Men's Sexual Health
Definition Sexual health refers to sexual function, reproduction, desire, ability and enjoyment. It involves relevance to and effect on your overall life and health status.
Description “Experts in the field of sexual medicine agree that sexual function can be related to overall health, especially heart health.”
Your sexual health is an integral part of your life. Feelings and experiences of a healthy sexual relationship are important to develop and maintain social and interactive skills, as well as contributing toward a healthy heart and circulation. You can learn how to improve your sexual health for increased libido and better sex.
Factors affecting men's sexual health may include one or many physical, psychological and emotional issues. Health conditions that affect these areas can impact your sexual health as well as your relationships and self-image. If you are not feeling happy with your life, are constantly ill, tired, or suffer from chronic illness or disease you may suffer from decreased libido and it is unlikely that you will be able to fulfil a satisfying and stimulating sexual relationship.
Estrogens and testosterone are the major sex hormones essential in sexual functioning.
Both classes of hormones are present in males and females alike, but in different amounts.
Men generally produce around 6-8 mg of testosterone per day, compared to most women who generally produce around 0.5mg.
Estrogens are also present in both sexes, but of course in larger amounts for women.
Premature aging, illness, certain medications and chronic illness all affect your body's hormonal balance, sometimes causing drastic changes in sexual interest and ability.
More awareness has been gained regarding the importance of sexual health since the World Health Organization (WHO) stated over 25 years ago that "There exist fundamental rights for the individual, including…freedom from organic disorders, diseases and deficiencies that interfere with sexual and reproductive function."
However, even today there are still many obstacles that prevent this from becoming a reality. This is a general lack of understanding of the relationship between your general health and your sexual function and abilities.
Various factors limit your sexual interest and capacity as you age. Heart disease, diabetes, depression, obesity, and digestive, hormonal and nervous system disorders can all seriously lower your abilities and confidence in the sexual arena.
The American Association of Retired Persons has done numerous studies and surveys to find out how non-prevention of such problems in early years has effected lives latterly (in both general health and sexual function and enjoyment).
As well as producing many individual facts and figures, their overall findings can be summarised in one sentence…
"Sexual health is not only an important part, but an essential element of the quality of life of adults over the age of 45." Revelations regarding the effects of prescriptive treatments are also continuously brought to our attention. Preventative measures, general nutritional health, lifestyle and exercise continually prove to be the way ahead to maintain your level of sexual health throughout life.
Statistics Here are some interesting statistics:
Conditions "There's an incredibly important link between a man's health and sexual performance," (Professor Lamm, New York University)
Male sexual function changes constantly through adulthood. At the age of 18 puberty reaches its peak and allows for maximum sexual ability. This continues through your 20s and 30s.
Anywhere from age 40–50+, without adequate nutritional and hormonal maintenance to optimize health, you may experience a reduction in erection times, less forceful ejaculation and longer refractory times. This can worsen from around 60+ where hormones may reduce and physiological responsiveness, arousal and function may lower.
However, although by your 60s the changes noted above may be quite noticeable to you physically, your psychological desire may still be strong. This is because these problems lay more in your overall health status as opposed to any kind of age-related lack of interest.
Loss of libido
Impotence (erectile dysfunction) or ED
Erectile dysfunction is the most common sexual health complaint in men.
Impotence is when you are unable to maintain an erection.
To remain erect your penis must become engorged with blood. Some conditions make this difficult however. Vascular (blood vessel) disease, e.g. Atherosclerosis (where fatty deposits narrow the arteries) may restrict blood flow to the penis, high fat/sugar diets, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity and smoking are all common causes.
This condition affects approximately 30 million men in the United States alone.
As well as Atherosclerosis, other major causative groups include:
Regardless of the medical causes of erectile difficulty, there is also always a psychological effect potentially resulting in anxiety, feelings of inadequacy, depression and lowered self-esteem. All these themselves contribute to male impotence, beginning a vicious circle of problematic function.
In the 1970s researchers for the Journal of the American College of Cardiology surveyed 1,810 men about their risks of heart disease. In 1998 researchers contacted 844 of them who were still alive and asked them about their erectile function. The men who had risk factors for heart disease in the '70s were found much more likely to have erectile dysfunction 25 years later.
The prostate is a walnut-sized gland that sits below the bladder in men that produces fluid that mixes with sperm to form semen. There are a number of disorders that are increasingly common to the prostate:
Prostatitis is an inflammation or swelling of the prostate gland. It usually begins gradually and lingers for more than a couple of weeks. It can be caused by several different conditions and infections and can affect adult men of all ages.
Chronic bacterial prostatitis is where a bacterial infection causes swelling and inflammation.
Chronic non-bacterial prostatitis is where no bacteria are found.
Prostadynia is where symptoms of prostatitis are present, but there is no evidence of prostate infection or inflammation.
This is shown by a sudden infection of the prostate gland, generally by bacteria that get into the prostate by traveling up into the body through the urethra.
5 – 10% of men experience symptoms of chronic prostatitis at some point in their lives.
Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia)
At birth the prostate gland is tiny. When testosterone levels rise during puberty, the prostate grows rapidly, doubling in size by age 20.
When a man reaches his 40s the prostate goes through a second growth spurt.
Statistically, prior to their 59th birthday 1 in 2 men will suffer BPH. This escalates to 9 out of 10 men by age 85.
You can easily avoid becoming one of these statistics if you take simple preventative steps to increase prostate health and strength before symptoms occur. Prostate cancer
Prostate cancer is a group of cancerous cells that mostly begins in the outer part of the prostate. Of all men diagnosed with cancer each year more than ¼ have prostate cancer.
Prostate cancer is one of the deadliest diseases amongst men, now being the most common non-skin cancer in America. In 2005 alone over 232,000 men have been diagnosed with prostate cancer and over 30,000 deaths are estimated as a result of that figure.
The success rate of conventional medicine cures is estimated at only 20 – 30%, with many negative drug side effects (figures from Glaxo SmithKline).
Surgical and procedural failure rates give no more confidence, with damage to the urethral wall in conventional stricture treatments and thermal tissue damage from laser or electrocautery treatments.
Natural prevention on the other hand has shown high results in the avoidance of initial cancer development.
Testicular cancer is the growth of abnormal cells in one or both testicles, also called testes.
The testicles produce testosterone and other male hormones and produce and store sperm.
Once testicular cancer develops it can remain within the testicle, or it can spread to lymph nodes in the abdomen. If undetected testicular cancer eventually can spread to the lungs, brain, liver and elsewhere throughout the body.
Testicular cancer can affect men of any age, but it is most common in men between the ages of 20 and 40.
Premature ejaculation occurs when a man reaches orgasm and ejaculates too quickly and without control. It may occur before or after beginning foreplay or intercourse. Some men experience a lot of personal distress because of this condition.
At some point in life as many as 1 in 5 men experience difficulty with uncontrolled or early ejaculation.
Several factors may contribute to premature ejaculation. Psychological problems, such as stress or depression, and biological factors make men more prone to the problem.
Infertility is the inability to achieve a normal conception. Couples that cannot conceive after three years are very unlikely to ever succeed unless they seek medical assistance. Male infertility is statistically responsible for around 50% of all couples that have difficulty with conception.
Male infertility has a wide variety of causes:
Most infertile men will not have any symptoms.
Loss of sexual desire / libido
Lack of sex drive is more and more common in men. Causes can be either physical or psychological.
Physical causes can include alcohol or drug abuse, anaemia, hyperprolactinaemia (where too much prolactin hormone is produced by the pituitary gland), obesity, some prescription drugs, low testosterone levels or any general systemic disease.
Psychological causes can include depression, stress, overwork or relationship problems.
Causes Causes of sexual problems in men are dependent on the individual problem. Continually growing proof supports the expert evidence that our sexual health is dependent on our overall health and wellness (see above). This starts by having a healthy digestive system upon which to build your immunity, strength, energy, and adequate nutrient intake, upon which all other systems rely.
Diagnosis Your healthcare practitioner will ask you about your medical history and about your sex life. He / she will examine you to look for evidence of underlying medical problems or causes of your condition. He / she will also examine any particular organ or area of the body that may need further investigation.
Blood may be tested along with cholesterol and levels of sexual and other hormones.
You will be asked questions about your symptoms and to thoroughly describe them. Information about medications, your alcohol and caffeine intake and any sexual contacts will likely be taken.
A urine specimen may be requested to check for evidence of infection, along with semen specimens for sperm counts where applicable.
For more serious sexual health conditions the employment of ultrasound, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), computed tomography (CT) scans and x-rays may be requested.
Signs and Symptoms
Problem producing an erection or difficulty maintaining one.
Note: The following symptoms for prostatitis, enlarged prostate and prostate cancer are very similar. Please do not therefore assume that you have prostate cancer simply because you suffer these symptoms. Prostatitis
A weak urine stream
Treatment The only sure way to optimum sexual fitness and longevity is through taking the responsibility to care for the overall health of your body. This means providing it with the nutrients, elements and trace minerals it needs to fight against potential diseases and infections, proper nutrient intake, and to maintain your strength and energy.
Treatments such as prescription medications, may help in the short term, but only suppress the real underlying causes.
Conventional treatments Impotence (erectile dysfunction) or ED
These are taken in pill form up to an hour before sexual activity takes place. They work by inhibiting an enzyme that degrades nitric oxide, thereby increasing the amount of nitric oxide produced in the penis. Nitric oxide stimulates enzymes to produce a chemical that increases blood flow.
The side effects of these drugs include flushing and headache, dyspepsia, nasal congestion, urinary tract infection, abnormal vision, diarrhea, dizziness and possible rash.
These drugs can also interact negatively with other medications, resulting in dangerously low blood pressure.
A drug that causes your blood vessels to widen. This can allow blood to flow more freely in the penis and lead to an erection.
Side effects of this drug can include mild to moderate pain in the penis, blood-filled swelling at the site of injection, discoloration of the penis, tearing of the skin, prolonged erection, upper respiratory infection, low blood pressure, flu symptoms, headache, burning or testicular pain.
NB: None of these drugs stimulate actual desire or libido, which is now considerably low in many older men. Indeed no prescription drugs currently help this growing problem. Premature ejaculation
Side effects of these drugs can include constipation, decreased sexual ability, diarrhea, dizziness, drowsiness, headache, sweating, nausea, trembling or shaking, insomnia, unusual tiredness or weakness and vomiting.
Enlarged prostate (benign prostatic hyperplasia)
Side effects include abnormal ejaculation, back pain, diarrhea, dizziness; headache, stuffy or runny nose, unusual weakness, chest pain, decreased sexual drive, insomnia, fainting, drowsiness and nausea.
Side effects include decreased libido, decreased ejaculation, impotence, breast tenderness and enlargement.
Dactinomycin: An antineoplastic drug used to treat cancer of the testicles, amongst others. It inhibits the growth of cancer cells.
Side effects can include nausea and vomiting, loss of appetite, abdominal pain, diarrhea, difficulty swallowing, thinning or brittle hair, skin infections and irritations.
Bicalutamide: Bicalutamide is a hormone that works by blocking the effects of certain chemicals necessary for cancer cells to survive.
Side effects include constipation, diarrhea, dizziness, headache, decrease in sexual desire, nausea, trouble in sleeping, bloatedness, indigestion, drowsiness, dryness of mouth and flu-like symptoms.
These work by blocking the effect of testosterone in the body.
Common side effects include coughing, fever, runny nose, sneezing, sore throat, tight chest and wheezing, chills, lower back pain, mental depression, tingling or painful muscles, rash and unusual tiredness.
NB: There is actually no successful drug for this condition. Cases generally result in surgery to remove the diseased prostate. It is for this reason that natural preventative measures are really the only reliable answer. Male infertility Menotropins: A mixture of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In males they are used to stimulate the production of sperm.Side effects include dizziness, fainting, headache, irregular heartbeat, loss of appetite, nosebleeds and shortness of breath.
A mixture of follicle-stimulating hormone (FSH) and luteinizing hormone (LH). In males they are used to stimulate the production of sperm.Side effects include dizziness, fainting, headache, irregular heartbeat, loss of appetite, nosebleeds and shortness of breath. Antibiotics are also sometimes used as an aid to fertility treatment:
and Fluoroquinolones ("floxacins")
Side effects include diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, stomach or abdominal pain, dizziness, drowsiness, light-headedness, nervousness, sleep problems and headache. More serious side effects, although rare, can include skin problems, fever, agitation, shakiness, tingling and seizures.
Other common prescriptions include pain relievers, anti-inflammatories and muscle relaxants.
Natural treatments Many ingredients are well recognised for their sexual health benefits. However, it is important to understand that your body needs more than just the individual ingredient.
To reach optimum performance your body requires a wide synergistic range of nutrients that must target the health of all your main organs, including the sexual organs and body systems.
If you are a man you need ALL the following nutrients if you wish to uphold lifelong sexual health. This is in addition to maintaining a reasonable exercise and diet lifestyle:
Epilobium parviflorum extracts
Grape seed extract
Gingko Biloba extract
Green Tea Extract Corn Silk extract
Phytosterols (Beta Sitosterol)
Omega 3 DHA fish oil PLUS… A wide range of co-factors, vitamins, minerals, amino acids, trace elements plus other specialty substances such as RNA (Ribonucleis Acid) and various herbal extracts.
What will these specific nutrients do for you?
Many of the nutrients referred to serve multiple purposes, but for simplicity they are only listed in the sections in which they serve the prime purpose.
To naturally increase testosterone levels:
Chrysin A naturally occurring isoflavone chemically extracted from the plant Passiflora coerulea, will prevent the conversion of testosterone into estrogen. Although testosterone is still produced many men over 50 find they have a serious problem in that much of their testosterone converts to estrogen. In fact many men over 50 have higher levels of estrogen than women! Studies with Chrysin have shown a testosterone increase of up to 30% after supplementation.
Tribulus terrestris extract will also naturally increase the production of testosterone by increasing the body's production of luteinizing hormone (LH) levels. (LH is produced by the pituitary gland and plays an important role in triggering natural testosterone production.) To help relieve / avoid an enlarged prostate:
Beta Sitosterol Proven effective in reducing symptoms of benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) and is used to enhance sexual activity and boost the immune system. Research indicates phytosterols lessen inflammation and help to block the build up of cholesterol in the prostate gland.
Saw Palmetto Successful in treating chronic nonbacterial prostatitis. Studies indicate that certain active fatty acids in Saw Palmetto inhibit the production of prostate cells and help to fight inflammation, decreasing prostate size. NB: Studies prove that phytosterols and Saw Palmetto have actually outperformed Proscar with none of the negative side effects, such as impotency, is well documented through Proscar use.
Zinc More abundant in the prostate gland than any other organ. Deficiency has been shown to contribute to prostate enlargement. Its antibacterial activity is considered a key factor in natural resistance to infection of the male urinary and reproductive systems. NB: In order to achieve sufficient efficacy and effectiveness both Zinc citrate and Zinc aspartate need to be present. This is because different forms of Zinc follow different metabolic pathways. E.g. Zinc citrate does not go directly to the prostate whereas Zinc aspartate does.
Corn Silk Containing saponins, allantoin, sterols, tannins, an alkaloid called hordenine and vitamin C and vitamin K. It is a valuable diuretic and demulcent (having a soothing effect) to the urinary tract. To help prevent prostate cancer:
Grape seed and Quercetin Helping to protect you against prostate cancer. By containing anti-inflammatory and antioxidant effects they help to block male hormones that encourage the growth of cancer cells. To help increase libido and desire:
Epimedium A flavonoid that encourages erection in the same way as Viagra. Like Viagra it inhibits an enzyme called PDE5, but with more natural intense results and fewer side effects.
Damania Helping to increase sperm and balances hormones to increase sexual virility. It reinvigorates the vital energy of the system. A safe restorative of natural sexual capacities and functions. To help increase sexual satisfaction: The key to improving sexual satisfaction/intensity is the judicial use of all the above nutrients plus a number of other supporting co-factors.
L-Arginine A nutrient important in achieving the above objective by dilating blood vessels and improving the release of nitric oxide, ensuring that nitric oxide secretion is sufficient to keep blood flowing to the penis. NB: Although L-Arginine helps with sexual intensity it would have to be ingested in very high doses if taken alone. However, such high doses are not desirable for many reasons, not least of which is that the benefits will gradually dissipate. When combined with other nutrients in much lower doses, the results are much greater however.
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