Sunday, September 27, 2009

Is sex becoming too expensive?

Two pills have revolutionized sexuality—The Pill and The Little Blue Pill.

Just as Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approval of the first birth control pill in 1960 sparked the Sexual Revolution, FDA approval of Viagra in 1998 sparked a second wave of the Sexual Revolution for Baby Boomers.

Enovid (FDA approval in 1960) and Ortho Novum (FDA approval in 1962) liberated early Baby Boomer women from the threat of unwanted pregnancy (since abortion was not yet legal in the US).

Viagra (sildenafil citrate) liberated Baby Boomer men from the threat of erectile dysfunction (ED).

With all of this freedom, you’d think that all would be well in bedrooms across America. Well, guess again.

A recent article in the New York Times suggests that sex may be too expensive for men who use Viagra regularly. The astute Times reporters calculated that at $15 per pill, Viagra-aided sex twice a week would cost $1500 per year.

What’s a guy to do? Medical researchers have come to the rescue with natural ways to guard against ED. Their advice: Have sex more often and exercise!

Reporting in The American Journal of Medicine, Koskimaki and colleagues suggest a use-it-or-lose-it strategy to prevent ED. They found that “regular sexuality activity preserves potency.” In their study, men who had sex less than once a week were twice as likely to have ED as men who reported having sex once a week. Furthermore, they reported that the more sex a man has, the less likely he is to develop ED.

Since ED is often a symptom of other health problems—particularly diabetes or poor cardiovascular health—medical researchers also suggest exercise as a natural way to improve erectile function, as well as overall health.

Reporting in the same journal, Selvin and colleagues studied the relationship between five cardiovascular risk factors—diabetes, smoking, hypertension, high cholesterol, and obesity— physical activity, and ED.

They found that the prevalence of ED among men with diabetes was over 50%. (This is a particularly scary statistic since diabetes is on the rise in the US.) Furthermore, this research team reported a strong association between lack of physical activity and ED.

So, if you have a middle-aged spread, your sex life isn’t what it used to be, and you can’t afford to use the little blue pill regularly, get off the couch and exercise.

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