Yes! Bedroom inactivity is a health hazard
REPRODUCTIVE HEALTH | By Ayoki Onyango | September 13th 2021
Lack of regular and quality sex can lead to medical conditions including triggering high blood pressure and prostate cancer.
Prolonged ‘dry spells’ range from being single by default or design, death of a spouse, impotence and other sexually dysfunctional causes, long-distance relationships, substance abuse and long jail terms.
Dr Paul Saoke, a medical consultant, adds “busy schedules, taking a break and religious beliefs against fornication and adultery” as other causes of ‘dry spells’ with attendant negative health implications including “anxiety, depression and stress.”
Couples without regular sex are also less connected, often leading to communication breakdowns, yet research reveals that couples who have regular sex live happier lives and the sex doesn’t have to be daily-like a prescription: once a week is enough.
Most back pains in men are also caused by scarcity of exercise in the loins but medics prescribe painkillers for those unlucky in ensnaring potential partners.
Dr Saoke explains that sex has many benefits including managing stress and inducing quality sleep through release of sex hormones like oxytocin and endorphins besides helping the brain grow neurons, making it work better.
Dr James Odhiambo Alai of Kenyatta University Teaching, Referral and Research Hospital, says there are physical and medical conditions which can interfere with sexual functions like “diabetes, heart and vascular conditions, neurological disorders, hormonal imbalances, chronic diseases like kidney or liver failure, alcoholism and drug abuse” and also the side effects of some medicines, including some antidepressants.
Rose Tamara Ochieng’, a psychologist, adds the effects of work-related stress and anxiety, sexual performance fears, marital or relationship problems, depression, feelings of guilt, concerns about body image and past sexual trauma.
Lack of regular sex can also be caused by sexual dysfunctions which are in four categories: Desire disorder (lack of sexual desire or interest), Arousal disorder (inability for physical excitement), Orgasm disorder (delay or absence of orgasm or climax) and Pain disorder (pain during intercourse).
Sexual dysfunction can affect any age, although it is common in those over 40 due to declining health and other vagaries of ageing.
That aside, Dr Alai says sex has many benefits as it leads to release of immunoglobulin, which are immune-boosting antibodies.
For menopausal women, Dr Alai says they should have it regularly as it helps to lubricate vaginal walls and prevent tightening which can thin tissues leading to tearing or bleeding during sex which in turn, can lead to sex avoidance worsening the situation.
“Changes related to menopause, such as vaginal dryness and irritation, can be treated with lubricants, moisturizers, or low-dose estrogen”, explains Dr Alai adding that for men, irregular sex is a risk for prostate cancer even though the evidence is mixed.
Dr Steve Waluande, a pharmacist, says doctors can tell whether a medical condition is from lack of regular sex in several ways which starts with a patient’s “medical history to determine whether the condition is caused by ‘dry spell’.”
Dr Waluande says that a man, for instance, needs to ejaculate 21 times a month, on average and “I have been giving prostate cancer drugs prescribed by doctors,” says Dr Waluande “and the men reveal their sexual history, taking months and even years without ejaculation.”
Regular sex also has “cardiovascular benefit of regulating blood sugar to optimal levels, hormonal balance by keeping estrogen levels and testosterone levels within limits,” says Dr Waluande adding that in women, “it improves their bladder, cleans the vagina improves the quality of skin textures, eliminates acne and pimples.”
But he cautions that careless regular sex might also expose one to sexually transmitted diseases-which is another problem caused by trying to solve the problem.
Tamara Ochieng’, the psychologist, says sexual dysfunction can be addressed by treating underlying physical or psychological problems like hormone deficiencies can be treated using hormone shots, pills or creams while premenopausal women can have approved medications to increase desire.
When clinicians fail, there are therapists and marital counselors to look into causes including insights into harmful behavior like self-stimulation.
Dr Nicholas Ochieng, a general practitioner at the Kenyatta National Hospital says “doctors mostly treat conditions like hypertension, prostate cancer, stress, anxiety, depressions and wet dreams arising from lack of regular sax and give advice to ‘driers’ to obtain sex”. We don’t extract sperms from them neither do we advise women to use vibrators nor men to masturbate.”
There are anxieties, like waiting for medical, college or job interview results, and then there is sexual anxiety. For some men, it’s short-lived in the wake of a new sexual encounter, and to others, it becomes a waking nightmare. This fear of failure in performance is common even among self-confessed studs and occurs after experiencing a similar past encounter or from erectile dysfunction.
Prof Joachim Osur, a reproductive and sexual health expert and a professor at Amref International University, says new chances revive old fears which persist when not worsening the problem.
“The fear can be very strong that actually, the person will end up failing. Performance anxiety rises from failure and also worsens with failure,” explains Prof Osur adding that “some men will avoid having sex and start using excuses like being tired.”
Insecurities, according to Prof Osur, also occur when men worry about their ‘bed scores’ and how their partners view them.
Then there is premature ejaculation, which also causes performance anxiety and when you add lack of appropriate sex education considering “some men lack techniques of achieving or giving pleasure and most still believe in myths that affect their sexual performance,” says Prof Osur, then the fear and worry gets real.
Nyaye Nzae, a resident of Lamu, believes erectile dysfunction depends on genes and blood type as “there are those who use too much energy and with time wear out while those who use pills to enhance performance end up being dependent and can’t perform” and if it happens to him, it would be herbs to his rescue.
Hussein Bashora, another resident of Lamu also blames pills, men wanting to show off or prove a point, leading to performance anxiety but the effects are felt later after overuse of pills which boosts energy but worry sets in on how to deal with reduced use.
Prof Osur says “anyone who has had erectile dysfunction will have performance anxiety” and which turns into a medical condition when it recurs repeatedly and starts causing worry in relationships.
Underlying conditions like psychological issues, relationship problems or previous terrible sexual experiences can cause it but “the disease is individualized. If someone has it they have to do a full assessment because the treatment is of the cause rather than the dysfunction itself,” says Prof Osur.
Other causes include; insomnia, obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, hormonal imbalances, and psychiatric problems including depression.
Women also undergo performance anxiety especially those who experience pain-which they anticipate causing anxiety leading to sex avoidance.
Though sexual response cycle includes excitement, plateau, orgasm and resolution with desire and arousal as both part of the excitement, Prof. Osut says women don’t experience them in that order.
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