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If you’re an older man — ages 57 and up — you may want to think twice before pouring a glass of wine, dimming the lights and playing Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get It On” in the bedroom.
According to a new study out of Michigan State University, published this week in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, aging men who have sex once a week or more — and enjoy it — are at nearly double the risk for cardiovascular problems than their male peers who don’t have an active bedroom life. Such health problems include heart attacks and hypertension.
The same can’t be said for older women. The study found that women in that age group who frequently enjoy getting frisky in the bedroom may actually enjoy health benefits, like lower blood pressure.
Why does frequent “enjoyment” of sex have health implications for men? MSU associate professor of sociology Hui Liu says:
“Because older men have more difficulties reaching orgasm for medical or emotional reasons than do their younger counterparts, they may exert themselves to a greater degree of exhaustion and create more stress on their cardiovascular system in order to achieve climax.”
This is the first large-scale study on the impact of sex on heart health of older people. The study is based on data from the more than 2,000 people who participated in the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. Researchers first collected data when they were 57 to 85, then again five years later.
“These findings challenge the widely held assumption that sex brings uniform health benefits to everyone,” says Liu.
But before you put yellow caution tape across your bedroom door, know that not all heart experts agree with the new research.
In an interview with HealthDay, Dr. Gregg Fonarow, a professor of cardiology at the University of California, Los Angeles, says he’s hesitant to accept the study’s findings until further research is conducted. Fonarow says other studies have shown that a “reduced frequency of sexual activity was an independent risk factor for cardiovascular events in men.”
Fonarow suggests that seniors talk to their doctors about any concerns they have regarding sex and heart health.
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