Good overall health leads to strong sexual health—and keeps you looking and feeling young
This article is part of a series on the importance of functional medicine (and health) for men and how technology can be used to support a healthy lifestyle.
In our previous article about functional medicine and aging, we highlighted technology solutions men can use to keep feeling their best and improve their health journey. We also defined functional medicine and how it can support practical health activities. In this article, we’ll discuss some of the potential negative effects on sexual health that comes with aging. We’ll also touch on a closely related practice for supporting healthy living and, like functional medicine, focuses on healing the whole patient: integrative medicine.
There’s no stopping nature
People age. There’s nothing that can be done to stop it (at least for now!). But there are things that you can do to keep feeling your best. Watching your diet and exercising are the agreed upon places to start, but an important aspect of healthy living has to be an enjoyable sex life free from discomfort, performance issues, and stress.
According to a Fivethrityeight survey, weight (54%), physical health (49%), physique (33%), and sexual performance/amount of sex (23%) are the top concerns of adult men. These are things men worry about the most and with that worry comes stress—which doesn’t help when trying to fix these particular concerns. This stress becomes cyclical and may lead to increased health risks. So, how do you stay feeling younger and improve your sex life? There are many treatments out there, but first, let’s delve into the problem.
There are some serious medical issues that can arise as men age. Thankfully, these conditions are broadly understood and treatable. That said, it’s important to work with a licensed medical professional to provide the right advice and care plan to ensure you’re working towards a healthy and safe goal. These sexual health conditions are some of the most common problems men suffer from as they age. The two most common are erectile dysfunction and low testosterone.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a common complaint particularly among men over 50. With this condition, plaque clogs the arteries that supply blood to the area. This buildup of plaque could be due to high cholesterol (highlighting the importance of proper diet and exercise!). You may think that ED is the primary problem, but it can be an early warning sign for a more serious circulatory problem as well as heart disease. ED also has psychological causes like depression, stress, and relationship problems.
According to the Mayo Clinic, treatments available include:
- Managing underlying conditions like diabetes, heart disease, etc.
- Quitting smoking and limiting alcohol consumption
- Reducing stress
- Exercising regularly
Testosterone is a hormone that supports many of the vital functions in men. It aids in muscle growth and sustainment and is a key contributor to a man’s sex drive. Testosterone levels begin to fall after around age 30 and it’s estimated that men lose about 1 percent each year. Getting tested for low testosterone (or “low T”) is an important part of maintaining not only your sexual health, but overall health as you age. Conditions like depression, ED, fatigue, and reduced muscle mass can be caused by low T which can lead to feelings of “getting old.”
There are treatments available for low T, with the most popular being testosterone replacement therapy. This treatment is administered as a supplement (injections, patches, creams, etc.) and is closely monitored by your healthcare team. Adjusting your diet and exercise programs is also recommended.
It’s important to realize that there is a possibility that these conditions (or any others), could be genetic and not just caused by natural aging. That’s why it’s so important to speak with your healthcare provider. Regular physicals or checkups can catch these issues early and help your care team begin to tackle them.
Integrating your care
The practice of integrative medicines is, like functional medicine, a key part of supporting a healthy lifestyle, particularly as men age. For clarity, integrative medicine and functional medicine both seek the same goal but do it in slightly different ways. Both practices look for whole body solutions to health. Integrative medicine uses the same diagnostic and technological tools that traditional medicine uses but will supplement them with alternative healing methods like acupuncture, massage, and chiropractic services, for example. Functional medicine looks for biological root causes of problems (i.e., why is your blood sugar high? Is there an underlying reason? etc.).
Talk to your healthcare provider about taking advantage of either or both of these practices. Integrating “root cause” healthcare and supplementing health practices and solutions is a great way to start “turning back the clock.” It can also easily be supported by data-driven tools that you can use on a daily basis.
Tools and tips
Using the right tools to keep track of your overall health along with the integrative and functional medicine methodologies recommended by your health care provider is key to maintaining good sexual health. The Calcium app offers many goal-focused “pathways” (e.g., “Fit in Fall” Challenge, Bodyweight Workout, and Male Weight Management) that can help you to think healthier and support your healthy journey. Staying young is impossible, but feeling young is doable with the right diet, exercise, and digital support tools.
In addition to using technology to keep track of your health goals, there are some other steps men can take to improve their sex life and recapture their youth:
Therapy/talk to someone
Keep the lines of communication open and don’t be afraid to share your thoughts about sexual performance issues, feelings of depression or sadness, etc.
Stoke the fire
Remember what made your attracted to your partner—and what attracted them to you.
Sleep it off
Getting a good night’s sleep on a regular basis is not only good for sexual health but is vital for your overall health.
Don’t sweat it
Try as best as you can to limit unnecessary stress. This is a hard one to do in today’s constant-changing work/life environment, but limiting stress, even a little bit, can really help.
The healthy cycle
A healthy sex life contributes to overall health and good, overall health contributes to a strong sex life. If you are eating good food and exercising on a consistent basis, you will feel better about yourself, lessening chances of depression or feelings of low self-worth.
It’s important to understand that good overall health is vital for good sexual health. The exercising, watching what you eat, limiting (if not eliminating) excessive alcohol consumption, quitting smoking, and making doctor’s visits a regular part of your health care routine is all in service to “feeling young” and aging healthfully. As you get older and your sex life remains strong, you’ll feel your best. This healthy state of being is supported by functional and integrative medicine practices that treat the whole you so you and your healthcare team can make the best choices about your health.
In upcoming articles, we’ll focus on how healthcare providers who specialize in men’s health can best leverage technology and other tools to improve their practice and the services they offer to their clients.