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Priming the Pump

How to stay tall in the saddle


Q: I'm about to turn 45, and although I'm very healthy (I weight train four times a week and always eat clean), I've noticed that things are beginning to lag below the belt. I don't think I'm a candidate for Viagra yet. I still get erections when I need to (I have sex about once a week), but it's a little disappointing to see that my longtime buddy isn't rising to the occasion the way he used to. Could it be because my testosterone is dropping? Is this normal for men in their 40s and older? Is there anything natural I can do to pep things up a bit and make me feel more like the man I used to be?

A: Turning 45 should be no excuse for any man to lay down his sword and give up his quest for sexual nirvana. Actually, you should be drawing and sheathing your sword more often. (Sheath is a 16th-century word for vagina.) Once a week is not an optimal amount of sexual release'especially for men. And I'm speaking in terms of keeping you as healthy as possible and also to make sure you can keep on having sex for your lifetime. Lower testosterone levels are probably a contributing factor, but there are ways to fix that. You can talk to your doctor about using testosterone therapy, take pro-hormones, or, since you want to increase your levels as naturally as possible, you can start having more sex.

Normally, males have large amounts of testosterone until around the age of 25. After that testosterone levels begin to steadily decline with age, with the biggest drop occurring around the age of 50. Naturally, the best way to keep testosterone levels where they need to be is to keep becoming sexually aroused. (Note: The smell of an ovulating woman can increase testosterone levels in men up to 150 percent or more.) The arousal stage increases testosterone and gives men its benefits, such as improved energy and stamina, more muscle mass, less fat and less risk of heart disease, cancer or diabetes. Although testosterone decreases when men have orgasms, that's just Mother Nature's way of ensuring that their bodies continuously produce it.

I've written before about the negative feedback system. When the body's hormonal thermostat detects that a certain hormone is too high, it shuts down the production of that hormone. And when a certain hormone is too low, the body kicks in to produce more of it. Even so, you have to condition your body to know when to put the hormo-stat to work. A dynamic sex life is the most favorable option to guarantee optimal testosterone levels for health and well-being. The law of supply and demand is definitely at work in your testicles, the main organ that produces this vital androgen.

The American Journal of Physiology reported that decreased testosterone levels are indicated in health problems such as cancer, heart disease and diabetes. Men with low testosterone levels also report fatigue, depression, irritability, aches, pains and stiffness. A significant drop in testosterone can occur as early as age 30 in men who are under extreme stress. Seventy-four percent of men aged 30 to 80 complain of sexual dysfunction, and nearly 80 percent complain of decreased sex drive, difficulty in getting or maintaining an erection, and the fact that they rarely have early-morning erections. In America 18 percent of men are impotent by the age of 60, and by the age of 80, 75 percent or more are impotent. When impotence sets in, a man loses his enthusiasm for life, he has impaired erections, his muscles become smaller and thinner, and he can become depressed. One of the most important ways sex can improve a man's life is to give him the motivation and inspiration to be the best he can be.

According to Masters and Johnson, 'When the male is stimulated to high sexual output during his formative years and a similar tenor of activity is established for the 31-to-40-year age range, his later years are usually marked by maintained sexuality.' The reason for the maintained sexuality stems from the fact that the pump was primed for so long. The vital sex hormones were consistently produced in the formative years, and the blood vessels leading to the penis were kept clean because of the enhanced blood flow. Remember, blood engorgement of the penis (and clitoris) is what makes an erection. Proper circulation is imperative for a lifetime of woodies.

Having sex on a regular basis can ensure robust levels of testosterone coursing through your veins, but eye candy can help as well. A German study proved that looking at women's breasts for 10 minutes a day can reduce the risk of heart disease, strokes and cancer in men. So it's not just about being able to perform the act of sex. Your libido has to be up to par so that your testosterone levels will keep getting charged. So add a little eye candy and flirting as part of your testosterone therapy, but be sure you adhere to any moral limitations you may have set.

Use it or lose it. You can lose much more than just your ability to have sex. If you don't make sure that your sexual desires are robust and satisfied, you could suffer mentally, emotionally, spiritually and physically. By having sex on a regular basis, you can help prevent losing your libido, gain the benefits of testosterone and feel like a real man for the rest of your life.

Editor's note: Laura Moore is IRONMAN's resident sexpert, a science writer for Penthouse, the host of the radio talk show 'The Health Nuts' and the author of Sex Heals. Send your questions and comments to her at www.thefitdiva.com. 'Laura Moore

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