A new study has found that sex is beneficial for aging women but not so good for older men. The study uncovered that frequent sex among older men actually increases their risk for cardiovascular events such as heart attacks. For aging women, on the other hand, sex was found to lower hypertension.
Associate Professor of Sociology Hui Liu explained to MSU Today, “These findings challenge the widely held assumption that sex brings uniform health benefits to everyone.”
The researchers analyzed data from 2,204 people involved in the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project. Ages of the participants varied from 57 to 85 at the beginning of the study when data was first collected in 2005-06 – additional data was collected five years after.
The researchers found that older men who had sex once a week or more were more likely to experience a cardiovascular event (heart attack, heart failure or stroke) within the five years compared to men who were sexually inactive. This association was not seen in older women.
Liu continued, “Strikingly, we find that having sex once a week or more puts older men at a risk for experiencing cardiovascular events that is almost two times greater than older men who are sexually inactive. Moreover, older men who found sex with their partner extremely pleasurable or satisfying had higher risk of cardiovascular events than men who did not feel so.”
Liu offered many explanations for the possible connection: The first being that older men have difficulties having an orgasm, so there is a higher level of exertion and stress on the heart when attempting to climax. Furthermore, as testosterone – the male sexual hormone – decreases with age, men may be more inclined to try medications to boost testosterone, which can take a negative toll on men’s cardiovascular health.
Although the news may come to a shocking surprise for men, Liu explained, “For women, we have good news: Good sexual quality may protect older women from cardiovascular risk in later life.” This may be due to the release of the female sexual hormone during sex, which offers cardiovascular benefits.
The study is not suggesting that older men abstain from sex altogether; in fact, moderate amounts of sex have been found to offer health benefits. Rather, it is suggesting that a high frequency of sex could pose a high risk to older males’ heart health.
“Is sex in later years good for our health?” MSU Today, http://msutoday.msu.edu/news/2016/is-sex-in-later-years-good-for-your-health/, last accessed September 7, 2016.