to live longer. However, marital stress has a negative effect on physical and mental health. Marriage positively affects a men's survival rate for specific diseases, including America's leading killers, cardiovascular disease and cancer.  More »

Attitudes about sexuality and aging

Fantasies can help rev up your sex life. Myths, on the other hand, can stop desire dead in its tracks. Such myths aren't the legends from classical history. They're the stories we tell ourselves and each other to support the notion that older people shouldn't, can't, and wouldn't want to have sex. This type of myth, however, bears as little relationship to reality as do the fanciful sagas of ancient gods and goddesses. Here are some examples of the most popular sexual myths and the myth-busting truths. 1. The myth: Only the young are sexually attractive. The culture we live in exalts youth. Turn on the TV or open a magazine and you'll be barraged with images of supple skin, firm flesh, and lustrous locks. But if your mirror is reflecting a different picture these days, you may feel like the party is going on without you. More »

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 »