Why It’s Key to Overall Health


TUESDAY, Feb. 15, 2022 (HealthDay News) — Lovemaking isn’t just for the young — older people gain a lot of satisfaction from amorous relations as well.

But things get complicated as people age, and many folks let this important part of life drift away rather than talk about sexual problems with either their partner or their doctor, experts told HealthDay Now.

“Not many people talk about sex with their doctors, especially as we age,” said Alexis Bender, an assistant professor of geriatrics with the Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta. “So many people do report sexual dysfunction on surveys, but they don’t when they’re talking to their doctors. And so it’s important to have those conversations with primary care physicians.”

It’s worth discussing. A healthy sex life brings many benefits to seniors, experts say.

Sex has been linked to heart health, as well as overall mental and physical health. “It’s definitely an association, and it’s positive,” Bender said.

For example, lots of beneficial biochemicals are released by the body during sex, said HealthDay medical correspondent Dr. Robin Miller. These include DHEA, a hormone that helps with cognitive function, and oxytocin, another hormone that plays a role in social bonding, affection and intimacy.

“Having sex is a really important part of overall health and happiness, and people that have it, they live longer,” said Miller, a practicing physician with Triune Integrative Medicine in Medford, Ore.

Sex can actually get better as you get older, Miller added.

“For instance, for men, they can control their ejaculation better as they get older,” Miller said. “Women aren’t worried about pregnancy once they go through menopause, so they’re freer.”

Unfortunately, aging does complicate matters a bit when it comes to sex, Bender noted.

“For both men and women, we see changes in physical health such as diabetes or cardiac conditions that might limit desire or ability to have sex,” Bender said. “Activity decreases with age, but interest and desire does not, for both men and women.”

The changes wrought by menopause and andropause also can affect the sex lives of older men and women, Miller said.

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