A poor middle-aged sex life increases the risk of DEMENTIA in men, research suggests
We already know that a poor sex life can lead to relationship problems and increase the risk of heart disease.
But now scientists at Penn State University say it may also put men at greater risk of dementia.
In a study of 818 men in their 50s who were followed for more than a decade, scientists found that those with poor sex lives showed a faster decline on memory tests than those who didn’t.
Scientists suggested that this may be because individuals with bad sex are more likely to experience chronic stress, which can cause atrophy of the brain regions related to memory. But they also suggested it could be a sign of poor heart health, which is also known to increase the risk of memory problems.
In a study of 818 men in their 50s who were followed for more than a decade, scientists found that those with poor sex lives showed a faster decline on memory tests than those who didn’t (stock image)
In the study, published today in the journal of the Gerontological Association of Ameriathe scientists recruited people who served in the U.S. military between 1965 and 1975.
The participants were on average about 56 years old at the start of the study, but had reached the age of 68 by the end.
None of them had erectile dysfunction or cognitive impairment at the start of the study.
Each was surveyed at the start of the study and two more times at six-year intervals over the next 12 years.
They were asked about their sexual satisfaction, with participants completing self-reported ratings about their relationship, or relationships, and intercourse.
A series of tests were also performed to measure cognition.
The results showed that participants who reported having a poor sex life were more likely to experience memory loss than those who did not.
Men who had lower erectile function at the start of the study had greater memory decline over time than others.
These changes persisted even as scientists adjusted for demographic and health factors, such as age and body weight.
Dr. Riki Slayday, a doctoral student at the university involved in the study, said: ‘When we mapped the relationship over time, we found that increases or decreases in erectile dysfunction were associated with simultaneous increases or decreases in cognitive function. function.
“These associations survived adjustments for demographic and health factors, which tells us that there is a clear link between our sex life and our cognition.”
The researchers called for more monitoring of erectile function in old age as a possible sign of cognitive decline before age 70.
The study was observational and failed to deduce why a poor sex life can lead to faster cognitive decline. But scientists proposed three main theories.
On the one hand, they said that someone with a poor sex life might exercise less, have a poorer diet, and have poorer heart health.
It has already been suggested that this increases the risk of memory problems, as these individuals are more likely to have damage to blood vessels in the brain – which can damage cells involved in memory.
Other theories were that the men with poorer sex lives may have lower levels of testosterone, the male sex hormone. This, they suggested, could lead to a smaller hippocampus, involved in memory.
They also suggested that chronic stress due to a poor sex life or other factors could be behind the results. They said the constant release of cortisol – the stress hormone – could cause the hippocampus, which has many receptors for the hormone, to atrophy in old age.
It was not clear whether women with a poor sex life are also more likely to have memory problems.
The study was funded by the National Institutes of Aging.