Sexual health is an important aspect of overall wellness and has a significant impact on our quality of life.
Sexual health is also relevant when it comes to longevity. Some studies have found that sexually active people have lower levels of stress and improved cardiovascular health, both of which have been linked to a longer lifespan. However, these studies are observational in nature and do not prove causality. That is, it is possible that healthier people are having more sex, rather than sex making people healthier. Nonetheless, the point remains: healthier people are having more sex.
Sexual Health and Longevity
For example, one study published in the British Medical Journal in 1997 found that men who had frequent sexual intercourse (at least twice a week) had a 50% lower risk of fatal heart attack compared to men who had sex less often. Another study published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in 2020 found that sexually active adults had a lower risk of mortality from all cause and cancer mortality for middle aged adults compared to those who were sexually inactive.
As we age, changes in hormones, lifestyle, and other factors can affect our sexual function and fertility. However, there are many ways to improve sexual health and maintain good sexual function as we age, which can also have a positive impact on our longevity.
In this article, we will discuss the role of diet, supplements, lifestyle, and other tips and tricks for improving libido, sexual function, and fertility, as well as the impact of certain prescription drugs that may possibly have a positive impact on sexual function, heart health, and longevity.
We provide a lot of general advice, but also make a point to discuss male-specific issues and female-specific issues. Let’s get started!
The Hormones: Testosterone & Estrogen
Libido, sexual function, and fertility are interrelated and are influenced by many factors, including hormones, age, stress, and lifestyle. For example, low testosterone levels in men can lead to a decrease in libido and sexual function, while in women, changes in estrogen levels can affect libido and sexual function, as well as fertility.
However, whereas certain forms of estrogen have been correlated with better health in women and can be one of the reasons why women live on average seven years longer than men, higher levels of testosterone in men have been associated with higher rates of mortality. It’s for this reason that we do not recommend people undergo TRT (testosterone replacement therapy) as we’ve thoroughly covered in another post, but are optimistic about estrogen replacement therapy for postmenopausal women and their healthspans.
Males and Erectile Dysfunction
There are many potential causes of erectile dysfunction, which is the inability to achieve or maintain an erection sufficient for sexual activity. Some common causes of erectile dysfunction in men include:
- Cardiovascular disease: Cardiovascular disease can affect blood flow, including blood flow to the penis, which is essential for achieving and maintaining an erection. Conditions such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and stroke can all contribute to erectile dysfunction. Read more for tips on maintaining good heart health.
- Diabetes: Diabetes can cause nerve damage and poor blood flow, both of which can lead to erectile dysfunction. Additionally, high blood sugar levels can damage blood vessels, which can affect blood flow to the penis. Read more for tips on maintaining healthy blood sugar levels.
- Psychological factors: Psychological factors, such as stress, anxiety, and depression, can also play a role in erectile dysfunction. These conditions can lead to a decreased interest in sex and can also affect a man’s ability to become aroused. Read about our 33 Tips for Maximum Happiness.
Continue reading for supplements and prescriptions that may improve a man’s ability to maintain an erection.
Lack of Libido for Males
Lack of libido, or low sex drive, is a common issue for men and can have a variety of causes. Some of the most common reasons for low libido in men include:
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as decreased testosterone levels, can affect a man’s sex drive. Testosterone is a key hormone involved in sexual desire, and as men age, their testosterone levels may decline. However, as noted earlier, lower testosterone levels can perhaps extend lifespan. This, therefore, becomes a topic of quality of life vs. quantity of life and will differ for everyone. Learn more about testosterone here.
- Stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety can have a significant impact on a man’s libido. When a man is feeling overwhelmed, his body may respond by reducing his sexual desire to conserve energy. Note that multiple ingredients in NOVOS Core, such as micro-dosed lithium, L-theanine, rhodiola rosea, and magnesium malate have been found to reduce feelings of stress and improve calmness.
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as depression, thyroid problems, and certain medications, can also contribute to low libido in men. Chronic conditions such as obesity, heart disease, and diabetes can also affect sexual desire.
There are many potential reasons why a man may be unable to make a woman pregnant. Some of the more common causes of male infertility include:
- Low sperm count: Low sperm count is one of the most common causes of infertility in men. This can be caused by a variety of factors, including genetics, lifestyle factors, and certain medical conditions.
- Abnormal sperm shape or motility: For sperm to reach and fertilize an egg, they must be able to swim effectively. Abnormal sperm shape or poor motility can prevent sperm from reaching the egg and result in infertility.
- Blockages in the reproductive tract: Blockages in the reproductive tract, such as those caused by previous surgeries, can prevent sperm from reaching the egg and result in infertility.
There is evidence that certain supplements and foods may help to improve sperm health and increase fertility in men. Some of the most promising include:
- Vitamins C, E & Selenium: Vitamins, such as vitamins C and E (don’t overdo the vitamin E, as it can possibly shorten lifespan. Stick with natural food sources or if you supplement, lower dosages of mixed tocopherols and tocotrienols), and selenium, can help to protect sperm from oxidative stress, which can lead to DNA damage and infertility.
- Zinc: Zinc is an essential mineral for sperm health and is involved in the production and maturation of sperm. Some studies have found that taking zinc supplements can improve sperm quality and increase fertility in men. You can also eat zinc-rich foods, like oysters, white meat chicken, beans, and nuts.
- Folate (vitamin B9): Folate is a B vitamin that is important for sperm health. Some studies have found that taking folate supplements can improve sperm count and motility in men. If you supplement, stick with folate supplements rather than folic acid.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fatty fish and flaxseeds, can help to improve sperm quality and fertility.
- Nuts: Nuts, such as almonds, walnuts, and peanuts, are a good source of healthy fats and antioxidants and may help to improve sperm health.
If you’re interested in which supplements to take for longevity, which include zinc and omega-3, check out this article.
Female Lack of Libido
- Hormonal changes: Hormonal changes, such as those that occur during menopause or after childbirth, can affect a woman’s sex drive. Decreased levels of estrogen and testosterone can lead to a decrease in sexual desire. Whereas hormone replacement therapy is not recommended from the perspective of longevity for men, for post-menopausal women, there’s some evidence to indicate that it may be favorable for healthspan. If you’re considering it, always check with your medical doctor for their perspective on your individual case.
- Stress and anxiety: Stress and anxiety can have a significant impact on a woman’s libido. When a woman is feeling overwhelmed, her body may respond by reducing her sexual desire to conserve energy. As noted for males and their lack of libido, it’s worth mentioning for the ladies that multiple ingredients in NOVOS Core, such as micro-dosed lithium, L-theanine, rhodiola rosea and magnesium malate have been found to reduce stress or improve calmness.
- Medical conditions: Certain medical conditions, such as depression, thyroid problems, and certain medications, can also contribute to low libido in women. Chronic pain, such as that caused by conditions like fibromyalgia, can also affect sexual desire.
There are many potential reasons why a woman may be unable to become pregnant. Some common causes of female infertility include:
- Ovulation problems: Ovulation problems, such as irregular menstrual cycles or anovulation (the absence of ovulation), can prevent a woman from becoming pregnant. Ovulation problems can be caused by a variety of factors, including hormonal imbalances, thyroid disorders, and polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS).
- Fallopian tube damage or blockages: The fallopian tubes transport eggs from the ovaries to the uterus. If the tubes are damaged or blocked, the egg may not be able to reach the uterus and become fertilized.
- Endometriosis: Endometriosis is a condition in which the tissue that normally lines the inside of the uterus grows outside of it. This can cause pain, infertility, and other reproductive problems.
There is evidence that certain supplements and components in foods may help to improve ovulation and reduce symptoms of endometriosis in women. Some of the most promising include:
- Vitamin B6: Vitamin B6 has been shown to regulate hormonal imbalances and improve ovulation in women with irregular menstrual cycles.
- Omega-3 fatty acids: Omega-3 fatty acids, such as those found in fatty fish and flaxseeds, have anti-inflammatory properties and may help to reduce symptoms of endometriosis.
- Magnesium: Magnesium has been shown to regulate hormones and improve menstrual cycle regularity in women with PCOS, a condition that can cause ovulation problems.
- Vitamin D: Vitamin D has been shown to improve insulin sensitivity and regulate hormones, which can help to improve ovulation in women with PCOS.
- Fiber: Fiber, particularly soluble fiber, has been shown to regulate hormones and improve insulin sensitivity, which can help to improve ovulation in women with PCOS.
Here are The 11 Best Food Supplements To Take, Even When You “Eat Healthy,” which include multiple of these nutrients.
General Tips for Improving Overall Sexual Health for Males & Females
Diet: A healthy diet that is rich in nutrients and low in processed foods can improve sexual health. Foods that are high in antioxidants, such as berries, nuts, and leafy greens, can help to improve circulation and increase energy levels, which can improve sexual function and fertility.
Lifestyle: Regular exercise, stress management, and getting adequate sleep can all help to improve sexual health and function. In addition, avoiding harmful substances, such as tobacco and excessive alcohol, can also have a positive impact on sexual health.
Sex: There’s that adage, “If you don’t use it, you lose it!” When it comes to sexual health, there’s truth to that saying. One of the ways to improve sexual health is to engage in regular sexual activity, which can help to increase libido, and blood flow, and maintain good sexual function.
Supplements that double for Longevity and Sexual Health
Five ingredients found in NOVOS Core have been found to extend beyond their longevity benefits, into sexual health. Specifically, magnesium malate, alpha-ketoglutarate, rhodiola rosea, fisetin and ginger:
Magnesium Malate: Beyond the ovarian health benefits already mentioned, a study found that men with erectile dysfunction had lower levels of serum magnesium than their healthy peers. It stands to reason that supplemental magnesium may be able to help men with erectile dysfunction. (Ayyildiz, S. et al. (2018)).
Alpha-Ketoglutarate: A study published in the journal Aging Cell said the following about Alpha-Ketoglutarate: “It is observed that a long term of α-KG (alpha-ketoglutarate) administration preserves the ovarian function, the quality and quantity of oocytes as well as the telomere maintaining system in mice. α-KG suppresses ATP synthase and alterations of the energy metabolism trigger the nutritional sensors to down-regulate mTOR pathway. These events not only benefit the general aging process but also maintain ovarian function and delay the reproductive decline.” (Zhang, Z. et al. (2021)).
Fisetin: In a study published in the journal Reproductive Biology, fisetin was found to protect sperm quality in mice from high temperatures (hyperthermia), which is a common issue for men who keep their cell phones in their front pocket or wear tight underwear (Pirani, M. et al. (2021)).
Ginger: Multiple studies have looked into ginger and its impact on fertility. In one study that looked into the impact of ginger on sperm fertility in humans, lab animals and poultry, concluded “ginger [has] a positive effect on the process of spermatogenesis and sperm development due to their biomaterials, and can increase biological strength and increase fertility in humans and animals. The use of the ginger significantly improves the biological parameters of sperm (number, total motility, survival rate and normal morphology) and also increases all specialized fertility indicators of sperm” (Gholami-Ahangaran, M. et al. (2021)). In another study, ginger’s impact on human sperm quality and DNA fragmentation was investigated in a human double-blind randomized clinical trial. It was found that ginger was effective at decreasing sperm DNA fragmentation in infertile men, which is a contributor to infertility (Hosseini, J. et al. (2016)).
Additional Supplements for Sexual Health
Certain other supplements, such as ginseng, maca, and horny goat weed, have been shown to improve sexual function, libido, and fertility. However, unlike the ingredients listed above and found in NOVOS Core, these other supplements have not been adequately evaluated in the context of longevity for us to give an informed opinion on their impact on longevity – whether positive or negative.
Prescription Drugs for Sexual and Longevity Health
Phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5) inhibitors, such as Cialis and Viagra, are commonly used to treat erectile dysfunction. However, studies have also shown that these drugs may have a positive impact on heart health and human longevity for males and certain females.
What are PDE5 inhibitors?
PDE5 inhibitors are drugs that are used to treat erectile dysfunction by increasing blood flow to the penis. These drugs work by blocking the action of an enzyme called phosphodiesterase type 5 (PDE5), which is responsible for breaking down the molecule cyclic guanosine monophosphate (cGMP). By blocking the action of PDE5, PDE5 inhibitors increase the levels of cGMP, which leads to improved blood flow and better erectile function.
Impact of PDE5 inhibitors on heart health
In recent years, several studies have shown that PDE5 inhibitors may have a positive impact on heart health for men. For example, a study published in the Journal of the American College of Cardiology found that PDE5 inhibitors improved blood flow to the heart and reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with cardiovascular disease.
Another study, published in the European Heart Journal, found that PDE5 inhibitors improved blood flow to the heart and reduced the risk of heart attack and stroke in patients with cardiovascular disease. In addition, the study found that PDE5 inhibitors reduced the risk of death from cardiovascular disease in patients with heart failure.
However, when it comes to females the story is more complex. Research seems to indicate that for females, estrogen hormone levels may determine whether the PDE5 inhibitor is helpful or has no effect.
Potential impact of PDE5 inhibitors like Cialis and Viagra on longevity
While more research is needed to fully understand the impact of PDE5 inhibitors on longevity, the potential benefits of these drugs on heart health suggest that they may have a positive impact on human lifespan. By improving blood flow to the heart and reducing the risk of heart attack and stroke, PDE5 inhibitors may help to extend human lifespan by reducing the risk of death from cardiovascular disease. However, it’s important to emphasize that this is theoretical currently and not conclusively proven. It’s also interesting to note that pharmaceutical companies have not pursued this tract, for one reason or another.
As with all medical therapies, it’s critical that you speak with your medical doctor to determine whether PDE5 inhibitors like Viagra or Cialis are right for you.
Sexual Health and Longevity: Concluding Remarks
There are multiple aspects of human longevity that are correlated with sexual health. Whether it be a lack of critical vitamins and minerals, excessive stress, an illness or early signs thereof, or another cause, poor sexual health may be a sign of a deeper health issue that should be addressed for both the short-term benefits of a healthy sex life and the long-term health outcomes.
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