Tuesday, October 13, 2015
Aging and Male Sexuality
Sexual activity is instinctive part of human behavior. But the biology behind this behavior is quite complex, especially in men. For many men, sexuality is one of the things that change over time. This change is usually a gradual and almost imperceptible process that starts in middle age.
Experts still don’t understand all the factors that contribute to sexual function in young men, let alone which factors are responsible for the changes that occur with healthy aging. However, it is obvious that the nerves, hormones and blood vessels that are responsible for male sexuality are changing with the process of aging. Although the sex act is a continuous process it has several stages and almost all of them are affected by aging.
To start with, a normal sex drive represents the unity of body and mind. This unity requires a certain level of testosterone – male sex hormone. Sexual desire is awakened at puberty when testosterone levels are increasing. Although the intensity of sex drive tends to decline with aging, most men produce high level of testosterone to boost sexual desire at a good level throughout life. For most of the older men sexual interest still exists, but it is far from preoccupation with sex that is common in young men. Many older men think about sex, but sometimes their body is very weak. It is also good to point out that men show tendency to produce more female hormones like prolactin and estradiol as they get older.
Every sexual activity starts with arousal and excitement. This is a result of combined erotic thoughts and sensory stimulation which usually includes sight, touch, taste, smell and hearing. The area of the brain known as hypothalamus coordinates erotic images and feeling and transmits the impulses of desire through the spinal cord all the way to the pelvis. The pulses are linked to the nerves of the pelvic area which ultimately leads to a reaction. Sensory nerves located on the penis and other erogenous zones are connected to the nerves of the pelvis and bypass the brain. In other words, all this happens by accident. Most men experience a worsening of sexual response with the aging process. Stronger erection occur more slowly and they become more dependent on physical stimulation than on erotic thoughts. Even when they have an erection, most men in their 60s will find it very difficult to maintain a hard erection and the penis won’t be stiff as it used to be. In addition, nocturnal erections decrease with age too.
The process of ejaculation involves the muscles of epididymis, vas deferens, seminal vesicles and prostate. All these body pars react automatically. At the same time, nerve impulses tighten muscles in the bladder neck so that the semen is forced to squeeze through the urethra instead of flowing back into the bladder. The pleasant feeling of orgasm usually comes with ejaculation. Ejaculation changes with the aging process. Muscular contractions of orgasm are less intense, ejaculation is slower and the semen volume is reduced. The amount of sperm is reduced too. Healthy men can have children in old age, but their birth rate cannot be compared with younger men.