The health benefits of sex are clear… A recent study in the American Journal of Cardiology finds men who said they had sex once a month (or less) had a higher risk of cardiovascular disease than men who had sex two times a week (or more).
While there has been work in the past to look at the link between erectile dysfunction (ED) and heart disease, this most recent study is the first to investigate the frequency of sex as it might relate to heart health.
Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women in the United States.
For this latest work, researcher Susan A. Hall, Ph.D. of the New England Research Institutes and her colleagues analyzed men who took part in the population based Massachusetts Male Aging Study.
This study looked at erectile dysfunction plus other sexual function variables – Things like libido, for example. The work included 1,165 men (in their 50’s on average) who had no history of heart disease at the beginning of the study, though 213 did have ED at the start of the research.
The participants were followed, on average, for 16 years.
The team found that there was a higher risk of cardiovascular disease as the frequency of sexual activity decreased. When compared to subjects who had sex at least 2 to 3 times a week, men with sexual activity of once a month (or less) had a 45% higher risk of heart disease during the study.
These findings do account for things like age and ED status.
“Our results suggest that a low frequency of sexual activity predicts [cardiovascular disease] independently of [erectile dysfunction] and that screening for sexual activity might be clinically useful,” the researchers write.
As part of the study, the team also investigated the role of sexual desire and the subjects’ capacity for sex as other possible factors in heart disease risk. Hall explains to online medical resource WebMD, “Men who are sexually active likely have libido and the capacity for physical activity. So the ability to have sex might be a marker for overall health.”
Of course a man who’s having regular sex is more likely to be in a supportive, intimate relationship with a regular partner, and experts do agree that this could also be responsible for an improvement in health.
The idea behind the study is that your doctor could get information about your cardiovascular condition, and risk for disease, just by asking some personal questions about your sex life, interest in sex and how active you are on a regular basis.
Of course talking about sex with a doctor or healthcare professional who seems rushed and preoccupied might not be the easiest thing you’ve ever done, but you can’t let this stop you.
Instead, plan what you’ll say…if you have a question, try to keep it to one or two sentences. You might also do some research online (using reputable sites as sources, of course) on your own to get you familiar with the basics.
Most important of all, remember that a doctor is a person, and while he (or she) might be uncomfortable with the topic, this does NOT mean you can’t raise it and get help with your problems.
In fact, expect a bit of awkwardness, feeling embarrassed when you start out, and you’ll be better prepared to face it in the moment, rather than back down and not get the answer you need.
The thing for men, and the women who love them, to take away from this research is that sexual health may have a lot more to do with heart disease prevention than medical science has realized.