Recently by Andrea Bradford Ph.D.

yogawomanpost.JPGRegular physical activity is known to reduce the risk of certain types of cancer and other serious diseases. Often overlooked, though, is the potential for exercise to boost one's sex life.

In men, regular physical activity offers protection against erectile dysfunction and may even be helpful in reversing it. A 1990 randomized trial found that men who participated in a vigorous exercise program had more frequent sex, improved erectile function and more satisfying orgasms than men in the control group, whose activity levels changed very little.

More recent clinical trials showed that similar benefits may extend not only to healthy men, but also to men with obesity and chronic heart failure. In a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2004, researchers found that nearly one-third of obese men who already had erectile dysfunction were able to substantially improve their sexual function through a program of diet and exercise.

Although comparable trials have not been carried out in women, surveys of premenopausal and postmenopausal women have found links between physical activity and better sexual function.

Increased blood flow

Laboratory studies also show that exercise just before sexual stimulation can improve blood flow to the genitals, which may enhance sexual arousal and orgasm.

sexualhealth.jpgThis summer, an international group of clinicians and researchers met in Washington, D.C., for a first-of-its-kind symposium devoted to cancer survivorship and sexual health.

Higher-than-anticipated attendance among physicians, mental health providers and other professionals attests to growing recognition of the sexual health needs of cancer survivors.

If I could summarize one theme from this conference, it was a focus on ways to make sexual health services more readily available to our patients.

As cancer survivors become a larger segment of the population, the need for comprehensive survivorship care will only grow.

Specialized care team

Some of the presentations at the meeting described how hospitals and cancer centers created specialized care teams for sexual health problems.

Typically, these teams are partnerships between medical and mental health providers with interests and training in sexuality.

For example, a group of researchers in Sweden found that prostate cancer patients had much better sexual outcomes after a sex therapist was added to their team of medical and surgical staff. Other presentations from researchers in North America, Africa, Australia, Europe and the Middle East echoed the need for a team effort.


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