Humans, regardless of the age, are sexual beings. Intimacy, passion, and sexual intercourse are important parts of our lives, and they’re essential for a healthy and happy relationship. While most people assume sexual activity stops when you get older, that’s not correct. But, if you’re an older man in the relationship and have sex frequently, you might be putting your heart health into jeopardy, according to the latest study.
Why does Sex Affect Heart Health?
The first large-scale study of how sex affects heart health in elderly was conducted by Hui Liu and a team of scientists at the Michigan State University. They analyzed survey data from 2204 people in the National Social Life, Health and Aging project. All participants were older adults aged between 57 and 85 when scientists collected first sets of data. Then, they collected another set five years later.
For the purpose of the research, scientists measured cardiovascular risk as hypertension, rapid heart rate, and general cardiovascular events such as stroke, heart failure, and heart attack.
Older men are more likely to report sexual activity, having sex more frequently, and finding sex more enjoyable than women, according to findings published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior. Data analysis showed that high sex frequency is strongly linked to later risk of cardiovascular events for men, but not for women.
On the other hand, good sexual quality has a tremendous potential to protect women from cardiovascular diseases, while it doesn’t have protective properties when it comes to men. The study showed no evidence that poor cardiovascular health interfered with sexuality in both genders.
The author of the study explained that having sex once (or more times) a week puts older men at risk of poor cardiovascular health that is almost two times higher than in older men who are sexually inactive. Additionally, older men who found sex incredibly satisfying had a greater risk of cardiovascular events compared to men who didn’t feel that way.
Why does this happen?
Scientists believe it’s due to added stress that comes with intimacy and sexual performance in later stages of life. Older men experience various sex-related problems, and they are unable to perform like they did when they were younger. They may try to compensate for performance issues and, thereby, subject themselves to a higher degree of exhaustion. In turn, they create more stress on their cardiovascular system to reach orgasm.
That’s not all, low testosterone levels and intake of medications that improve sexual functioning also play a role. Although evidence on the functionality of these medications is limited and various studies confirmed that supplements aren’t quite effective, it’s also possible that they interfere with cardiovascular health. Since men are more likely than women to take medications or vitamins for sexual performance, they have a higher risk of cardiovascular events.
Surprisingly, women who found sex satisfying or pleasurable had a lower risk of hypertension five years later, than female participants who didn’t find the intercourse satisfying.
Why is Sex Better for Older Women, but not for Men?
After reading these findings, it’s only logical to ask yourself why sex in later life is more beneficial for women than it is for men. Based on previous findings, the happy and healthy relationship is a significant source of emotional and social support, which reduces stress and promotes psychological well-being and cardiovascular health. Getting this emotional and social support is more important for women than it is for men.
It’s because men are more likely to receive that support, regardless of the quality of the relationship. On the other hand, only women who are in a deep, strong, and healthy relationship may acquire these benefits from their partner. That’s why they find sex more enjoyable, and since stress levels are decreased with emotional support, their cardiovascular health improves as well.
Older men shouldn’t have sex at all?
Sex has a broad range of well-documented benefits, and these findings don’t suggest that older men should stop having sex. Moderate amounts of sex have a potential to promote health in older men which is why healthcare providers should talk to their older male patients about potential risks that come with a high frequency of sex.
It’s also recommended that physicians order some screenings to check different factors of cardiovascular health in men who have sex too often.
Instead, older men should have sex moderately and consult their doctor about the frequency of sexual intercourse with their partner. Cardiovascular health also needs physical activity, healthy diet, and overall healthy lifestyle.
Although sex is good for health, too much of it elevates cardiovascular health risks in older men. Since sex is an important aspect of the relationship, you should consult your doctor about the frequency of sex and make sure you’re following a healthy lifestyle for optimal heart health.