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mens-sexual-health

7 Sexual Health Facts Every Man Should Know

by | Jun 30, 2022 | Sex

As a man, you’re the CEO of your health. Chances are you’re already squeezing certain habits into your daily lifestyle to maximise your human potential. That may involve supplementing your diet with vitamins for improved energy, knocking back nootropics for laser-sharp focus, practicing meditation for a calmer mind, or hitting the gym for muscle gains.

But sometimes, taking care of your sexual health is a forgotten piece of the holistic health puzzle.

Research suggests a disconnect in how Aussie men value their health and their ability to manage it, with only two-thirds actively looking after their health despite 95% considering their health to be important. When it comes to sexual health, many men are unaware that there are things they can do to not only treat and manage existing sexual health conditions, but ways to prevent sexual health issues from occurring in the first place.

Since the quality of your sexual and reproductive health can impact day-to-day life in more ways than most men would like to admit, here are 7 sexual health facts that every man should know.

But first, what is sexual health?

On defining sexual health, the World Health Organization (WHO) states “sexual health to be a state of physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing related to sexuality. Sexual health requires a positive and respectful approach to sexuality and sexual relationships, as well as the possibility of having pleasurable and safe sexual experiences free of coercion, discrimination and violence“.

There is a broad range of sexual health issues, covering sexual orientation and gender identity, through to sexual expression, relationships, and sexual pleasure. They include:

  • Infections with human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), sexually transmitted infections (STIs) and reproductive tract infections (RTIs) and their adverse outcomes (such as cancer)

  • Sexual dysfunction

  • Sexual violence

  • Harmful practices

  • Unintended pregnancy

Why is good sexual health important?

Sexual health is a state of physical, emotional, mental and social wellbeing. Maintaining a good state of sexual health is fundamental to the overall health and well-being of individuals, couples and families, and to the social and economic development of communities and countries. On a personal level it’s also wise to maintain good sexual health to minimise health risks and boost fertility if you plan on making parenthood a part of your future.

7 Sexual Health Facts Every Man Should Know

1. Erectile dysfunction is incredibly common

If you’re having trouble maintaining an erection firm enough for sex, or finding yourself blowing your load too early, it’s safe to say you’re not alone. More than half (54%) of Australian men have experienced at least one sexual difficulty in the last 12 months, with around 2 in 5 (37%) reaching climax too quickly, and around 1 in 5 (17%) lacking an interest in having sex.

It’s okay to experience sexual dysfunction, and it’s more than okay to chat to your mates, partner, and health professionals about it. Considering how many people are affected by erectile dysfunction, there is nothing to be ashamed about.

Learn more on how common is erectile dysfunction?

 2. Erectile dysfunction can be driven by psychological or emotional problems

Having erectile dysfunction doesn’t mean there’s something wrong with your body. And it doesn’t make you any less of a man. Erectile dysfunction is a sexual health issue with a wide range of causes that can stem from psychological problems, physical problems, or a combination of both.

That’s because male sexual arousal is a complex process involving the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels. Sexual dysfunction can result from an issue with any of these, and be worsened by stress and mental health concerns. So there is a lot of room for error within male biology.

Common physical causes of erectile dysfunction include:

  • Heart disease

  • Atherosclerosis (clogged blood vessels)

  • Diabetes

  • Obesity

  • High cholesterol

  • High blood pressure

  • Metabolic syndrome

  • Parkinson’s disease

  • Multiple sclerosis (MS)

  • Certain prescription medications

  • Tobacco use

  • Peyronie’s disease (a sexual health condition characterised by the development of scar tissue inside the penis)

  • Alcoholism and other forms of substance abuse

  • Sleep disorders

  • Treatments for prostate cancer or enlarged prostate

  • Surgeries or injuries that affect the pelvic area or spinal cord

  • Low testosterone

Common psychological causes of erectile dysfunction include:

  • Depression, anxiety or other mental health conditions

  • Stress

  • Relationship problems due to stress, poor communication or other concerns

Remember, the key to overcoming sexual dysfunction is receiving a diagnosis and determining the root cause. This can be achieved through consultation with a doctor for a full assessment and treatment options.

3. Erectile dysfunction can affect men at any age

Being young and fit doesn’t automatically clear your risk or decrease your chance of developing erectile dysfunction. There are many factors that can interfere with your reproductive health and cause difficulty in developing and maintaining erections at any age.

Even through erectile dysfunction can happen at any age, your risk of developing ED tends to increase with age (hence the common misconception that it only affects older men). This systematic review states that around 40% of men aged 40 live with some form of erectile dysfunction, and that percentage increases an additional 10% with each decade of ageing.

Erectile dysfunction is also associated with several chronic health conditions and diseases, like high blood pressure, diabetes, heart conditions, and clogged arteries. The risk of developing these conditions increases with age, further propping up the misconception of ED being a sexual health dysfunction that targets older men.

To kickstart your ED avoidance plan, implementing healthy lifestyle habits of regular exercise, maintaining a healthy bodyweight, and consuming a wholesome diet, can go a long way in reducing your risk of ED and improving general sexual health and well-being. Plus, there are many clinically proven ED treatment options available these days to help you out when you’re struggling in the bedroom at any age.

4. Male sexual health conditions are manageable (if diagnosed)

Erectile dysfunction and premature ejaculation are two of the most common sexual health conditions affecting men. Although these two sexual health conditions aren’t completely curable for every man, these sexual health conditions are manageable. So, if you’re constantly finding it hard to form an erection or you want to last longer in the bedroom, there are a number of clinically proven medications that are proven to be effective.

Let’s start with erectile dysfunction.

When erectile dysfunction is diagnosed by a doctor, oral medications can be prescribed. These medications work by increasing blood flow to the penis to help form and maintain erections long enough for sexual intercourse. In terms of efficacy, 94% of men who participated in this study reported an improved ability to engage in sexual activity when using oral medications to treat impotence.

Now for premature ejaculation.

Similarly to ED, when premature ejaculation is diagnosed by a medical professional, a treatment plan can be prescribed. Typically, doctors will prescribe a combination of pharmacological (prescription medications and medical treatments) and non-pharmacological treatments (therapy, pelvic floor exercises, and behavioural techniques).

Since the cause of premature ejaculation is predominately due to psychological factors, PE medications work by increasing serotonin levels and targeting the part of the brain responsible for sexual arousal. This helps men to control and delay climax, and stay present during sex. Research shows an 85% success rate when used in combination with behavioural therapies.

5. Regular sex can reduce health risks

Regular sex doesn’t only provide sexual enjoyment and a great cardiovascular workout. Sex as part of a healthy relationship provides a number of health benefits for men, including:

  • Reducing the risk of prostate cancer

  • Reducing the risk of heart disease, stroke, and hypertension

  • Strengthening the immune system

  • Contributing towards better sleep

  • Lowering blood pressure

  • Providing headache relief

One study even shows that men who experienced frequent orgasms (defined as two or more times a week) had a 50% lower mortality risk than those who engaged in sex less often. So, if you want to improve your longevity of life, give yourself permission to enjoy a shag now and then.

6. There’s only one guaranteed way to prevent sexually transmitted infections (STIs)

Sexually transmitted infections can affect any person who is sexually active, regardless of age, gender, or sexual orientation. They can be transmitted through vaginal, oral, and anal sex, and can have a direct impact on sexual and reproductive health through stigmatisation, infertility, cancers, and increased risk of HIV.

Abstinence, or the act of not having sex, is the only fool-proof method to protect yourself against sexually transmitted infections. Since giving up sex isn’t a positive life choice we encourage or recommend (based on the aforementioned benefits of sex), it’s important to know effective birth control methods and ways to practice safe sex. And it all begins before you even touch your partner, by

  • Talking honestly about your and your partner’s sexual history

  • Getting tested for STIs before having sex

  • Avoiding sexual activity when under the influence of drugs or alcohol

  • Getting vaccinated against the human papillomavirus (HPV), hepatitis A, and hepatitis B (HBV)

  • Using barrier methods every time you engage in sexual intercourse

  • Maintaining good hygiene before and after sexual contact (washing your hands and rinsing off after sex)

When used correctly and consistently, condoms provide a barrier of protection that’s considered one of the most effective methods of protection against STIs, including HIV (not to downplay their efficacy in preventing unintended pregnancy). Dental dams can also be used as a barrier method of protection to prevent STI transmission during oral sex.

7. Not all STIs have visible symptoms

More than one million sexually transmitted infections are acquired every day worldwide, the majority of which are asymptomatic (symptom-free). So, if you’ve ever needed an extra push to visit your doctor for STI testing, here it is. Not only will STI testing enable you to improve your sexual health. It’ll help to reduce the risk of an infection evolving into a more serious health condition, and protect any of your future partners from contracting sexually transmitted diseases or infections from you.

Let’s get your sexual health sorted!

Every man should have the ability to achieve good sexual health and positive relationships free of discrimination, coercion, and sexually transmitted diseases.

If you’re keen to assess or improve sexual health, start the conversation with a doctor today.

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