Home Men Health Low sexual satisfaction in mid-life may signal future cognitive decline

Low sexual satisfaction in mid-life may signal future cognitive decline

Low sexual satisfaction in mid-life may signal future cognitive decline

Low sexual satisfaction in middle age may function an early warning sign for future cognitive decline, based on a brand new study led by Penn State researchers. The study, which tracked associations between erectile function, sexual satisfaction and cognition in tons of of men aged 56 through 68, found that declines in sexual satisfaction and erectile function were correlated with future memory loss.

The study, published in the most recent issue of the journal Gerontologist, is the primary to longitudinally track sexual satisfaction in tandem with sexual health and cognition, the researchers state, and its findings point to a possible novel risk factor for cognitive decline.

What was unique about our approach is that we measured memory function and sexual function at each point within the longitudinal study, so we could have a look at how they modified together over time. What we found connects to what scientists are starting to know concerning the link between life satisfaction and cognitive performance.”

Martin Sliwinski, professor of human development and family studies at Penn State and co-author on the study

The study explored the connection between physical changes just like the microvascular changes relevant for erectile function, and psychological changes, equivalent to lower sexual satisfaction, to find out how the changes relate to cognition. They examined the shifts starting in middle age since it represents a transition period where declines in erectile function, cognition and sexual satisfaction begin to emerge.

Sliwinski added that while the team discovered a robust correlation between the three health aspects, they’ll only speculate as to the cause.

“Scientists have found that if you’ve got low satisfaction generally, you might be at a better risk for health problems like dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, heart problems and other stress-related issues that may result in cognitive decline,” he said. “Improvements in sexual satisfaction may very well spark improvement in memory function. We tell people they need to get more exercise and eat higher foods. We’re showing that sexual satisfaction also has importance for our health and general quality of life.”

For the study, the researchers used survey data from 818 men who participated within the Vietnam Era Twin Study of Aging. Through neuropsychological tests, equivalent to tests of memory and processing speed, they examined cognitive changes of participants over the 12-year span from age 56 to 68, adjusting for participants’ cognitive ability in young maturity. Their erectile function and sexual satisfaction were measured alongside cognition, using the International Index of Erectile Function, a self-reported assessment for male sexual health. The researchers then built a statistical model to know how the three variables modified as individuals aged.

“Research on sexual health has historically focused on quantifiable facets of sexuality like variety of sexual partners or frequency of sexual intercourse,” said Riki Slayday, a doctoral candidate at Penn State and lead writer on the study. “What we were thinking about is the perception of that activity, how someone feels about their sex life, and the way that influences cognitive function, because multiple people might be in the identical situation physically but experience completely different levels of satisfaction.”

The study found that decreases in erectile function and sexual satisfaction were each related to memory decline, which the researchers say points to a connection between psychological and physical health.

“Once we mapped the connection over time, we found increases or decreases in erectile function and sexual satisfaction were related to concurrent increases or decreases in cognitive function,” Slayday said. “These associations survived adjustment for demographic and health aspects, which tells us there may be a transparent connection between our sex lives and our cognition.”

Prior studies have found a link between microvascular changes and changes in erectile function over time. The truth is, the lively ingredient in Viagra (Sildenafil) was originally developed to treat cardiovascular problems, Sliwinski explained, so the connection between vascular health and erectile function is well understood. How erectile function connects to other facets of health needs to be an area of focus for future research, he added.

Increasing the assessment and monitoring of erectile function as an important sign of health may help discover those susceptible to cognitive decline before their 70s, he said. The researchers note that the older adult population within the U.S. is anticipated to double over the subsequent 30 years, which implies twice as many individuals will likely enter their 60s and experience declines in erectile function and sexual satisfaction.

“We have already got a pill for treating erectile dysfunction. What we do not have is an efficient treatment for memory loss,” Sliwinski said. “As an alternative of the conversation being about treating ED, we must always see that as a number one indicator for other health problems and likewise concentrate on improving sexual satisfaction and overall well-being, not only treating the symptom.”

Other co-authors on the paper are Tyler Bell, Teresa Warren, William Kremen and Carol Franz of the University of California San Diego; and Michael Lyons, Rosemary Toomey and Richard Vandiver of Boston University.

The work was supported the National Institute on Aging on the National Institutes of Health.


Journal reference:

Slayday, R. E., et al. (2023) Erectile Function, Sexual Satisfaction, and Cognitive Decline in Men From Midlife to Older Maturity. The Gerontologist. doi.org/10.1093/geront/gnac151.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here