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Enjoy a healthier, safer sex life with these simple suggestions.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 20 million Americans are infected with common sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) each year. The more sexual activity you have, the higher the risk of contracting one or more of these diseases. Use condoms to guard against herpes, chlamydia, gonorrhea, syphilis, HIV, and other STDs. Condoms also protect against unintended pregnancy.
Doctors differ on the guidance they give male patients when it comes to STD screenings. Most do not recommend an annual test, but if you have had unprotected sex with more than one partner in a year (male or female), be honest with your doctor. Talk to them about getting an STD screening. Some doctors will want to conduct an HIV test as well. Resist the urge to bury your head in the sand. Most STDs, including HIV, can be treated with modern drugs. Not all STD infections will yield noticeable symptoms, but they can still damage your health and can be passed on to unwitting partners.
If you are ready to father a child, keep in mind that the health of both partners affects the success of efforts to conceive. A recent study suggests that obese and overweight men tend to have lower sperm counts and poorer sperm quality than leaner men. It is believed that body fat — in particular abdominal fat — alters your levels of testosterone and other reproductive hormones. In addition to affecting fertility, obesity may also bring about erectile dysfunction.
When you are finished having children or if you decide you do not want any, you might consider talking to your doctor about a vasectomy. A vasectomy is a simple surgery that severs the tubes that carry sperm from the testicles into the semen. It is nearly 100 percent effective as a birth control method after a few months. If circumstances change, it is often reversible with an additional surgical procedure. The highest rates of reversal success are usually achieved within 10 years of initial vasectomy.
Although the drop in sex hormones is more dramatic among women undergoing menopause, men also experience changes in hormone levels as they age. The age-associated drop in hormones such as testosterone is known as male menopause.
Female menopause marks the end of ovulation and features a drastic drop in estrogen. The drop in male hormones (most notably testosterone) is more gradual.
For men, changes in sexual function and desire, energy level, muscle mass, bone density, and mood are usually subtle and may go unnoticed. Some men may experience a dramatic decline in testosterone production, which leads to a condition known as hypogonadism. Again, obesity may influence the likelihood that a man will experience this problem. In such cases, doctors may prescribe testosterone replacement therapy.
Premature ejaculation, or reaching climax earlier than you would like, is an occasional occurrence for many men. If it occurs regularly, talk to your doctor. Both physical and psychological factors could be at play. Your doctor can work with you to sort this out.
This is also true of the most common sexual problem in men; erectile dysfunction. If you cannot reach and maintain an erection suitable for successful intercourse, you may have erectile dysfunction (ED). Treatment might include medications or other remedies. In some cases, it may be necessary to address another health condition. Examples include high blood pressure, diabetes, tobacco use, or heart disease.
Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Medically reviewed on: Aug 14, 2014: George Krucik, MD, MBA
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