Protect Your Sexual Health
Take steps toward a healthy, satisfying sex life
By Sylvia Davis
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Feature
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD
Importance of sexuality
Sexuality is part of being human. Love and sexual intimacy contribute to healthy relationships, and to our happiness.
Research has shown that sex is more important to happiness than money. After analyzing data from 16,000 people, English researchers estimated that the happiness gained from increasing intercourse from once a month to once a week is equivalent to the happiness generated by getting a $50,000 raise.
Along with the positive aspects of sexuality, however, there are illnesses that can affect your sexual health. But by taking precautions, you can stay well.
Among the issues that can affect your sexual health are:
- Birth control
- Impotence and desire issues
- Sexually transmitted diseases
- Body image
- Sexual satisfaction
How your health affects your sex life
Experts agree: There is an important relationship between overall health, overall lifestyle, and sexual satisfaction. Research also suggests that certain physical conditions that go along with obesity also affect sex drive, further dampening the desires of those who are overweight.
The good news: You can make some lifestyle changes to enhance your libido, experts say. Those changes include:
- If you're overweight, lose a little weight (even 10 pounds) to stimulate sex hormones.
- Eat more nutritious foods, which control cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Choose heart-healthy foods such as grains, fruits, nuts, vegetables, and lean sources of dairy and protein.
- Exercise regularly. To strengthen your heart and help build endurance, add a few high-intensity bouts to your fitness routine. Strength training is also a good idea, to build shapely muscle and to keep your body strong enough to handle all your day-to-day activities (including sex).
- Get enough rest. It's hard to be in the mood for love when you are exhausted!
- Keep a positive attitude. Accept your body, whatever its size, and believe in your sensuality.
Get help if you need it
Although small changes in lifestyle -- along with some healthy "self-talk" -- can go a long way toward improving both drive and desire, if you still are experiencing sexual problems, professional help may be in order.
It's not as simple as getting a prescription for Viagra; sexual problems may be physical or psychological in nature, and can affect both men and women.
If the problems are persistent, or cause distress for you or your partner, it's time to see your doctor for evaluation and treatment.
Published February 2006.
SOURCES: WebMD Medical Reference in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic: "Sexual Health." WebMD Feature: "Sex Better Than Money for Happiness." WebMD Weight Loss Clinic Feature: "Better Sex: What's Weight Got to Do With It?" Weight Loss Clinic Expert Column: "3 Secrets to a Steamier Sex Life" by Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD. WebMD Medical Reference in collaboration with the Cleveland Clinic: "Male Sexual Problems."
©2006 WebMD Inc. All rights reserved.
Last Editorial Review: 2/13/2006
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