How can I promote lifelong sexual wellness and vitality?

Lifelong sexual wellness is a commitment to yourself, your partner, and your relationship. Boredom is always a threat. Try to keep doing new and exciting things with your partner—not only does this increase hormones and neurotransmitters that can enhance intimacy and your relationship, but it can lead to decreased sexual boredom. Novelty triggers the transmitter dopamine to be released from the brain, which can stimulate feelings of connectedness and attraction and can enhance bonding. Ride a rollercoaster, dance naked in the living room, and use your imagination. Novel experiences shared together as a committed couple can increase closeness and increase sensual and sexual feelings.

You know the drill: eat all the right foods and get a lot of aerobic exercise and you'll live to a ripe old age. But apparently, there's more to good health than physical activity and good nutrition. Here are a few ways to boost your health and your long-term sexual satisfaction:

• Maintain social and community ties. Numerous studies have linked social support to improved immune function, longevity, a lower risk of heart disease, and speedier recovery from serious illness and surgery. In fact, a 1999 study in the British Medical Journal found that socially active individuals were just as healthy as their counterparts who exercised regularly, and that social engagement was more important than blood pressure and cholesterol levels in determining longevity. These connections should be genuine: casual acquaintances and cocktail party chatter are no substitutes for fast friends and abiding relationships.

• Get a pet. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that having a pet can lower your blood pressure, decrease levels of cholesterol and triglycerides, and moderate feelings of loneliness. A 1999 study at the University of Buffalo showed that cats and dogs reduced blood pressure and heart rate in a group of high-stress stockbrokers.

• Take a vacation. A study published in 2005 in the Wisconsin Medical Journal found that women who took a vacation only once in 2 years had a higher risk of depression and stress than those who took two or more vacations a year. They were more likely to report lower marital satisfaction as well. And vacations are good for the heart—both for men and women. Women who take two or more vacations a year have half the risk of developing coronary heart disease or other serious heart problems.

• Laugh out loud. In Anatomy of an Illness, famed magazine editor Norman Cousins wrote that 10 minutes of belly laughter bought him 2 hours of pain-free sleep. Research at Loma Linda University in California has shown that laughter increases the number and activity level of the body's natural killer cells and reduces stress hormones that have been linked to heart disease.

• Pray or meditate. Although scientific proof of the efficacy of prayer lags behind claims, a 2001 study in the British Medical Journal reports that saying the rosary (or repeating yoga mantras) may be good for the heart by synchronizing breathing with cardiovascular rhythms. Proponents of the health benefits of prayer say it improves coping mechanisms and produces better health outcomes. Numerous studies have reported multiple health benefits from meditation (particularly Transcendental Meditation), among them stress reduction, improved recovery from surgery, lower blood pressure, improved pain management, and a longer lifespan. Get married or find a lifetime companion. Marriage and long-term relationships have been shown to reduce illnesses and increase longevity. People with healthy sex lives also have increased longevity and decreased depression rates.

Where can I go to learn more about the issues discussed in this book?

The resources listed here are what I recommend to my patients during the course of their treatment. Accessing them can provide you with a foundation of organizations, information, and sources that I hope will help you in your quest for sexual wellness and vitality. Enjoy the lifelong journey.

People with healthy sex lives also have increased longevity and decreased depression rates.

Some Important Websites

Southern California Center for Sexual Health and Survivorship Medicine: thesexualhealthcenter.com (949) 764-9300

Dr. Krychman accepts all major health insurances and sees patients from all over California, the United States, and the world. Please call to schedule an appointment or to address your concerns.

Alexander Foundation: thealexanderfoundation.com

American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy: aamft.org

American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors and Therapists: aasect.org

American Cancer Society: cancer.org

American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology: acog.org

American Society for Reproductive Medicine: asrm.org

Black Women's Health Imperative: blackwomenshealth.org

Condomania: condomania.com

Contraception Online: contraceptiononline.org

Female Sexual Dysfunction Online: femalesexualdysfunctiononline.org

Gay and Lesbian Medical Association: glma.org

Good Vibrations: goodvibes.com

International Academy of Sex Research: iasr.org

International Society for the Study of Women's Sexual Health: isswsh.org

Kinsey Institute: kinseyinstitute.org

Lesbian Health Research Center: lesbianhealthinfo.org

Mautner Project: mautnerproject.org

National Sexuality Resource Center: nsrc.sfsu.edu

National Vulvodynia Association: nva.org

North American Menopause Society: menopause.org

Sexual Health Network: sexualhealth.com

Society for Sex Therapy and Research (SSTAR): sstarnet.org

Women's Sexual Health Foundation: twshf.org

 
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