Sex reduces stress, prevents insomnia and raises our self-esteem. However, academic research has revealed another of the benefits that an active sexual life can bring to our health. The study, led by Riki Slayday and Tyler Bell, from the Universities of Pennsylvania and California respectively, has found a new relationship between sexual satisfaction, vascular health and memory performance.
The research consisted of measuring the levels of erectile function and sexual satisfaction of 818 men aged between 56 and 68 years. The academics detected a correlation between reductions in erectile function and memory loss, which remained after controlling for other risk factors for cognitive decline such as high blood pressure or cardiovascular disease. In this way, the promoters of the study have concluded that good sexual health could reduce the risk of suffering from dementia or Alzheimer's.
The main novelty of this research is its focus on microvascular health as a key player in the prediction of cognitive decline with age. Smaller blood vessels are crucial in erectile function and have been shown to be an irrefutable barometer of vascular health and cognitive health. Thus, the results of the study suggest that a minor problem of erectile dysfunction can help early detection of a cognitive problem. The researchers are now working on a similar study in women, using alterations in blood flow and hormonal changes linked to menopause as gauges.
Sexual satisfaction is another of the measures analyzed by this study, which is collected by the specialized health outlet The Healthy. According to the researchers themselves, sexual health is a very important factor to be left out of what we consider quality of life. A slight increase in the life satisfaction index can help to markedly reduce the risk of dementia. However, deficiencies in sexual life, like a sedentary lifestyle, addictions or social isolation, can negatively influence our cognitive well-being.
Among the striking conclusions of Slayday and Bell, the need to resolve taboos around sexual health stands out. Through access to quality sex education, many adults would gain the necessary guidelines to increase their sexual satisfaction. This, together with the creation of open dialogues, can further favor the prevention and early detection of memory problems.