Managing Your Health to Protect Your Sex Life
Chelsie Reed, PhD Psychology, Licensed Professional Counselor
June 07, 2014
By Dr. Chelsie Reed, PhD Psychology, Licensed Professional Counselor
|Chelsie Reed, PhD Psychology
Your sex life is at risk more than you know. Physicians may mention the effects of your health concerns on your sex life, but often we do not notice the effects until we already feel broken and hopeless. Instead of waiting for your doctor to ask about your sex life, take control of your health to avoid these popular pitfalls.
You may love with all your heart, but without a healthy pump, your love won’t get you too far. Sexual intercourse for men and women is reliant on an increase of blood to the genitals to better receive pleasure. The increase of blood flow to these areas, breasts, vulva, and penis, can be hard on your heart if you have risk of blockages, high blood pressure, or even low blood pressure. Men often can tell if their blood flow is not sufficient to the penis due to a softened erection; though women do not always associate their reactions, low response to sexual touch and lack of pleasure, with poor blood flow.
Weight is a touchy subject. Often people feel that the standards made by physicians are too ridged and often mean with words like “obese.” Let’s put aside the actual BMI or measurement of weight and look at the real-life effects that we experience. Gaining weight changes hormones in the body and is more work on the heart. People who lose 10 percent of their body weight can feel the effects and see them on a blood work-up, showing their hormones gaining a better balance. Testosterone, estrogen, and the thyroid hormones are all key players in your sex life and can be very reactive to your weight. Lastly, extra weight can make it harder to move and more likely to injure yourself, or even for a partner to injure themselves. Beauty comes in all sizes, also be aware that problems are not always weight-neutral.
Diabetes and pre-diabetes are not just about your waistline. On top of the effect of extra weight that may be a part of diabetes type 2, there are even more concerns. Diabetes effects nerve function and response, especially in the extremities. Sorry to say, the penis is an extremity. Poor circulation and neuropathy experienced in the feet and hands often then goes to the genitals. Some people blame this on aging, but often it is poor management of their diabetes.
When you don’t sleep, you don’t want sex. Your body again is a very sensitive and reactive mass of chemistry. Often the root cause of poor sleep is its own problem, such as with stress or pain, but even just not sleeping without any discernible cause is bad for your health and sex life.
Physical pain utilizes many of the same neurological pathways in the brain as sex. One indicator of orgasm is an increase in pain-threshold. So it is a circular battle in that due to pain, we often do not want to have sex, but by having sex, pain could be relieved. There are many pain-related uses for sex, such as migraine headaches, cramps, lessening in chronic pain, and even the pain of depression or anxiety. When we hurt physically or mentally (or often both at the same time), it is hard to take extra stimuli and thus sex is not wanted and even feared to be more painful. However, arousal alone can produce pain-fighting chemicals in the brain to make us feel better.
It is not new that stress can hurt your sex life. Little time makes it hard to find room for sex. The physical and mental nervousness/anxiety and lack of focus make it hard to even sex enjoy if you do find the time. This lack of focus easily leads to erectile dysfunction, lack of orgasm by men and women, lack of lubrication in women, and lack of arousal all around. But again, like pain, stress can also be lessened with sex. All of the feel-good hormones produced from arousal and orgasm can help alleviate muscle tension, anxiety, depression, and overall stress levels. Lack of arousal when stressed is often due to expecting that we can schedule sex, show up, and perform. This is not a good plan. We are not microwaves that can be warmed up with the push of a button — we need to slowly be warmed up through sexual thoughts all day long that build and create desire and then arousal. Desire is slow to come about and needs to be maintained to then be called upon for arousal and then sexual response — often culminating in orgasm.
The treatment for many of these issues is simple, though not always easy. Start with scheduling a physical with your doctor and a thorough blood panel to understand your chemistry. This may mean changes in diet, exercise, medication, or hormonal supplements. The next step is looking at the effects of your life on your sex life. Are your life choices making your sex life less pleasurable, less often, or even less wanted? Even with physically-induced sexual health problems, we often have worries and stress about our sex life that then emerge from these problems — these psychological problems do not always go away once you tackle the root cause. Counseling can help bridge the problems of the past with a new happy future and pave the way for continued health and happiness in the bedroom.
Dr. Chelsie is in private practice in the Ocotillo area of Chandler, Arizona. Find out more at www.drchelsie.com or phone 480-855-4009. Like her on Facebook.
Photo credit: Creatas/Thinkstock
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Chelsie Reed, PhD Psychology, Licensed Professional Counselor|
June 07, 2014