Testosterone is for men, and estrogen is for women, right? For the most part yes, but there is estrogen found in all men, and women do need small amounts of testosterone. There is, however, a growing need to understand the effects of estrogen in men. Like all hormones, estrogen needs to be kept in balance in both men and women. Chronic health conditions are more likely to occur in men as a result of estrogen levels becoming too high.
Testosterone and estrogen are actually very closely related in the body. A look at their chemical structure reveals only subtle differences. Yet, the differences of the effects of these two hormones on the body are substantial. Testosterone affects nearly every cell in the male body. It improves muscle mass and bone density and will also have a positive affect on the heart, brain and blood vessels. Estrogen is actually made from the circulating testosterone in the body by an enzyme called aromatase. As men age, they tend to make increasing levels of estrogen with decreased production of testosterone. Estrogen can be made in the liver, muscle and brain, as well as the fat cells. This is actually where much of the concern lies. As obesity rates go up in this country and around the world, the production of estrogen will also increase from the fat cells. This is a bad combination of decreasing testosterone and increasing estrogen.
The benefits of testosterone for men are just beginning to be fully understood. We are learning that testosterone may help prevent heart and vascular disease in addition to its benefits with mood, muscles and aiding blood sugar levels. Diabetics tend to have higher rates of estrogen, which may correlate to a degree with their higher blood sugar levels. Lower testosterone has also correlated higher rates of depression. Too much estrogen may correlate with diabetes and heart attacks. Prostate cancer continues to be one of the most frequently diagnosed and one of the most common causes of death in men. Evidence is now pointing to estrogens playing a significant role in the etiology of prostate cancer. For years, testosterone has been blamed as the cause of prostate cancer, but a shift in thinking is pointing to an imbalance of the estrogens in the body being very important in preventing or causing prostate cancer. For men, too little testosterone and too much estrogen may play a role in nearly all chronic disease.
It is not unusual for women to experience sex without a climax, and in some cases that may not be the focal point of the intimate session.
However, seeing fireworks in the bedroom is definitely part of the appeal. That’s why you may want to know what seven habits could be keeping you from enjoying your relationship.
1. Poor communication. In the bedroom, sometimes a little guidance is in order. Sex is all about communication. If you don’t tell your partner what you want, how will he know exactly what you need to reach your peak? There are a variety of ways you can communicate – and it doesn’t all have to be verbal. Body language makes a powerful statement and could the one simple solution.
2. Bad body image. It’s hard to be in the mood for sex when you don’t feel good about yourself. Many women struggle with the desire for sex because they don’t feel attractive. Take the time to pamper yourself or buy new lingerie – great sex starts long before you enter the bedroom. Physical activity boosts feel-good endorphins – engage in some gym time to boost your confidence.
3. Birth control. It is ironic that birth control – the very pill that makes sex exclusively for pleasure possible – tanks your sex drive. The pill raises levels of sex-hormone binding globulin, which binds free testosterone or “free T.” If “free T” is not free to do its job – your desire suffers. Some pill manufacturers have made attempts to curb this side effect, but each pill can affect every woman differently. If you suspect your birth control is to blame for your low libido, talk to your doctor about alternatives.
4. Depression and anxiety. When you don’t feel like yourself, it can be difficult to muster up the desire for the fun things in life, like sex. And although there are medications on the market to control depression,; these meds, SSRIs (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors) in particular, can sink your sex drive. SSRIs increase serotonin levels, destroying the delicate balance of the serotonin to dopamine ratio in the brain. Too much serotonin in comparison to dopamine frosts your sexual desire and can put a serious chill on reaching climax.
5. Lack of lubrication. When intercourse is painful, sex is the furthest thing from your mind. Many women, especially just before, during and after menopause suffer from vaginal dryness. This condition can also affect women postpartum and after breast cancer treatments. Don’t be afraid to use lubrication – just be sure to get something that is safe and all-natural. Coconut oil is a great natural lubricant, not to mention, the sweet scent can transport you to a tropical oasis for your sex session.
6. Fatigue. Feeling exhausted all the time? It can be difficult to enjoy sex when all you can think about is sleep. Sometimes fatigue isn’t linked to a lack of sleep, but to a hormone imbalance, stress or the inability to relax. Take some time to analyze what may be causing your fatigue. If you can’t seem to pinpoint a reason, talk to your doctor – the cause may be related to your health. Your doctor can also offer guidance for overcoming fatigue linked to stress and thus help you get your sex life back on track.
Don’t think that you have to live without pleasure during sex – if you have tried changing your habits and things do not improve, talk to your doctor. Your sexual health is an important part of your well-being and your relationship.
Sexual problems in men may be linked to low levels of the hormone prolactin, according to a new study. The finding is perhaps surprising because experts have traditionally thought prolactin, which stimulates breast development and milk production in women, impairs men’s sexual functioning at high levels.
In the new study, researchers looked at nearly 3,000 European men ages 40 to 79, and measured their testosterone and prolactin levels, body mass indexes (BMIs), and blood cholesterol and sugar levels. The participants filled out questionnaires about their general health, smoking, alcohol consumption and sexual functioning.
The results showed low prolactin was linked to several signs of poor sexual health, as well psychological health. Men with levels of prolactin that were lower than average, although still within the normal range, were more likely than men with higher levels to say their sexual function was getting worse, particularly their enjoyment of orgasm. They also had more symptoms of depression, the researchers said.
Low prolactin was also associated with higher BMI and blood sugar, lower levels of physical activity, and generally feeling unhealthier.
Prolactin is best known for its importance in enabling women to produce breast milk after delivering a baby. During pregnancy and breast-feeding, prolactin levels are 10 to 20 times higher than at other times.
Men and non-pregnant women also produce prolactin, but it’s not clear what the hormone does in these people. Studies have found that high prolactin levels in men are linked to low sexual desire and erectile dysfunction, and men suffering from such conditions are sometimes tested for high prolactin levels.
The new findings, however, are in contrast with the well-accepted idea that high prolactin levels are linked with men’s sexual problems, the researchers said. In fact, the results suggest that prolactin might have a more positive, rather than negative, effect in initiating or maintaining male sexual behavior.
Some previous research supports the new finding, the researchers said. Two animal studies have shown that using drugs to increase prolactin levels in rats boosted their sexual behavior. And a brain-imaging study of men who looked at erotic pictures showed that higher levels of prolactin were associated with more activity in brain regions responding to sexual arousal.
However, it’s still unclear how prolactin may facilitate men’s sexual functioning, and the study doesn’t prove a cause-and-effect relationship, the researchers said.
It is possible that low prolactin mirrors a change in the levels of signaling chemicals in the brain that regulate sexual behavior. It is also possible that overall poorer health is the underlying reason for low prolactin and lower sex drive, the researchers said.
For most of the working world, the blaring of the alarm clock isn’t a happy sound. So why not turn that rude awakening into an opportunity with a roll in the 400-thread-count hay? After all, scientists say that people who start their days by having sex are all-around healthier and happier than those who don’t.
"Having sex in the morning releases the feel-good chemical oxytocin, which makes couples feel loving and bonded all day long," says Debby Herbenick, author of Because It Feels Good. It makes you stronger and more beautiful too: Morning sex can strengthen your immune system for the day by enhancing your levels of IgA, an antibody that protects against infection. And climaxing releases chemicals that boost levels of estrogen, which improves the tone and texture of your skin and hair.
Want to max out the morning love? Follow these tips:
Give Him a Sexy Wake-Up Call - Set your alarm to play soft music, and as soon as you’re roused, quietly slip out of your pj’s. Then try this trick: If he’s lying on his back, place your hands on his thighs with your thumbs pointing toward his genitals, suggests acupuncturist Alexis Arvidson. Move your thumbs in a slow, firm circular motion, two inches in diameter. According to the ancient teachings of acupuncture, rubbing this thin-skinned area will get the blood flowing straight to his nether regions. Well, isn’t that convenient, since that’s where you’re headed next.
Enjoy the View - Part of what makes morning sex so deliciously primal is that, in the light of day, it’s difficult to hide your so-called flaws. So let your insecurities take a backseat to pure, unadulterated pleasure, and instead of covering up under the blankets, throw them off so you can both get a visual thrill. He’ll bask in the eye candy, and you will too.
Take Advantage of Nature - Your guy’s body is hardwired to want sex first thing in the a.m.
"While he sleeps, the testosterone he’ll use for the upcoming day accumulates," says Gabrielle Lichterman, author of 28 Days. "From the time he wakes up, he has a three-hour window when he’s brimming with peak levels." Don’t let them go to waste.
Boost Your Animal Lust - As soon as you’re awake, snuggle up to your guy and take a whiff. Because he hasn’t showered yet, you’ll feel extra turned on by his au naturel scent. According to scientists at the University of Pennsylvania, a man’s musky underarm odor is a proven libido booster. Really, you can’t make this stuff up!
Install a Double Showerhead - Taking a shower together sounds romantic and all, but let’s get real: There’s room under the water for only one person at a time. Fix that by getting a double showerhead (available at any home-goods store). Then crank up the water temp; heat brings blood to the skin’s surface, making it more receptive to touch. And soap each other up with peppermint shower gel; the scent wakes you up as it triggers the same nerves that are activated by smelling salts.
Researchers from Harvard University gathered data from 156 men who were undergoing in vitro fertilization (IVR) with a partner. Each couple was asked questions about their diet, including how often they consumed processed meat, red meat, white meat, poultry, and fish.
Overall, men who consumed more than half a portion of processed meats such as bacon each day had significantly lower levels of “normal” sperm, compared to men who ate less than half a portion of processed meats per day. Additionally, the researchers also discovered that some foods seemed to increase sperm quality.
“We found the effect of processed meat intake lowered quality, and fish raised quality,” said study author Dr. Myriam Afeiche, from the Harvard School of Public Health.
However, some health professionals have expressed doubts about the study’s findings. Dr. Allan Pacey, chairman of the British Fertility Society, took issue with the way the researcher’s measured sperm quality and pointed out that the study included a small sample size.
“The relationship between diet and men’s fertility is an interesting one, and there is certainly now convincing evidence that men who eat more fresh fruit and vegetables have better sperm than men who don’t,” Pacey said. “However, less is known about the fertility of men with poor diets and whether specific foods can be linked to poor sperm quality.”
Exercise may boost a man’s sperm count, and therefore may improve a couple’s chances of conception, according to a new study.
In particular, men who lift weights or spend time working or exercising outdoors tended to have a higher-than-average sperm concentration in their semen, said study co-author Audrey Gaskins, a doctoral student at the Harvard School of Public Health.
"Men engaging in exercise for seven hours or more per week, essentially one hour a day, had 48 percent higher concentrations than men who were engaging in less than one hour per week," Gaskins said.
Meanwhile, two other studies being released at the meeting found that neither coffee nor alcohol affects a man’s ability to conceive, contradicting concerns raised by earlier research.
"Even though caffeine and alcohol are generally considered a risk factor for decreased fertility, we saw no evidence of that," said co-author Dr. Jorge Chavarro. The exercise study focused on the male partners of couples who sought treatment at the Massachusetts General Hospital Fertility Center between 2006 and 2012. Ultimately, 137 men provided semen samples and filled out questionnaires regarding their regular levels of physical activity. "When we looked overall, we found that men who engaged in levels of moderate to vigorous activity had higher levels of sperm concentration," Gaskins said.
Further, the researchers found that particular types of pursuits boosted sperm counts more than others. “Outdoor activities and weightlifting seemed to be driving the association between moderate to vigorous activity and sperm concentration,” Gaskins said.
Men who spent more than an hour and a half each week engaging in physical activity outdoors had a 42 percent higher sperm concentration than those who spent no time outdoors, she said. Weightlifters who spent two or more hours a week pumping iron had a 25 percent increase in sperm count compared to men who did not lift weights.
"Weightlifting has been shown to increase testosterone levels and improve insulin sensitivity,” Gaskins said. “Both of those have been related to higher sperm concentrations.”
Gaskins speculated that outdoor exposure to sunlight might boost fertility by increasing men’s levels of vitamin D.
The researchers found that one form of outdoor exercise actually can decrease male fertility, however. Men who rode a bicycle for more than an hour and a half each week had 34 percent lower sperm concentrations than men who did not bike.
Pressure placed against the scrotum by a bike seat or the increased scrotal temperatures caused by such pressure are possible explanations for this decrease in fertility, Gaskins said.
The study did not find any difference in the quality of sperm or how well it traveled in the body related to exercise.
Although the studies found associations between exercise levels and sperm concentration, it did not prove a cause-and-effect relationship. Two other studies assessing male fertility looked at the potential impact of alcohol or caffeine. One study reviewed the alcohol and caffeine intake of 166 male infertility patients, and found no link with the men’s sperm counts.
"We found that neither alcohol nor caffeine affected semen quality, which serves as a proxy for male fertility potential," Chavarro said.
A second study by French researchers also looked at caffeine intake, but focused on the possibility that caffeine could do harm to the quality of sperm as well as the quantity. The study, which involved nearly 4,500 men, reviewed semen volume and sperm counts, and performed genetic analysis to see if caffeine caused damage to sperm DNA. The researchers reported that caffeine intake overall did not have a detrimental effect on semen. In particular, caffeine did not seem to cause any significant damage to the DNA carried by the sperm.
Until now, research into the effects of caffeine and alcohol on male fertility has been very mixed, Chavarro said. “There have been many papers suggesting that alcohol and caffeine may be deleterious to fertility,” he said. “But there have been a few papers that say caffeine might help sperm motility, and helps sperm move faster with improved patterns.”
Getting breast implants may alter a woman’s sex life for the better.
According to a new study from Brazil, women who had cosmetic surgery to enhance their breast size experienced a significant increase in arousal and satisfaction following the procedure.
However, the researchers also found that women who had stretch marks after getting breast implants did not experience the same improvement in their sex lives.
The study included 45 women who were planning on undergoing breast augmentation. Before the surgery, Dr. Paulo Guimaros and his colleagues gave the women a questionnaire to assess the quality of their sex lives and sexual satisfaction. The women took the same questionnaire two, four and 18 months after the operation.
Of the 36 women who did not develop stretch marks after the surgery, all reported improved levels of arousal and more satisfaction with their sexual experiences.
To explain the study’s finding, some experts argued that getting breast implants can help boost a woman’s confidence in the bedroom.
"I think that the female breast is a very important part of a woman’s body, in terms of how a woman feels about herself in public, how her clothes fit and how she feels about herself sexually," Dr. David Reath, chair of the public education committee of the American Society of Plastic Surgeons (ASPS). "It’s very common for a woman post-surgery to say she feels more confident, that her outward body now fits her inward persona."
However, some experts believe that other psychological factors may be contributing to this finding.
"When we have exerted a great effort, spent a great deal of money and effort and time on something, we tend to justify that effort," Tomi-Ann Roberts, a distinguished professor of psychology at Colorado College. "Our good feeling is increased because of the effort, not the thing itself."
Partners of new mothers often experience shifts in sexuality, and these shifts are often unrelated to biological or medical factors pertaining to childbirth.
Research on postpartum sexuality has typically focused on female reproductive biology in birth mothers - for example, how hormonal changes that accompany pregnancy, birth, and breastfeeding affect sexual desire, or how birth-related interventions affect sexual activity. Few studies have looked at sexuality in the partners of postpartum women, even though it may be important for postpartum women’s perceptions of their own sexuality.
Sari van Anders, PhD, of the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, and her colleagues designed a study to examine postpartum sexuality as a social and relational process, focusing on co-parents. A total of 114 partners (95 men, 18 women, 1 unspecified) of postpartum women completed an online questionnaire about their sexuality during the three months following their youngest child’s birth. Attention was paid to physical, social, psychological, and relational experiences.
The researchers found that partners experience shifts in sexuality, just as birth mothers do. The changes that they experienced were linked to relational and social processes, not just biological or medical factors. In fact, low desire in partners was largely influenced by factors related to caring for a new baby - such as fatigue and stress - rather than by factors related to the birth and/or birth mother, as more typically presumed.
"Our findings help to clarify how co-parents experience sexuality in myriad ways that are contextualized within partner and parenting relationships," said Dr. van Anders.
"What is of note is that we have come to recognize that sexual health of one partner may be related to the sexual health of the other, no matter the cause of the change in sexuality. It is important to publish studies in all aspects of sexual health".
Most breast cancers diagnosed in men respond to the hormones oestrogen and/or progesterone; they need these hormones to grow. It is very common for men to be prescribed a hormonal treatment after they have had their breast cancer surgery to block these hormones and so help to prevent the cancer returning. The hormonal treatment that is most commonly prescribed to men is tamoxifen, but some men also have used other drugs known as aromatase inhibitors (e.g. Arimidex). Usually it is recommended that the tamoxifen is taken for about five years.
All of the men had taken tamoxifen, but only a few of them had taken other hormonal treatments. Men’s experiences of taking tamoxifen were very varied. A few experienced side effects that they felt they could not tolerate and they changed to a different drug, some experienced quite bad side effects to start with but these turned out to be quite short-lived, and some had very few or no side effects at all.
A few men talked about having menopausal-type symptoms, like hot flushes and night sweats. Some of them said that this made them more sympathetic to what women must experience at the menopause.
A few other men thought that taking tamoxifen had made them gain weight, although one or two men had lost weight whilst taking tamoxifen.
A few men said that they felt that tamoxifen had affected their libido or their sex drive. One man said that he had no sexual desire at all for a while which made him feel inadequate, but then it slowly came back. Another said that, because he had always had ‘too powerful’ a libido, he had sometimes wished that it would lessen. However, when his libido reduced whilst he was taking tamoxifen he then wanted it back. Another man said that he was ‘fine’ about his loss of libido because of the age that he was. Another man said that he could no longer ‘get aroused’. He expressed mixed feelings about this saying on the one hand that he felt “as though I’ve lost a part of me life, without a doubt” and that he wasn’t angry about it anymore “it’s just part of me now, it’s just .. doesn’t bother us”.
Another side effect that was reported by some men was tiredness, sleepiness or a feeling of lethargy. Some men felt that their emotions had been affected by tamoxifen. A few men had been more tearful in the first year after their treatment and a few had noticed that they became angry more easily, or felt moody, impatient or intolerant but they were not sure whether this was because of the treatment or a reaction to being diagnosed with their illness. For example, one man described feeling more emotional, although these feelings soon passed, and another described a range of emotions, including anger, but he was unsure whether this was a result of the tamoxifen or a reaction to being diagnosed with breast cancer. It is known that tamoxifen can increase the risk of a thrombosis. Although this is a rare complication, people might be advised to stop taking tamoxifen if they were due to have an operation.
Research has shown that there is a significant link between having a healthy heart (with the absence of cardiovascular disease), and having an active and fulfilling sex life. If we want to enjoy our sexuality to its fullest then taking care of our heart is essential.
Obviously taking care of our hearts on an emotional level is vital for a good sex life, but the health of the physical organ is also essential. After all, for our genitals to function optimally, they require a healthy blood flow. People with clogged arteries or bad circulation may have trouble getting aroused.
Further, when the heart is functioning at its worst and the blood isn’t being pumped around the body, we don’t feel a sense of liveliness… which isn’t going to do us any favors in the bedroom.
There are many things we can do to minimize heart disease and ensure a vibrantly thriving sex life.
- Getting enough physical exercise is fundamental to the health of our hearts.
- The use of stress relievers such as meditation, yoga, counseling, listening to music, natural therapies, or anything that works to manage stress is vital to avoiding heart attacks and heart disease.
- A good diet that is low in bad cholesterol such as red meat and high in good fats such as linseeds and hempseeds is crucial for our organ of love.
- Believe it or not, flossing regularly and maintaining optimum oral and gum health is linked to a healthy heart.
- Getting plenty of vital heart nutrients and antioxidants from fruits and vegetables.
- Forgiveness for those that annoy us or even have devastated us can lead to a healthier heart and improved emotional and physical wellness. Practicing non judgment and tolerance is another key to enjoying a happy heart and a vibrant sex life.
- Make sure to do things that keep your blood pressure low. Deep breathing, yoga, and being around animals are some simple ways to keep the blood pressure in check.
In fact, all doctors and experts say that anything that promotes heart and whole body health can also enhance action in the bedroom.
Furthermore, sex itself is good for the heart. It can be a great form of exercise (depending on your style), it relieves stress, lowers blood pressure, gets the circulation going, and is emotionally connecting. It is one of the most pleasurable ways to avoid cardiovascular problems.
A decline in testosterone is often blamed for men’s loss of muscle, energy and sex drive as they get older, but the culprit for some age-related changes may be a drop in men’s levels of the female hormone estrogen, a new study suggests.
Researchers found that declining levels of estrogen in men may play a role in the accumulation of body fat. Before this study, low levels of testosterone were thought to be responsible for both men’s loss of muscle mass, and gain of body fat with aging. “The function of estrogen in men has largely been ignored,” said study researcher Dr. Joel Finkelstein, an endocrinologist at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston. Until now, the study of the hormone in men has mainly been limited to the role of estrogen deficiency in bone loss, he said. “Men make estrogen from testosterone, and women do, too,” Finkelstein said. So when men age and testosterone levels naturally decline, men also experience a drop in levels of estrogen circulating in their blood.
The new results suggest that when estrogen levels drop, men experience some of the same consequences that women do after menopause: They have more bone loss, their libido declines, and they gain more fat around their midsection.
Estrogen important for men
In the study, researchers looked at 400 healthy men ages 20 to 50 who had normal testosterone levels. First, they gave all the participants injections of a drug that reduced the men’s normal production of sex hormones to levels typical of males before puberty.
Next, the researchers gave 198 men one of four dosage levels of testosterone gel, which the men applied to their skin daily for 16 weeks, or a placebo gel. The other 202 men used similar doses of the testosterone gel every day for 16 weeks, and also took a drug designed to block the conversion of testosterone into estrogen.
The researchers wanted to tease out which symptoms — changes in men’s body fat, muscle mass, strength and sexual function — were due to reductions in testosterone, estrogen or both hormones. They also wanted to determine the testosterone levels at which these physiological effects occur.
The results showed that many of the undesired effects of testosterone deficiency in men are actually due to the accompanying decrease in estrogen, Finkelstein said.
Changes in men’s muscle mass and size, and strength were largely linked with low levels of testosterone, but it was declining levels of both testosterone and estrogen that were associated with a reduced sex drive and erectile function, the researchers said.
"We were surprised at the dramatic effects that low levels of estrogen had on fat accumulation and sexual function in men," Finkelstein said. "We knew that these effects were seen in studies on mice, and these results very accurately predicted what occurred in humans."
Interpreting testosterone levels
"This is a beautifully done study that allows physicians to get a little better handle on interpreting testosterone levels," said Dr. Bradley Anawalt, an endocrinologist and professor of medicine at the University of Washington Medical School in Seattle, who was not involved in the research.
"But the real mind-blower of this study is the idea that estrogen has an important role in male physiology," Anawalt said.
The study has very important implications for medical practice, he said. The results clearly show that testosterone has a differential effect on body organs, such as fat, muscle, the penis and the mind, he said.
And the findings help doctors understand the threshold levels of testosterone in the blood associated with age-related complaints, and at what levels testosterone therapy may benefit some men.
Normal testosterone levels in men are considered from 300 to 900 nanograms per deciliter.
The study showed that men with small drops in testosterone at the lower end of the normal range — between 300 and 500 ng/dl — are likely to have decreases in erections and a reduced sex drive, Anawalt said.
If levels fall below 300 ng/dl, men may start to accumulate fat, and when testosterone dips below 200 ng/dl, men may experience a decline in muscle mass and strength, he said.
Anawalt said that one limitation of the study is the researchers used averages to measure treatment outcomes in the participants, so physicians need to be careful about applying these results to individual men.
Now, for the first time, UCLA researchers have measured how the brain behaves in so-called hypersexual people who have problems regulating their viewing of sexual images. The study found that the brain response of these individuals to sexual images was not related in any way to the severity of their hypersexuality but was instead tied only to their level of sexual desire.
In other words, hypersexuality did not appear to explain brain differences in sexual response any more than simply having a high libido, said senior author Nicole Prause, a researcher in the department of psychiatry at the Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior at UCLA.
"Potentially, this is an important finding," Prause said. "It is the first time scientists have studied the brain responses specifically of people who identify as having hypersexual problems."
A diagnosis of hypersexuality or sexual addiction is typically associated with people who have sexual urges that feel out of control, who engage frequently in sexual behavior, who have suffered consequences such as divorce or economic ruin as a result of their behaviors, and who have a poor ability to reduce those behaviors.
But, said Prause and her colleagues, such symptoms are not necessarily representative of an addiction — in fact, non-pathological, high sexual desire could also explain this cluster of problems.
One way to tease out the difference is to measure the brain’s response to sexual-image stimuli in individuals who acknowledge having sexual problems. If they indeed suffer from hypersexuality, or sexual addiction, their brain response to visual sexual stimuli could be expected be higher, in much the same way that the brains of cocaine addicts have been shown to react to images of the drug in other studies.
The study involved 52 volunteers: 39 men and 13 women, ranging in age from 18 to 39, who reported having problems controlling their viewing of sexual images. They first filled out four questionnaires covering various topics, including sexual behaviors, sexual desire, sexual compulsions, and the possible negative cognitive and behavioral outcomes of sexual behavior. Participants had scores comparable to individuals seeking help for hypersexual problems.
While viewing the images, the volunteers were monitored using electroencephalography (EEG), a non-invasive technique that measures brain waves, the electrical activity generated by neurons when they communicate with each other. Specifically, the researchers measured event-related potentials, brain responses that are the direct result of a specific cognitive event.
"The volunteers were shown a set of photographs that were carefully chosen to evoke pleasant or unpleasant feelings," Prause said. "The pictures included images of dismembered bodies, people preparing food, people skiing — and, of course, sex. Some of the sexual images were romantic images, while others showed explicit intercourse between one man and one woman."
The researchers were most interested in the response of the brain about 300 milliseconds after each picture appeared, commonly called the “P300” response. This basic measure has been used in hundreds of neuroscience studies internationally, including studies of addiction and impulsivity, Prause said. The P300 response is higher when a person notices something new or especially interesting to them.
The researchers expected that P300 responses to the sexual images would correspond to a person’s sexual desire level, as shown in previous studies. But they further predicted that P300 responses would relate to measures of hypersexuality. That is, in those whose problem regulating their viewing of sexual images could be characterized as an “addiction,” the P300 reaction to sexual images could be expected to spike.
Instead, the researchers found that the P300 response was not related to hypersexual measurements at all; there were no spikes or decreases tied to the severity of participants’ hypersexuality. So while there has been much speculation about the effect of sexual addiction or hypersexuality in the brain, the study provided no evidence to support any difference, Prause said.
"The brain’s response to sexual pictures was not predicted by any of the three questionnaire measures of hypersexuality," she said. "Brain response was only related to the measure of sexual desire. In other words, hypersexuality does not appear to explain brain responses to sexual images any more than just having Testosterone Cypionate a high libido.”
But debate continues over whether sex addiction is indeed an addiction. A study published in 2012 by Prause’s colleague Rory Reid, a UCLA assistant professor of psychiatry, supported the reliability of the proposed DSM-5 diagnostic criteria for hypersexual disorder. However, Prause notes, that study was not focused on the validity of sex addiction or impulsivity, and did not use any biophysiological data in the analysis.
"If our study can be replicated," she said, "these findings would represent a major challenge to existing theories of a sex ‘addiction.’ "
The increasingly popularity and health benefits of Brazil nuts may lead to these nuts becoming a daily snack for many men.
Brazil nuts are not only packed full of vitamins, minerals and rich in protein content, they also boast the highest dietary source of selenium. Selenium is a mineral not found in many foods and has been linked to improved sexual performance among men.
So what are 5 reasons men should eat this popular South American nut?
Five reasons men should eat Brazil nuts everyday:
- Increases Natural Testosterone Levels
- Improves sperm motility and reduces infertility (among men)
- Essential micronutrient for male reproductive system (testes)
- Excellent source of omega-6 fatty acids, and
- Nutrient dense food containing many essential nutrients and vitamins
In addition to being very healthy for the male reproductive system Brazil nuts are also 18% protein and 69% fat, of which a high percentage is of healthy omega-6 fatty acids.
Brazil nuts are also a good source of vitamins and minerals including, vitamin E, magnesium and manganese.
What is Selenium?
It is a micro mineral required by the body daily (in very small amounts). Although very little selenium is required by the body, much of our diets are deficient in this key mineral.
Selenium also acts as an antioxidant when combined with vitamin E, which is one of the many vitamins naturally found in Brazil nuts.
Selenium also aids in protein synthesis and prostaglandin production (these are hormone precursors) and aids in healthy reproductive, pancreatic and thyroid function.
What is the relationship between selenium & better sex?
According to a double-blind study published in the International Journal of General Medicine in 2011, selenium and vitamin E were given to 690 infertile men and 53% total improvement in sperm motility and morphology was observed.
Interestingly, as a side note the study also reported pregnancy in 11% of the cases.
Natural Sources of Selenium:
Brazil nuts are the highest and most concentrated food sources of selenium (around 70-90 micrograms per unit). Other natural sources of selenium include many types of seafood (Halibut, Cod, Sardines, Salmon and scallops) and lean meats including turkey and lamb. However, none of these sources of natural selenium come close to the selenium contained in Brazil nuts.
What is the Protocol?
To ensure the necessary amount of selenium in the diet, only 1-2 Brazil nuts per day are needed.
Since Brazil nuts do not contain uniform amounts of selenium (it ranges between 70-90 micrograms per nut) a specific number of Brazil nuts can be given. It should also be noted that no more than 2 nuts per day should be consumed since selenium in large quantities can be toxic and even reduce testosterone levels.
It is also worthy to note that Brazil nuts should not be purchased in large quantities. Due to its high omega-6 fatty acid content, Brazil nuts have a tendency to become rancid quickly.
For women, finding out that they are unable to have children means something different depending on their social class, recent research suggests. The whole “infertility journey” differs by social class, from how women find out they are infertile, to how they interpret and cope with the diagnosis, said study researcher Ann V. Bell, an assistant professor of sociology at the University of Delaware.
"It’s devastating for all women, regardless of their class, but how that devastation manifests itself is different depending on their SES group," said Bell, referring to socioeconomic status, which is generally a measure of income level. Bell conducted interviews with 58 infertile women from a range of social class backgrounds, asking them about their experience.
Women of high socioeconomic status tended to discover they were infertile much more quickly once they began to try to get pregnant, compared with women of low socioeconomic status, Bell said. That’s because women with high household incomes tend do a lot of things to actively become pregnant, including using kits to tell them when they are ovulating.
"Because they are so much actively trying…if it’s not working after a couple of months, they think something’s up," Bell said.
On the other hand, women with low incomes who have unprotected sex with their partner may not think of themselves as “trying” to become pregnant. Because of this, years may go by before the couple realizes something might be wrong.
Lower-income women seek a diagnosis of infertility more as an explanation of what’s wrong, whereas wealthier women often seek a diagnosis of infertility in order to get treatment for it, Bell said.
Women in the study with lower incomes told Bell that after their diagnosis, they felt like the odd one out in their communities, Bell said.
"The stereotypical representations of infertility represent it as this white, wealthy women issue," Bell said. "Women of low SES don’t fit that stereotype, so they don’t think that anybody like them is infertile," and they feel alone in their communities, Bell said.
In reality, women with lower incomes have slightly higher rates of infertility than women of high SES, Bell said.
In contrast, women with high incomes tend to know more people who are infertile because it is discussed more in their communities, Bell said. In addition, many of their peers delay childbearing, so they frequently know couples who are still childless.
Women of low SES are often unable to have children through infertility treatments because the therapies are typically very expensive. Lower SES women also may have difficulty taking time off from work to see a doctor, Bell said.
High-income women can afford the medical treatments, but often find themselves on an emotional roller-coaster.
"It’s sort of this addictive thing," Bell said. "With each new treatment, you get a little more hope that something is going to work."
An earlier study found that many women who undergo fertility treatments develop symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder.
"In the end, it’s almost as if women of high SES are coping with medicalization, and dealing with the medicine and lack of control that is caused by that. Whereas women of low SES focus more on coping with the infertility itself," Bell said.
"And because they’ve had other losses in their life, and are confronted with hardships everyday," low SES women tend to move on from their infertility diagnosis more easily than women of high SES do, Bell said.
Bell says her work shows that infertility is a diverse and social process. "We think of it as a medically objective, bodily issue that primary occurs to white wealthy women, whereas in reality it’s a socially constructed process that occurs to women of all walks of life," Bell said.
Researchers have discovered that large portions of the X chromosome - long thought to be the “female” version of the male Y chromosome - have evolved to play a specialized role in sperm production.
The study reveals that although the X chromosome has a “reputation” of being the most stable chromosome of the genome, it has rapidly evolved. Researchers from the Whitehead Institute say the results mean that the medical and biological importance of the X chromosome needs to be reevaluated.
David Page, director of the Whitehead Institute, Cambridge, MA, says: - “We view this as the double life of the X chromosome. The X is the most famous, most intensely studied chromosome in all of human genetics. And the story of the X has been the story of X-linked recessive diseases, such as color blindness, hemophilia, and Duchenne’s muscular dystrophy.” “But there’s another side to the X, a side that is rapidly evolving and seems to be attuned to the reproductive needs of males.”
How was the X chromosome analyzed?
The study involved comparing the X chromosome in mice with that in humans in order to test how the “longstanding biological tenet” that the gene content of the X chromosome is shared and conserved across mammals, the researchers say.
This was done by using a unique sequencing method created by David Page along with developers at Washington University in St. Louis - single-haplotype iterative mapping and sequencing (SHIMS). This enabled the researchers to discover the human X reference sequence.
After then improving this reference sequencing, the researchers found that both the mouse and the human X chromosome have almost 95% of their “X-linked, single copy genes in common” and nearly all of these genes are expressed in both sexes.
The evolution of the X chromosome
The scientists say their most interesting discovery was finding 340 genes that were not shared between mice and humans. The researchers say that these genes seem to have developed by themselves over the 80 million years since humans and mice were separated from “common ancestors.” When the researchers analyzed the expression of these genes, they found them to be almost exclusively active in the testicular germ cells, meaning that they are very likely to contribute to sperm production.
Jacob Mueller, a postdoctoral researcher at the Whitehead Institute, says that these genes are more likely to have roles in diseases that are related to reproduction such as infertility and testicular cancer.
He says: - “This is a collection of genes that has largely eluded medical geneticists. None of these genes have been associated with a Mendelian trait. Now that we are confident of the assembly and gene content of these highly repetitive regions on the X chromosome, we can start to dissect their biological significance.”