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Men's Sexual Health Archive

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Prostate cancer and your sex life

Updated January 1, 2020

Undergoing treatment and managing the condition can lower libido and lead to erectile dysfunction.

Considerable emotional and mental processing comes with a prostate cancer diagnosis. "Prostate cancer strikes a personal part of a man's body, and for most, it is a glaring sign of aging and a reminder they are not as young as before," says Dr. Mark Pomerantz, an oncologist with Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute.

Then there is the stressful decision about treatment. Yet many men don't realize how much their choice may influence their sex life.

Eating more nuts may improve sexual function

Updated November 1, 2019

In the journals

Need a sexual boost? Eat more nuts. A recent study found that men who added 60 grams — about 1/2 cup — of nuts to their daily diet improved several aspects of their sexual life. The results were published online June 19, 2019, by the journal Nutrients.

Researchers asked 83 healthy men to follow either a traditional Western-style diet without nuts, or a Western-style diet that also included 60 grams (about 360 calories) of a nut mixture made from almonds, hazelnuts, and walnuts every day. A questionnaire assessed their current sexual function.

Straight talk about your new sex life

Updated October 1, 2019

Communication between you and your partner can help create a happier and healthier love life.

You had your first sex talk when you were young, but now that you're older, it's time for another one.

"Men and women go through all kinds of physical and emotional changes as they age that can affect their sex life as well as their relationship," says Dr. Sharon Bober, director of the Sexual Health Program at Harvard-affiliated Dana-Farber Cancer Institute. "These changes sometimes feel embarrassing or are difficult to talk about. But communicating about your changes — and your partner's — can help couples find solutions and common ground, as they enter this new and potentially exciting phase of their sex lives."

Improving your self-esteem can improve your sex life

Updated May 20, 2019

Gravity is not kind to your body as you age. Nor are childbirth, an unhealthy diet, lack of exercise, and the hormone declines that lead to muscle loss, loose skin, and thinning hair. Worry about having your partner see your sagging skin or generous waistline can discourage you from having sex, or you may demand that sex take place only under the covers, with the lights out. Needless to say, these conditions don't leave much room for a sense of closeness or inspired lovemaking. Often, a preoccupation with your appearance while making love will prevent you from initiating or responding to sexual advances.

A negative self-image isn't always rooted in your appearance. Career setbacks or other disappointments can lead to feelings of failure and depression, both of which sap desire. For men, episodes of impotence can undercut confidence in their masculinity.

Tips for talking to your doctor about ED

Updated December 20, 2020

If you've been having difficulty getting or sustaining erections, talk about it with your doctor. Such a conversation is never easy, but thanks in part to greater publicity about this problem and its treatment, many obstacles have been toppled.

Be prepared to provide your doctor with detailed information. This is not simply a matter of walking into the doctor's office, emerging with a prescription, and regaining your erections. Your doctor will try to determine the cause of your ED in order to recommend an effective treatment.

Sex hormones and your heart

Updated May 1, 2019

Here's the latest thinking about how estrogen or testosterone therapy may affect cardiovascular risk.

The two main sex hormones — estrogen and testosterone — have wide-ranging effects in the body. Produced primarily by the ovaries (estrogen) and testes (testosterone), these hormones affect not just your sexual function but also your bones, brain, and blood vessels, for example.

As people age, the natural decline in sex hormone levels sometimes causes undesirable symptoms, such as hot flashes or a flagging sex drive. Doctors can prescribe pills, patches, gels, and creams containing estrogen or testosterone to ease those symptoms. But are these products safe for your heart?

Can blood pressure medications interfere with my sex drive?

Updated May 1, 2019

On call

Q. I know that erectile dysfunction can be a common side effect of blood pressure medications, but can they also lower my sex drive?

A. Sexual issues are a side effect of many medications, including ones prescribed to lower blood pressure. You're correct that erectile dysfunction (ED) is mentioned most frequently. But blood pressure medicines also can decrease sexual drive or make it more difficult to reach orgasm.

The buzz about caffeine and health

Updated April 1, 2019

What the latest science says about caffeine's influence on your heart, memory, sex life, and exercise performance.

Americans are jolted with caffeine. On average, about 80% of adults take some form of caffeine every day, according to the FDA, usually from coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks.

But does all that caffeine have any effect on your health — either good or bad? "While caffeine can give you a temporary mental and physical boost, its impact depends on how much you consume and the source," says Dr. Stephen Juraschek, an internal medicine specialist at Harvard-affiliated Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center.

5 things that can scuttle good sex

Updated October 10, 2019

"The brain is the body's most important sex organ." This well-known phrase bears more than a little truth. Functional sex organs, appropriate hormone levels, and the ability to become sexually aroused alone don't guarantee good sex. Other factors — brain factors — can get in the way.

Relationship issues

Tension and emotional distance can undermine a couple's sex life. Conflicts having nothing to do with sex, like finances or child-raising issues, can be at the root of a sexual problem. It works the other way, too: a sexual issue can strain a couple's ability to get along.

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