Sexuality is a very vital component of physical and emotional intimacy that women and men experience throughout their active lives. Female sexual dysfunction and male erectile failure increase with an individual’s age. About 30 percent of older adults have at least a single complaint with their sexual function. However, about three-quarters of the older adults still expresses their interest to maintain their proper sexual function. Certain normal transformation tends to occur with aging, for example, in older men requiring more time and stimulation to obtain a complete erection. (Robert C. Dean, 2005)
In as much as sexual dysfunction is related to aging, it is important not to rule out the possibility of disease conditions or medication side effects as being related to sexual dysfunction. The most prevalent pathological disorders related to sexual dysfunction include lower urinary tract symptoms, diabetes, depression, and cardiovascular disorders. It has been established that the occurrence of erectile dysfunction can be reduced through early control of cardiovascular risk factors that help in improving endothelial function. And that modification of lifestyle-related risk factors such as obesity and treatment of the predisposing disorders may help curb sexual dysfunction in the elderly.
Both chronic and acute conditions cause sexual dysfunction and decreased sexual interest. Pathological disorders lower tolerance to physical activity and mobility thus minimizing sexual desire. Cardiovascular disorders are the main cause of morbidity in older adults and more often associated with sexual dysfunction. The vascular system and the neurological systems should be intact for normal arousal in women and erection in men, however, the elderly often experience neurological degenerations. (Robert C. Dean, 2005)
The pathophysiology of erectile dysfunction can then be classified into; psychogenic dysfunction which is the most common. Psychogenic dysfunction occurs through alteration of the brain areas that control sexual behaviors such as the limbic system, hypothalamus, and cerebral cortex. The other classifications include the neurogenic (affecting the pudendal and cavernous nerves, spinal cord, and brain.), endocrinologic as a result of hypogonadism that occurs with old age, and arteriogenic such as structural changes, impaired endothelium-dependent vasodilation, and vasoconstriction. Diabetes has also been massively associated with sexual dysfunction among the elderly since these conditions seriously affect the vascular system. (Robert C. Dean, 2005)
Nutritional factors that affect immune systems
Older adults tend to develop nutritional deficiencies due to poor appetite caused by chronic conditions, loneliness, depression, or multiple medications that cause interference with normal nutrient absorption. Nutrient deficiency even a single nutrient may lead to alteration in the body’s immune response. Studies have indicated that deficiencies in selenium, iron, zinc, folic acid, copper, and vitamins can cause alteration in the immune response. The poorly nourished are therefore at a greater risk of infections. (CHAN)
Psychological factors that affect immune response among the elderly.
Studies carried on brain behavior and immunity indicates the correlation between psychopathology and personality to immunity, changes in immune responses induced by stress, and the behavioral conditioning of immunity. Empirical evidence suggests that psychological processes can impinge upon modulating immune responses. This is shown by a revelation of the fact that immune competence is malleable, a fact validated by the differences in responsiveness of cell functioning in elderly and young people. Older adults’ unstable psychological conditions, therefore, predispose them to immune incompetency. (Christopher L. Coe, 2017)
How drugs and alternative and complementary medications affect the immune system.
It has been realized that Complementary and Alternative medicine (CAM) is effective in boosting immune response. CAM, curcumin, and polyphenolic compounds obtained from common food colorant turmeric can enhance the antibody’s responses even at low doses. some drugs can, however, cause considerable damage to many systems including the immune system through intoxication. (Nilashi, 2020)
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Cardiovascular diseases and osteoporosis as well as dementia are the common chronic conditions that occur in adults especially those at the age of above 85 years. There are many other conditions as well that affect adults even those not at old age. In this study, we will focus on those pathological conditions that affect that affect the sexual responses in older adults, whether or not the nutritional factors, psychological factors, drugs as well as complementary and alternative medications affect the immune system in older adults.
The sexual disorders include; one lacking sexual desires or not having any interest for sex. The person develops disorders in arousal process, meaning the person cannot be physical aroused or even get excited during sex. There is also a problem when it comes to orgasm, that is, the person can delay or even absence of orgasm. There are those who also experience pain during sex, a condition referred to as pain disorder. The conditions that affect the sexual response in adults are grouped into two categories, the physical causes and psychological causes.
There are many physical or medical conditions that can affect the sexual response in older adults; they include conditions such as diabetes, heart as well as vascular diseases, the neurological disorders, the hormonal imbalances, some chronic infections such as liver and kidney failure. Alcoholism as well as drug abuse can also affect the sexual conditions in adults.
There are also some medications that may have side effects like the side effects of antidepressants that can affect the sexual function. Some antidepressants can reduce the sexual desire and this can interfere with one’s ability to orgasm, examples of these drugs are Prozac and Zoloft. These same effects can as well occur with SNRI antidepressants such as cymbalta. Other medications that can as well affect the sexual desire are the drugs to curb anxiety like diazepam, the antifungal like ketoconazole, the blood for blood pressure like the atenolol as well as the heartburn drugs such as famotidine (Obos 2014).
The psychological conditions are mainly the work related problems such as stress, being anxious, some are concerns on sexual performance, the marital as well as problems related to relationships, depression, the guilt feeling, having concerns on the body image and also being affected by the past sexual trauma can also lead to effects on sexual response among adults.
In the line of nutrition, there are also foods that can reduce ones sex drive, they make one to have a reduction in the level of sex demand. This foods include, processed food like bread, diet soda, the microwave popcorns, marijuana as a food and drug, shrimps, alcohol as a drug especially beer, edamame, cheese, sugar, canned soup, licorice and many others just to mention but a few (Stoddard 2017).
To conclude, from the research, it is clear that drugs, nutrition, the psychological factors as well as medications can affect the sex response of a person. The effects can be positive or negative effects, a person can either have high desire for sex or low desire for sex. One can even end up not in need of sex at all. The best way to know if what you eat or the medications you take affect your sexual desire is by continuous monitoring of what you take and the effects it’s having on you with time.
Grant Stoddard, (2017), 27 Foods that Kill your Sex Drive.
Obos Sexuality and Relationship Contributors, (2014), Medications that can affect sexual desire and pleasure.
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