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Sex is bad for older men, and even worse when it's good

Frisky older women reap positive benefits

Men of a certain age who enjoy frequent sex are putting themselves at higher risk of heart attacks and other cardiovascular problems, US researchers have warned. And just to rub salt in the wounds, older ladies who still enjoy a bit of the other reap positive benefits from frequent nookie.

The frankly depressing revelation comes in research from Michigan State University on how sex affects heart health in later life, published today in the Journal of Health and Social Behaviour.

A team led by associate professor of sociology Hui Liu analysed data covering 2,204 people aged 57 to 85 in 2005 in the National Social Life, Health and Aging project.

The study found that older men who had sex once a week or more were “much more likely to experience cardiovascular events five years later than men who were sexually inactive.” It also found that, bluntly put, “This risk was not found among older women.”

“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,” said Liu.

Even worse, “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.”

Conversely, female participants who found sex to be extremely pleasurable or satisfying had lower risk of hypertension five years later than female participants who did not feel so.

Previous studies suggest that strong, deep and close relationship is an important source of social and emotional support, which may reduce stress and promote psychological well-being and, in turn, cardiovascular health.

The researchers noted that deep and close relationships may reduce stress and promote psychological well-being, and by extension, cardiovascular health.

“This may be more relevant to women than to men,” Liu said, “because men in all relationships, regardless of quality, are more likely to receive support from their partner than are women.”

“However, only women in good quality relationships may acquire such benefits from their partner.” Moreover, the female sexual hormone released during orgasm may also promote women’s health, she said.

Which leaves older chaps who care about their hearts and their other halves in something of a quandary. Hopefully further research will throw light on just how much unenjoyable sex men should have to ensure both partners stay healthy. ®

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