According to a study released in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior, older men who have sex once a week or more may be twice as likely to suffer from a heart attack, stroke or some other cardiovascular event.
Apparently, the more pleasurable the sexual encounter, the greater the risk. One of the researchers who authored the study, Hui Liu in the sociology department at Michigan State University, said, “Older men who found sex with their partner extremely pleasurable, or satisfying, had higher risk of cardiovascular events than men who did not feel so.”
The data came from some 2204 people signed up with the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project.
Others in the medical field are questioning the results and implications of the study. While Dr. Liu expressed that the findings challenge the commonly held belief that sex is uniformly healthy in benefits for everyone, and that older people ought to understand the potential risks of sex, others disagree.
Dr. Kevin Campbell is a cardiologist at the University of North Carolina. Says Dr. Campbell, “You have to interpret this data with grain of salt. It’s in direct contrast with the significant clinical data we have showing that as men age if they continue to be sexually active their risk of cardiovascular disease actually decreases.”
Says Dr. Campbell, “I tell my patients a month after they have a heart attack or open heart surgery if they can walk a flight of steps without getting chest pain or shortness of breath, then they are fine to resume sexual activity.”
The study also shows that health benefits of sex at an older age is positive for women. Lui’s study suggested that older women may be protected from cardiovasvular risk because of good sexual quality.
Says Laura Berman, a sex and relationship educator, “We need to weigh the cost-benefit analysis and allow the older sexual relationship to progress, because we’re living longer in our society and we have to deal with this. I still believe that for the majority of older adults, the physical and emotion benefits outweigh the risk factors.”