Our physical and psychological makeup is influenced by the sexual imperative far more than most of us realize or wish to admit. Entire systems of psychoanalytical therapy (e.g. Freud) are based upon the premise that we are primarily sexual creatures.
Behaviorally, there is little doubt that there are dramatic differences between the sexes. This can be seen even in the earliest of years. (This is so in spite of vigilant efforts by “rights” groups to blur distinctions and to declare sexual equality by legal fiat.) Girls with dolls and boys with trucks and guns manifest with no coaching from parents, and reflect the natural nurturing tendencies of girls versus the more aggressive and protecting inclination of boys. Physically the primary and secondary sexual characteristics are obviously different. These features, in fact, attract the opposite sex and prepare each sex for reproduction, caregiving and protection for the young.
But sex is not just about recreation or procreation. It can directly impact health. For example, the risk of breast cancer is directly linked to childbearing and nursing in women – having children and nursing them for extended periods of time decreases the number of ovulations a woman has and thus decreases the pro-cancerous estrogen surges. Other research has demonstrated that fulfilling sexual activity in women is also linked to health.
A man’s sense of strength, perception of attractiveness to women, feelings of being loved and depended upon, financial success, respect, and feeling accepted are all intricately tied to sexuality. Male sexual self-worth goes hand-in-hand with physical and mental health.
Who primarily commits violent crime in society? Is it not young men in the heyday of their testosterone surge? Sexuality and health at their peak create the potential for either great accomplishment or great harm depending upon how these energies are focused.
On the other hand, when male hormone levels start to ebb in later years, health decline parallels this downturn. Men experience loss of muscle mass, lowered energy levels, decreased immunity, increased susceptibility to a variety of degenerative diseases, decreased libido and fertility, and various degrees of impotence. Sensing this decline, men can feel hopeless, worthless and at the end of life. Such feelings further fuel the downward health spiral often resulting in an early death.
The importance of sexuality in men is evidenced by polls showing that men would sooner risk serious life-threatening side effects than forego the possibility that a new drug (e.g. Viagra™) might rejuvenate them sexually. Being sexually alive even in the very oldest of men may be as important as life itself.
Although male hormone levels decrease with age, the slope of the curve can be dramatically altered. It will not, however, be just a matter of taking a pill. Supplemental male hormones are available but their use disrupts the body’s natural balances and can cause negative feedback inhibition. When this occurs, exogenous hormones (pills) send a signal to hormone-producing tissues that hormone levels are high enough. Endogenous (from the body itself) production therefore slows. Over time this can weaken hormone-producing tissues so that the initial problem of inadequate production is compounded. This is at least part of the mechanism for the adverse effects of anabolic (male hormone-like) steroids taken by athletes and bodybuilders. Young men eager to exaggerate muscularity end up with withered and weakened testicles and other endocrine glands setting them up for serious diseases as they get older.
A better alternative is to make healthy lifestyle changes (suggested in the Optimal Health Program™ http://www.wysong.net/optimal_health_page1.shtml) combined with natural nutritional supplementation, which has been proven to provide benefit to many.
Androgenic phytonutrients from herbs (such as Tribulus terrestris, Muira puama, Avena sativa and nettle leaf), amino acids (including L-arginine) and certain foods such as melons naturally increase testosterone production without the danger of negative feedback inhibition as experienced with anabolic steroids and other hormones. Increased testosterone levels, in turn, increase libido, act as an aphrodisiac and help prevent impotence. (In fact, modern research has revealed that testosterone is the only substance capable of generating libido in both men and women.)
Recent studies suggest that these phytonutrients also affect brain chemicals such that potency and erectile capacity are improved and male reproductive system growth, function, and repair is enhanced.
Phytonutrients can also improve sexual function through inhibiting the binding of sex hormone-binding globulin to its receptor site on prostatic membranes. This provides relief to benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) sufferers who often experience painful intercourse, a certain impediment to sexuality.
Other nutrients such as zinc, vitamin B12 and vitamin C directly stimulate sperm production and motility and thus increase fertility. Modern, processed, food fraction-based dietary fare can be woefully deficient in these nutrients. Selecting good supplements and converting the diet to more natural, fresh and varied foods is the solution.
Lifestyle changes (outlined in the Optimal Health Program™ http://www.wysong.net/optimal_health_page1.shtml) – not the least of which is maintaining healthy body weight and regularly exercising – when combined with proper nutrition can rejuvenate the entire body and with that send a signal to the sexual core of our biological being that we are alive and well. Such signals stimulate a natural invigoration of sexuality, and with that mental and physical health.
Dr. Wysong: A former veterinary clinician and surgeon, college instructor, inventor, research director for the company by his name and founder of the philanthropic Wysong Institute. http://www.cerealwysong.com.