Sexual Health for Men & Women

posted by on June 3rd, 2022

In a new age of self-care both women and men are asking what they can do to harness their physical well-being, mental well-being and sexual wellbeing. 

The good news is that there are a growing number of tactics and strategies to achieve this goal- some of the most beneficial may surprise you!

Surprise you because they do not require a radical change in routine, for the most part, but instead a simple course correction of our daily health routine, or just the simple addition of select micronutrients.  

  1. Adding a spiritual/meditative practice to your daily routine is one of the surprising ways you can age well. 

Being socially engaged, as well as spiritually grounded, may be linked to the support of an important hormone related to healthy aging and sexual wellness– DHEA.  DHEA is crucial for emotional and physical health, including feelings of sexual desire.  Studies show, those that meditate consistently have higher levels of DHEA in age match comparison to those that do not stop to reflect or have a practice of gratitude or meditation.

  • Become more active in your community.

It is proven that being connected to a community is good for the aging body and brain as well as to support a more youthful vigor and libido. When we feel connected to community, we often feel more connected to our own needs and the needs of those around us.  Studies have found that having and maintaining social relationships, both within our intimate partnership, other couples for example, but ALSO our own independent friendships and hobbies may help reduce stress and age-related risk factors.  In fact, research has shown that a high-quality friendship in a marriage is an important predictor in romantic and physical satisfaction.

When you think about your body’s metabolic health, sexual health and immune health you must also consider your connection to those around you and the quality of those relationships. 

  • Sexual function can be impacted by stress, sleep and diet (including supplementation).

Regular metabolic demands on the body, the requirements of work, the impact of irregular sleep and setting time aside for our family can have an impact on our quality of life and, subsequently, the quality of our sexual well-being regardless of age.  Because your immune and sexual health are the coordination of your body’s cells, chemicals and proteins, it is critical to properly support their function each and every day with a healthy diet and supplementation. 

The best approach may be to “get back to basics” to “copy nature”.  This is a sound approach to aging because it keeps the main thing, the main thing.  Diet, exercise and sleep all reign supreme to support our metabolism.  Something else that supports this trio is optimizing select nutrients through supplementation. 

A lifestyle that is balanced with the help of balanced nutrient choices through focused supplementation not only fills in gaps where our diets fall short but can also help us achieve a better night’s sleep and support our energy or endurance for activity (both mental and physical) throughout the day.  

Now this is not to suggest aging is as simple as 1…2…3…, rather promoting a mindset that says, “I can definitely make choices to improve my quality of life today that will impact the quality of my health later”.

Hormonal changes are a natural and known entity in the aging process.  What is surprising to many is how early in life we start to see this decline.  A woman’s hormones begin to decline at the age of 35 and plunge dramatically during her peri-menopausal years, while the signs of hormone changes in men, albeit more gradual, may start as early as his 40’s.

Complaints such as sleep continuity issues, increased inches/centimeters around the middle and low libido are more common than one might think for both men and women.  Concerns vary between men and women with men often being more concerned with stamina and erectile function, while women may be more concerned with desire or interest.  Regardless, stress has an impact on sex hormones for both! With, on average, 52% of adults (both men and women) reporting being dissatisfied with their sex life, it is important to understand the role of botanicals in age and fitness.

While being sexually inactive is a choice for some individuals, it could be a source of distress for others.

For those individuals, perhaps knowing there is an approach with the use of select nutrients, botanicals or antioxidants to support quality of life concerns may go a long way to improving their outlook and compliance.  Nutrients to focus on for optimal female balance include magnesium, vitamin C, B-vitamins like B-6 and additional antioxidants such as pycnogenol. 

Magnesium. 

Not only does magnesium allow the body to absorb calcium for healthy bone mineral density, but it also helps support the pituitary gland.  The pituitary gland is responsible for the balance between healthy levels of FSH (follicular stimulating), LH (luteinizing) and TSH (thyroid stimulating) hormones.  Magnesium plays a large role in each of the hormone’s activity in the body supporting healthy metabolism, ovarian and testicular health.

Vitamin C. 

Vitamin C is a flavonoid functioning as an antioxidant. Antioxidants work like a defense system, disarming free radicals which are unstable molecules that can damage cell structures. Researchers believe that the ovaries take in ascorbic acid right before ovulation, which then facilitates a strong ovulation. In a 2003 study, women who took Vitamin C had a significant increase in progesterone levels compared to those who did not. 

Zinc

Zinc acts on multiple organs of the body that are implicated in sex hormone production including the pituitary gland, the testes and the ovaries. Zinc increases your levels of follicle stimulating hormone by prompting the pituitary gland to release the hormone, which in turn causes ovulation and stimulates the ovaries to produce estrogen and progesterone.  In men, Zinc initiates key enzymes, playing a pivotal role in vaso-constriction of the key blood vessels and arteries in response to stimulation and sexual arousal and promotion of signals for testosterone support.   Because tissue stores of both Zinc and Iron can decrease with age or lack of sufficient diet intake, it is prudent to supplement today to avoid a chronic concern later.

Pycnogenol

Pycnogenol is an antioxidant with a clinical benefit in hormonal balance.  Pycnogenol as an antioxidant creates nitric oxide, which widens and relaxes arteries and blood vessels, increasing blood flow in your body. This includes blood flow to the pelvis, the skin, the heart and the brain.  Pycnogenol’s added blood flow supports the ovaries during the course of the female cycle, including peri-menopausal/menopausal balance of FSH/LH.  Blood flow assists the hormonal levels of progesterone and supports a healthy balance of estrogen and progesterone. Other benefits of this increased blood flow are the improved production of cervical fluid, improved egg quality and, in the case of men, increased sperm production.

While regular practice of a healthy diet, sleep and exercise, as well as social involvement, are everything that the doctor ordered, we still often need to ask, “is there a combination of botanicals that may support my sexual health?”

The combination of ingredients like Fenugreek, Red Korean Ginseng, Tribulus terrestris and pine bark extract (Pycnogenol®‡) allow this powerful supplement to support precursors to estrogen and testosterone, promote normal nitric oxide and blood flow to the genitals and support healthy libido.* 

This powerful combination possesses benefits for both adult men and women looking to support sexual interest or desire. Regular attention to diet, lifestyle and exercise can play an essential role in optimizing your health

Regardless of your age, physical activity and lifestyle, sexual health relies on an exquisite interplay between hormones, neurotransmitters, nutrients and psychosocial factors.  Both your internal and external environment will dictate the quality of your libido, your sleep and even your interpersonal relationships.  The most important step you take will be to choose a daily path that resonates with your personal life choices and goals.

US Depart of Health and Human Services; National Institute for aging/North American Menopause Society(NAMS)

Michael K Brawer, MD  Rev Urol. 2004; 6(Suppl 6): Testosterone Replacement in Men with Andropause: An Overview

Steptoe A, Shankar A, Demakakos P, Wardle J. Social Isolation, Loneliness, and All-Cause Mortality in Older Men and Women. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. April 2013.

Cacioppo JT, Cacioppo S. Social Relationships and Health: The Toxic Effects of Perceived Social Isolation. Social and Personality Psychology Compass. February 2014.

Lomanowska AM, Guitton MJ. Online Intimacy and Well-Being in the Digital Age. Internet Interventions. May 2016.

Progesterone – The Almost Forgotten Hormone. 2016. Progesterone – The Almost Forgotten Hormone 

Effects of ascorbic acid supplementation on serum progesterone levels in patients with a luteal phase defect. – PubMed – NCBI . 2016. Effects of ascorbic acid supplementation on serum progesterone levels in patients with a luteal phase defect. 

Nutritional factors in the etiology of the premenstrual tension syndromes. – PubMed – NCBI . 2016. Nutritional factors in the etiology of the premenstrual tension syndromes.