Love & Sex
Some months ago I had a telephone session with a man in his early thirties. He's been married for five years and he and his wife have been trying to conceive a baby for about three years, with no success.
He told me he always had a low libido but with the added pressure, he is now suffering from erectile dysfunction. His wife is very disappointed and unhappy because with hardly any sex there is even less chance of falling pregnant. While talking over his sexual history, I found out that he has been very overweight since he was a teenager.
With obesity rates on the rise, the effects of being overweight have attracted increasing attention, but one aspect of this problem is too often overlooked - the impact on male sexual dysfunction.
Being overweight can directly affect erectile dysfunction by lowering testosterone levels. Testosterone is the primary sex hormone in men, and it plays an important role in both libido and sexual function. It's one of the reasons my client has low desire.
Indirectly, obesity contributes to diseases such as high blood pressure, diabetes and high cholesterol, which all contribute to erectile dysfunction by damaging and constricting blood vessels and affecting the way blood flows in and out of the penis.
The penis needs a sufficient supply of blood to become erect and once engorged; the vessels need to close to maintain the erection.
In men, obesity is directly linked to infertility because of the way it affects sperm.
This research, done by Dr Sebastien Czernichow and his colleagues in Paris, and reported online two years ago, gathered data from 14 previous studies of nearly 10,000 men.
The researchers found that among the overweight men, 25.6 per cent had a low sperm count and 2.6 per cent had no viable sperm. Of the men who were obese, 32.4 per cent had a low sperm count and 4.7 percent had no viable sperm.
The authors noted that more research needed to be done, the analysis was limited and that sperm count was an imperfect measurement of fertility, but they believed that obese or overweight men were more likely to suffer from infertility.
The answer for my client may be that he should make an effort to lose some of his weight, change his eating habits and live a healthier lifestyle.
Exercising regularly not only helps to shed kilos, it also increases endorphin levels, which can do wonders to improve self-image and increase energy for sex.
Let's face it, we live in a society that puts great value on physical appearance and it's not easy for men struggling with obesity.
Men who are overweight often report that sex with a partner sometimes is just too much of a chore; they run out of steam before they are able to complete the act. They often feel self-conscious about the way they look and are reluctant to have sex.
Also fat in the abdominal area can make the penis look smaller than it really is, which doesn't help self-esteem.
The University of Adelaide is conducting a research study on whether diet combined with testosterone can prevent type-2 diabetes.
They are looking for men aged 50-74 years, with a waist measurement of 95 cm or more, who live in Sydney, Melbourne, Adelaide and Perth to join the study. If eligible they will receive free access to Weight Watchers and treatment with either testosterone or a placebo. They will be monitored for two to four years to check if the treatment helps prevent developing diabetes.
With the growing percentage of Australian and New Zealand men becoming obese, it may be time for doctors to explain to their patients how important it is to lose weight and therefore avoid having problems in the bedroom.
Knowing about the negative consequences of an unhealthy life to one's sexual functioning may help men quit smoking, consume less alcohol, exercise more and lose weight!
For a man to have good sexual health, he has to be physically and psychologically in charge of his penis.
Having to take Viagra for the rest of your life is not something to look forward to.
- Sydney Morning Herald
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