Beginning with a discussion of the brain and an explanation of sex codes, or how individuals personally view and approach sex, and a quiz to help each reader determine her specific sex code, Braverman looks closely at the major hormones involved with sexual activity and explains how to make permanent changes to four main areas affected by the aging process: libido, creativity, stamina, and satisfaction—for an additional 7-10 years of great sex.
With information and advice to address the health concerns of men and women alike, Younger (Sexier) You will help every couple achieve greater pleasure and intimacy; showing them that that the most effective way to remain young and sexy just might be the most pleasurable.
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Good Sex Is Even Better Than You Thought
IF YOU COULD make only one change in your life to improve your chances for staying young, I'd put my money on having frequent, loving sex. Every positive sexual encounter makes your brain and body younger. Everyone knows that exercise is critical to longevity. Sex is equally important.
But does sex contribute to good health or does good health make frequent, enjoyable sex possible? To my mind, the answer is both. Good sex and good health reinforce each other. Sex keeps us younger because it decreases stress, enhances intimacy, and helps form personal relationships. Lower levels of stress and increased personal relationships are clearly linked to better health. A study by the Archives of Sexual Behavior tracked sexual interest in healthy 80- to 102-year-olds. It found that 63 percent of men and 30 percent of women were still having sexual intercourse.
At the same time, studies are pointing to sexual activity as a predictor of longevity. One study has found that the frequency of orgasm for married women was protective against mortality risk. Other researchers have found a direct, positive relationship between sexuality and longevity. In another long-term study, men with a high frequency of orgasm were found to have a 50 percent lower risk of mortality than males with a low frequency of orgasm. You've got nothing to lose: Sex burns calories, and counts as a form of exercise. So as all those Nike ads say, "Just do it."
You need nutritious food to live, and you also need frequent and great orgasms to keep your brain and body in good health. One reason is that during orgasm, vital hormones are released, including the love hormone, oxytocin. Frequent sex keeps all your hormone levels up, including testosterone, estrogen, and growth hormone, which makes you younger in almost every way. So if you think you're doing yourself or your partner a favor by having sex once a month, or once a week, think again. You need lots of sex to reverse aging and achieve optimal health.
The Younger (Sexier) You goal is to never go past the sexual frequency of your forties: meaning three sexual events per week for the rest of your life, even if you live until you're 120. That should make retirement look like a lot more fun.
Good Sex Makes You Look Younger
Neuropsychologist Dr. David Weeks of the Royal Edinburgh Hospital found that a person's genetic makeup was 25 percent responsible for youthful looks, yet behavior accounted for 75 percent. Couples who have sex at least three times a week look more than 10 years younger than the average adult who makes love twice a week. What's more, loving couples make more of an effort to keep themselves in good shape for their partners, and they benefit from the physical and emotional effects of sexual intercourse.
HAVE THE BEST SEX OF YOUR LIFE AND GET HEALTHIER
We need to keep sexually active because sex has a function beyond procreation or recreation. Sex is like an electrical charge, and an orgasm is like rebooting your entire computer, powering up your health in multiple ways. Just take a look at men and women in their twenties and thirties: Their active sex lives enhance every aspect of their health. Here's how:
Thin, fit, and built: Sex makes you thinner, as it raises your metabolism. You're not going to drop 10 £ds every time you have sex, but studies do show that sexual activity can burn up to 200 calories. What's more, a healthy sex drive facilitates the skin's ability to manufacture vitamin D, which keeps your bones and muscles strong. Oxytocin is also known to cut appetite, as it increases the loving connection of bonding.
Better thinking: Sex helps maintain attention. Oxytocin regulates normal cognitive behaviors and functions, including aiding memory. When you're sexually alive, your brain functions faster, keeping your metabolism running high and your thinking speed quick. Most people think at a speed of 300 milliseconds plus their age. From the age of about 30 on, your brain speed slows down. But if you can maintain an active sex life, your brain will function as it did when you were younger, which means that you'll stay younger.
Emotionally stable: Sex helps to reduce anxiety and lessens cravings for drugs, alcohol, narcotics, and even food. Oxytocin lowers levels of cortisol, the hormone released when you are under stress.
Rested and content: An orgasm can help you get to sleep. Poor sleep is not only an age accelerator, but it's a sign that your brain is imbalanced. Sleep is necessary to reboot the brain so that it functions optimally during the day. Orgasm also has an antidepressant effect. A State University of New York psychology study determined that semen might reduce depression in women because prostaglandin, a hormone found in semen, when absorbed by women, can result in a modulation of women's hormones.
A healthier heart: A 2001 study from Queen's University in Belfast, Ireland, suggests that having sex three or more times a week reduced by half the risk in males of having a heart attack or stroke. Further studies showed that having sex two or more times per week seemed to have a protective effect on heart health. One Israeli study showed a statistically significant correlation between sexual dissatisfaction, frigidity, and heart disease.
Better immunity: Orgasms are thought to fight infection, increasing the number of infection-fighting cells up to 20 percent. A study released from the Institute for Advance Study of Sexuality shows that sexually active people take fewer sick days. In another study conducted at Pennsylvania's Wilkes University, students who had regular sexual activity all showed higher signs of an antibody known to fight colds and flu. For women, oxytocin serves as a natural antibiotic that can attack bacteria and decrease susceptibility to uterine infection. It also regulates prolactin secretion, an excessive amount of which can exacerbate breast cancer, brain tumors, and leukemia. Some scientists believe that sexual relations may lead to a decreased risk of cancer, because of the increased levels of oxytocin and DHEA released during sex. In men, studies have shown that a higher frequency of ejaculations is correlated with a lower incidence of prostate cancer.
Pain management: Orgasm may provide relief from pain. Some women engage in sex to relieve both menstrual cramps and migraine headaches.
Better reproductive health: A study from Planned Parenthood demonstrated that women who have sex at least once a week have higher levels of estrogen and are likely to have more regular menstrual cycles than celibate women or those who engage in less frequent sex. Studies also suggest that frequent ejaculation may increase overall levels of testosterone necessary for sperm production.
Better relationships: The hormones prolactin and oxytocin, when released during orgasm, bring out a sense of nurturing and bonding. That's why the correlation between great sex and longevity is based on the fact that you are having sex within a healthy, loving relationship, not a closed door and a magazine. Research released in the journal Biological Psychology indicates that prolactin released following orgasm is 400 percent greater following intercourse than masturbation.
POOR HEALTH LEADS TO POOR SEX
Both men and women can lose interest in sex as they get older. And once you lose the interest--or ability--to enjoy sex, you are accelerating the aging process even further. The question then becomes, why do we lose interest in sex, and how can we reinvigorate ourselves, and our sex life?
The answer is relatively simple. Many people believe that their loss of interest in sex is due to familial, psychological, or relationship factors. Yet I know that biological aging is primarily responsible for most sexual changes. Every day, my patients restore their lost sexual functioning, including many 70-year-olds who are hot to trot now, when they thought they were done with sex long ago. Once I reverse their aging, my patients are definitely interested in sex again. Best of all, some say that they are having their best sex ever at 50, 70, and even beyond.
According to a Duke University study, 70 percent of 68-year-old men were sexually active on a regular basis. However, this number dropped to 25 percent by age 78. With the average life span of a man in the United States being just 77 years, you have to question: Does a lack of sexual activity lead to sickness, death, or both?
In my earlier book, Younger You, I explained how your health is intricately connected, from the brain through the rest of the body. I show how every disease or symptom is part of the aging process. When one part of your body becomes ill, whether it is affected by a loss of memory and attention, diabetes, heart disease, or even depression, it starts an aging code, and the rest of your health will begin to cascade, pulling everything down in its path. These aging internal systems are going through "pauses," just like menopause defines diminished hormone production. These pauses are affecting your sex life and your overall health. Every disease in every organ can destroy sex. And everyone over 40 has a minimum of five hidden illnesses.
Problems like heart disease (cardiopause) and kidney failure (nephropause) can produce erectile dysfunction (ED). Diabetes (insulopause) has been shown to lessen desire, arousal, lubrication, and orgasm, because it kills nerves in the clitoris and penis, stunting the ability to experience sensuality. Menopause and andropause (the male version of menopause) are obvious contributors to sexual decline, both as a result of related physical symptoms (dryness, hot flashes, weight gain) and mental symptoms (mood swings and irritability). There are also other, more general factors that affect your sex life. I call these age accelerators because they detrimentally affect every aspect of health, making you older than your chronological age. For example, obesity affects heart muscles and blood flow, making sex more difficult. In fact, just carrying an extra 10 £ds can affect your hormone levels--including the body fat predictor leptin-- which can wreak havoc on your sex life.
Any type of addiction, whether it is cigarette smoking, alcohol, drug abuse, or even gambling can also impact sexual arousal and response. Depression, stress, fatigue, and cognitive failure will also alter your sex life.
Medications May Affect Sex
Serious illness can strongly impact your sex life. On top of that, some medications that rebalance the brain or reverse illness can cause sexual dysfunction. (See chart pages 8 and 9.) Restoring your sexuality may be as easy as talking to your doctor about changing your prescription.
If You're Unhappy with Your Sex Life, You're Not Alone
According to the National Health and Social Life Survey, sexual problems afflict 43 percent of women and 31 percent of men. They can occur at any age, regardless of sexual preference. They can accompany other illnesses or chronic conditions, or can occur alone. They can be lifelong ("I've always felt this way"), acquired ("I just started feeling this way"), or situational ("I only feel this way when . . ."). The underlying cause can be mental or physical, or both.
There are dozens of different sexual disorders that men and women experience. However, they are usually categorized as one or more of the following:
. Changes in sexual energy or libido, which includes hypersexuality (excessive desire), as well as diminished desire . Inability to become sexually aroused, both mentally and physically, including erectile dysfunction in men and vaginal dryness in women . Inability to orgasm, including anxiety related to sexual performance, a total lack of interest, or even pain during intercourse . Inability to properly time sexual function, including premature ejaculation
All of these disorders are real. And all of them can be reversed, treated, or even prevented. By identifying your sexual health issues, and matching them to problems you may be experiencing in both your current health and brain chemistry, you'll be able to restore your sex life. What's more, you'll be able to start getting your overall health in order just by having more sex.
I strive to use medications that treat symptoms only as a second-line therapy. My primary course of action is to treat the underlying diseases that are contributing to sexual dysfunction. This can include losing weight, resolving depression, and balancing your brain chemistry for total body health. If you take care of your whole body first with a brain-based program, you are likely to see the sexually enhancing results that you are looking for.
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