Senior sex – Cardiovascular risks and benefits for both men and women

We all want to believe that our sex life will effortlessly continue as we age and will be enjoyable, fun, and filled with pure pleasure. However, a study from the Journal of Health and Social Behavior brings up the question of whether sex during our senior years is good for our health or not.

The answer may depend on whether you are male or female, as shown by the results.

Women, you’re good – go ahead. Frequent sex is in your favor. On the other hand, if you’re an older man, be careful – having too much fun in bed could backfire.

The researchers from the study wanted to find out if there are any cardiovascular risks or benefits associated with sexual activity during older age. The study analyzed survey data from 2,204 participants, aged 57-86, from the National Social Life, Health, and Aging Project. The first set of data was collected from 2005-06, while a second set of data was collected five years later.

The cardiovascular health of each participant was assessed by charting rapid heart rate, hypertension, and the amount of circulating C-reactive protein.   If levels of C-reactive protein are elevated, this is a sign of inflammation and is known to be correlated with heart disease.

Generally, having more sex is seen as bringing about positive health benefits for both genders, but the results from this study suggest otherwise. It was found that older men who had sex at least once a week are more likely to suffer a cardiovascular event over the next five years at an almost two times greater rate than older men who are sexually inactive. It was also found that the men who had enjoyable, satisfying sex with their partner had a higher risk of a cardiovascular event than those who did not have this experience.

Older women were not found to be affected in this same manner as men. Women of this age group who had satisfying, pleasurable sex had experienced a lower risk of hypertension, leading to a reduced risk of cardiovascular disease in later life. So apparently, an enjoyable active sex life for older women is good news for them.

Researchers could not say precisely why older men with more frequent sex were at a higher risk for cardiovascular disease. However, they theorized that older men might have to put more effort and exertion into achieving an orgasm – either for emotional or medical reasons – than they did when they were younger. This extra exertion may stress their cardiovascular system, which may already be having medical issues. Another speculation is that an older man’s testosterone levels and medications taken to improve sexual function could increase cardiovascular risk.  

As to why more sex appears to be beneficial for older women, the feeling of more emotional and social support associated with a close relationship helps reduce stress and anxiety, promoting psychological well-being and protecting them from cardiovascular disease.  

To be clear, this is not to say older men should automatically reduce the frequency of their sex life – besides, many men would instead take their chances rather than give up frequent sex. But it does address that doctors should discuss with their older male patients with existing cardiovascular disease the potential risks of having strenuous sex and how to still have sex at the frequency they want without putting undue stress on their body.   


Dr. David Samadi is the Director of Men’s Health and Urologic Oncology at St. Francis Hospital in Long Island. He’s a renowned and highly successful board certified Urologic Oncologist Expert and Robotic Surgeon in New York City, regarded as one of the leading prostate surgeons in the U.S., with a vast expertise in prostate cancer treatment and Robotic-Assisted Laparoscopic Prostatectomy.  Dr. Samadi is a medical contributor to NewsMax TV and is also the author of The Ultimate MANual, Dr. Samadi’s Guide to Men’s Health and Wellness, available online both on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. Visit Dr. Samadi’s websites at robotic oncology and prostate cancer 911. 

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