Sunday, April 30, 2017

Sex and the Aging Woman

As women, we go through many changes with our hormones over the years, from the time that our menstrual cycle starts in our teens or pre-teens, to the time that it ends, post menopause. Most of us maneuver our sex lives around our cycle, for obvious reasons. And there are many other things that can affect our desire over the years, from child-bearing, to child-rearing, to PMS, to every-day stressors, to our jobs, to relationships, to menopause, etc., etc.

As we age, we go through health issues like fibroid tumors, that can cause pain and severe bleeding; to increased risks of many cancers of our reproductive system; to many other ailments that the recommendation to resolve them is a hysterectomy. For me, a hysterectomy would be the last remedy that I would ever resort to for any ailment, or to save my life; but for some a hysterectomy is a blessing.

There are three types of Hysterectomy's:
  1. Partial hysterectomy - The upper part of the uterus is removed, but the cervix is left in place. 
  2. Total hysterectomy - The entire uterus, including the cervix, is removed.
  3. Radical hysterectomy - The uterus and the ligaments that hold it in place are removed. The cervix and an inch or two around the vagina are removed. After the cervix is removed, the surgeon stitches the top of the vagina. It will soon seal with scar tissue and become a closed tube. The vagina does not become an open tunnel into the pelvis, like some women fear (ACS, 2017).
The ovaries and fallopian tubes, may or may not be removed, depending on the reason for the hysterectomy. Even leaving one ovary can prevent a woman from going through early menopause, because it can produce enough hormones. Leaving the ovaries are also important for keeping the sex drive intact.

A hysterectomy shortens the vagina, and may cause numbness in the genital area. There are many things that couples can do to continue a healthy sexual relationship after a hysterectomy; although many physical and psychological issues can occur for women after a hysterectomy, and if so, it's important to talk to your doctor, and possibly go into therapy.

Some women have happier and healthier sex lives after hysterectomy, so it doesn't affect all women the same.

FUN FACT
The soul purpose of 
the clitoris 
is pleasure, for women!!! 
😊

Menopause is the stages that a woman goes through at the end of her reproductive years. The end result is that her body can no longer make a baby. This natural process can take up to 10 years, and on average starts around the age of 52. Perimenopause is the onset of menopause and the years leading up to the final stages of menopause. Some women are mildly affected by menopause and some women are severely affected by menopause. The effects can be physical and/or mental, and these things can affect our sex lives.

The physical effects of menopause can include vaginal dryness, painful intercourse, and a diminished sex drive. These issues should be discussed with a doctor, because there are treatments for these issues. Some women have a more fulfilling sex life Post-menopause, because they no longer have to deal with PMS and periods, or the mood swings that may come with that. They no longer have to worry about getting pregnant, and that's a great burden that's lifted for many. Post-menopause, you're usually at a stage of your life when you have a lot less inhibitions, and a lot more wisdom about sex and life in general, so that can add to sexual gratification.

There are other things that women go through during menopause that can affect their relationship with there partners. It's important for men to know and understand the possible effects of menopause, so that they are more able to be supportive and understanding.

Many women go through hot flashes, which is when our body temperature is no longer controlled by our internal system, because of a loss of estrogen; this is a natural part of menopause. Some of us get night sweats and end up with damp (to wet) pillows, sheets and night clothes. We can go from hot to cold to hot again within minutes, at any time during the day or night. This can be very annoying, and for some, unbearable. There are some remedies for this so make sure to talk to your doctor if this is unbearable.

A few things that we can do to help ease the night sweats are to keep a fan on near our side of the bed, wear lightweight cotton night clothes, use only a top sheet to cover us, and keep the temperature cool. Drink plenty of water, and keep some on the nightstand just in case you need it in the middle of the night.

Vaginal dryness is another symptom caused by the loss of estrogen. There are many different types of lubricants that you can get over the counter, and there are some remedies that your doctor can prescribe if necessary, so talk to your doctor about it. But in the meantime, check out the foods below that aid in having a healthy vagina. A few of them help to naturally increase vaginal moisture.

Depression can happen because of the hormonal changes and imbalances that we experience, during perimenopause. This is something that I've experienced, but have thankfully overcome. It took some focus on what I needed to do, in order to help get myself through it. I began to learn Tai Chi, which is good for meditation and relaxation; Yoga is great for this too. I also continued my workouts, which are important during any spells of depression. Working out releases endorphins, which are natural feel good chemicals that trigger positive feelings in the body.

I also decided at this time to learn to speak Italian. I've been wanting to learn a new language, and this gave me something else to focus on. Planning a trip to Italy was also something that I focused on, and gave me pangs of excitement through anticipation. All of these little jolts of feel goods and excitement, along with meditation and relaxation exercises, helped to get me through my depression, and now I feel better than ever. 😊

Emotional instability. You may become overly sensitive to things that didn't really bother or move you before. This can make socializing a bit more challenging. You may cry about things that normally don't make you cry; or you may get angry at things that you have no right or reason to get angry at. These things can become confusing, and even a bit scary until you realize that this is a symptom of menopause; but if this becomes more than you can handle, talk to your doctor.

FUN FACT
The clitoris has
8000
nerve endings!!!
WOW!!! 😲

Eating the right foods and beverages can keep your vagina healthy, stave off infections, ease discomfort, and even spice things up in the bedroom. Here are some foods that your vagina will thank you for eating:

  • Green Tea (catechins) - Helps fight UTI infections. 
  • Salmon and Tuna (Omega 3 fatty acids) - Helps relieve cramping.
  • Yogurt, sauerkraut, kimchi, miso, and tempeh (Pro-biotics) - For fewer yeast infections by helping to keep a healthy PH balance in your vagina.
  • Organic edamame, tofu, or tempeh (isoflavins) - For vaginal dryness. They mimic estrogen, and the lack of this hormone causes vaginal dryness.
  • Apples (phloridzin <which mimics the female sex hormone estradiol> and polyphenols <helps boost blood flow to vaginal tissue>) - For more fun in bed due to higher levels of lubrication and sexual function.

FUN FACT
During sexual intercourse 
the vagina swells to 
4 to 8 inches in length 
and 2.5 inches wide.


Throughout our lives, we as women go through many hormonal changes and fluctuations. Post-menopause is a phase in life to look forward to having relief from these changes. We can have more fulfilling sex lives, by no longer having to deal with the mood changes, our menstrual cycles, and birth control concerns. It's important to maintain good health by eating well, and working out regularly so that we can enjoy our years post-menopause. And remember that the more sex that we have as we age, the better our sexual organs work, so ENJOY!!! 😊

(Please access my references for more detailed information on my subjects.)

Talk to you all next time!!!

References

ACOG. (2015, March). Hysterectomy. Acog.org. 
     Retrieved from http://www.acog.org/Patients/FAQs/Hysterectomy
     #structures

American Cancer Society. (2017, January 12). Surgery can affect a woman's
     sex life. Cancer.org. Retrieved from https://www.cancer.org/treatments/
     treatments.../radical-hysterectomy.html

How Stuff Works. (2017). The ultimate sex quiz. Howstuffworks.com
     Retrieved from http://quizzes.howstuffworks.com/quiz/sex-quiz

Taylor, M. (2016 June, 2). 12 foods your vagina wants you to eat.
     Womenshealthmag.com Retrieved from http://www.womenshealth
     mag.com/food/foods-for-healthy-vagina/slide/4

WebMD. (2017). Exercise and depression. WebMD.com. 
     Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/depression/guide
     /exercise-depression#1

Pic by pixabay.com

Uterus pic Retrieved from https://medlineplus.gov/ency/imagepages/19263.htm


Sunday, April 23, 2017

Sex and the Aging Man

As we all age, sex is another activity that is usually affected. The issues are different for men and for women, so I'm writing separate articles for each.

Sexual activity is an important, positive activity for men and women as we age. It affects our mental health as well as our physical health. Sex relieves stress, hinders depression, and strengthens relationships and intimacy.

There are many other positive aspects to sexual activity, but as we age many accept that it's natural for desire to decrease. And even though decreased desire IS natural as we age (sometimes it can be the opposite for women, and I will explain that in my next blog), we shouldn't accept allowing it to diminish or to become a job to please our partners. There's no reason in the world to accept sex as anything less than pleasurable as we age, and this blog is dedicated to helping you get to, or get back to, that pleasure. 💕

FUN FACT
Male ejaculate can travel 
up to 8 feet
during orgasm!!! 👀

Your penis is a barometer to your health. If it isn't working correctly, more likely than not you have a health problem. Here are some of the signs of a bigger health issue:
  • Your going soft a lot- Going soft more than twice a month could be a sign of potential heart disease. The risk of getting heart disease is up to 65% higher in men with erectile dysfunction, according to an Austrian study (Fowler, 2014).
  • Your pee has gone from yellow to red - "Blood can be a sign of prostate, bladder, or kidney disease, so you need to find out where the blood is coming from," according to Dr. Billups. But if your semen is bloody during sexual activity, deadly danger is less likely, says Eric Klein, MD. Although, it could be a sign of prostatitis, which can be treated with antibiotics. So, if you have blood in your urine, go see a doctor.
  • Your sex drive has been stuck in neutral - Obstructive Sleep Apnea (OSA) might be reducing your sex drive. OSA can reduce testosterone, which can affect your erections. If your snoring is loud, if you gasp for air when you awaken, or if you're feeling exhausted during the day, ask your doctor about having you tested for OSA.
  • You see that the tip is red and swollen - Inflammation, redness, and pain can be a sign of balanitis. Balanitis is usually caused by bacteria, viruses, or fungi, and is usually because of hygiene that is less than stellar, according to Dr. Paduch. You may be prescribed an over the counter antifungal, prescription antibiotics, or steroid cream. Diabetics are three times as likely to get balanitis, so be sure to get tested for diabetes. 
  • You notice it doesn't feel as sensitive as before - This can be the sign of a poor diet, low blood sugar, or diabetes. Make sure that you're getting enough vitamin B12 (2.4 micrograms), and folate (400 micrograms). Deficiencies in these vitamins can prevent nerve fibers in your penis, from sending signals to your brain. Low blood sugar from 8 hours of fasting can even effect penile sensitivity, according to Dr. Paduch. So if you feel a little numb, eat some clams or beef, or drink some milk to get B12 in your system, and eat some green leafy vegetables and black-eyed peas to get some folate in your system. Hopefully, your penis will start communicating with your brain again; otherwise, go to see your doctor.
  • You have to urinate more often than usual - Benign Prostatic Hyperplasia (BPH) is probably the culprit. This condition rarely causes symptoms before 40 years of age, but affects up to 90 percent of men in their 70's and 80's. An enlarged prostate presses on the tube that carries urine out of your body, giving you that "gotta go" feeling. Your doctor can prescribe medications to alleviate this annoying feeling, by relaxing the muscles in your prostate.
  • You produce less ejaculate or can't orgasm - Low testosterone could be the culprit, and the cause could be sitting right in your medicine cabinet. If you take Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors (SSRI's) for depression, about 1/3 of men who take them experience difficulty reaching orgasm, according to researchers in Iran. Ask your doctor about changing your dose, or switching medications.
  • Your erection is curving at a strange angle - 23 percent of men ages 40 and over get Peyronies disease. This condition can cause an erect penis to bend in any direction at an angle of 30 degrees or more. This can be genetic, or a sign of too much or too little sexual activity. You should seek treatment within 24 hours, and consider getting a blood sugar text. High levels of glucose could cause plaque to form in your penis, which can lead to this issue (Fowler, 2014). 

Erectile Dysfunction ED is a big problem as men age. Although there are many reasons and remedies for this issue, I would like to say that as we age, many of the things that use to get us aroused, no longer do; please remember this. A male friend of mine enlightened me to this fact about men, but it's the same for women. Try some new things, in new places, with a more open mind, and less inhibitions. Who knows, this may be all that it takes to rev up your libido. Eating healthier and working out will also help with sex drive. Getting your health under control is paramount. Try some blueberry and blackberry smoothies (there are compounds in these berries, that have a viagra-like effect), and start adding these berries to your oatmeal, or some plain yogurt.

I have found that many times we have to fight for our own health, and stop leaving such an important part of our existence in the hands of doctors only. Do as much research as you can about your issues, and work to resolve them yourself, along with your doctors help and care.

Here are some foods that will help keep your penis working better, and maybe even prevent the issue altogether:
  • Watermelon
  • Oysters
  • Coffee
  • Dark Chocolate
  • Nuts
  • Grape or Pomegranate Juice
  • Garlic
  • Salmon, sardines, albacore tuna, makerel
  • Kale and other leafy green vegetables
  • Chili peppers (cayenne, jalapeno's, habanero's, and other peppers)
  • Olive oil (WebMD, 2015).

FUN FACT
Ejaculate moves through the urethra 
to the penis at about
28 miles per hour!!! 💨💨💨


Premature Ejaculation is another problem for some men. About 1/3 of men ages 18 to 59 have issues with PE. Here are a few ways to outsmart PE:

  • Wear a condom - A condom can create a barrier that decreases sensation, and helps sex to last longer.
  • Use a desensitizing condom - Try a performance enhancing condom, which contains a numbing agent inside of the condom. (If you have erectile problems, or very sensitive skin, these condoms may not be your best choice. If your not sure, try using one during masturbation, before trying to use it with a partner.) These condoms can be helpful to many men, by helping them to last a few minutes longer.
  • Try the stop-start or squeeze techniques - This takes a bit of time and focus, but this technique has been around and recommended for quite a while. 
    • Stop-start or Squeeze: Stimulate your penis until just before the "point of no return", then stop all stimulation, OR gently squeeze the head of the penis. Wait for arousal to decrease slightly, then start all over again. Repeat once more, then on the third time, allow yourself to ejaculate. In time, this will teach you how to hold your imminent ejaculation, and help you to last longer.
  • Consider SSRI antidepressants - Men who have problems with premature ejaculation find that SSRI's help to delay ejaculation by several minutes, although men who are prescribed SSRI's for depression, sometimes have problems ejaculating. Speak to a health professional who is experienced in treating male ejaculatory issues, to see if this is the right treatment for you.
  • Expand your sexual experience - Many men find it hard to believe that many women are okay with shorter bouts of sexual intercourse. If you understand that intercourse can be demanding on a woman's body, maybe you'll be more inclined to believe her; and you should BELIEVE HER. Just make sure that you make it about pleasing her. Ask her what gives her the most pleasure, or makes her orgasm. Maybe it's oral sex. Or maybe it's stimulating her with a vibrator or your fingers. Or maybe it's kissing, or making out for 10 to 20 minutes before intercourse. Or if she doesn't know, try reading up on different techniques that please most women, and have fun trying them out on her. Hopefully, you'll help her find out what pleasures her, and enjoy yourselves while exploring (Herbenick, 2010).

"Men who ejaculate 21 times 
or more per month reduce 
the likelihood of prostate cancer 
by at least 19% (Niemiec, 2016)."

Here are some fun, and informative, facts about your penis that you just might want to know:

~The average size of an erect penis is
 5.2 inches in length, and 4.6 inches in girth.~

~It should get hard 3 to 5 times a night.
 Nighttime erections keep it healthy.~

~The most sensitive spot is the frenulum,
or the foreskin if you have one.~

~Cold temperatures can make
it shrink by 50 percent.~

~You really CAN break it.~

~Smoking can shorten it by a centimeter.~

(Men's Health, 2016).


Here are some of the best foods for great sex according to sex experts, cardiologists and psychologists; and the pro-sex nutrients, etc. that make them so.

  • Spinach and other green vegetables - Magnesium and folate
  • Unsweetened tea - Catechin
  • Peaches and other orange fruits - Vitamin C
  • Eggs - B5 and B6 vitamins
  • Red wine - Antioxidants and alcohol
  • Red meats - Zinc
  • Seeds and Nuts - Monounsaturated fats
  • Beans - Protein
  • Fatty fish (like salmon) - Omega 3 fatty acids
  • Oatmeal and other whole grains - L-arginine
  • Oysters and other shellfish - Zinc
  • Dark chocolate - Phenylethylamine
  • Strawberries - Folate and vitamin C
  • Blueberries and blackberries - Compounds that have a viagra-like effect (Men's Health,2013).

Wow! All I can say is that I've learned a lot researching for this blog. I know that men are notorious for hating going to any doctor, but as you see if you have an issue with your sex drive, many things are health related. If you don't do it for you, do it for your significant other. And if that's not a strong enough reason, do it for your family. Your health and life might just depend on it!!!

(Please be sure to check out the articles in my references for more detailed information about your sexual health. Stay informed!)

Talk to you all next time! This was fun!!! 😀

References

Eaves, A. (2014, July 18). The best age for sex: have you peaked?
     Menshealth.com Retrieved from http://www.menshealth.com/
     sex-women/best-age-sex

Fowler, P. (2014, September 29). 8 ways your penis speaks for your health.
     Menshealth.com Retrieved from http://www.menshealth.com/health/penis
     -health-issues

Heid, M. (2015, February 6). How to last longer in bed. Menshealth.com
     Retrieved from http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/have-sex-for-
     an-hour

Herbenick, D. (2010, April 25). 5 ways to outsmart premature ejaculation.
     Retrieved from http://www.menshealth.com/sex-women/how-to-outsmart
     -premature-ejaculation?internal_recirc=outbrain_arr

Men's Health (2013, October 9). The best foods for great sex.
     Menshealth.com Retrieved from http://www.menshealth.com
     /sex-women/better-sex-foods

Men's Health. (2016). 6 things every man should know about his penis.
     Menshealth.com. Retrieved from http://www.menshealth.com/sex-
     women/6-important-penis-facts

Niemiec, M. (2016, May 10). Why you should ejaculate at least 21 times this
     month, according to science. Menshealth.com. Retrieved from http://www.
     menshealth.com/health/ejaculation-and-prostate-cancer-risk?

WebMD. (2015, July 22). Foods to help erectile dysfunction. WebMD.com.
     Retrieved from http://www.webmd.com/erectile-dysfunction/ss/slideshow
     -foods-erectile-dysfunction?

Photo by Pixabay

Sunday, April 2, 2017

Life Liquid: Water

WATER is the liquid of LIFE! Getting fluids in our bodies is important by almost any means, but just plain WATER is the best way to hydrate for everyday life. Athletes, or doing athletic things like running marathons, require making sure that your getting enough electrolytes with your WATER, but for normal everyday activities, WATER is our optimum hydrator.

As healthy adults, our bodies are made up of 50% to 70% fluid; every cell in our bodies contain fluid. Body fluid varies depending on age and gender. An average male will have a higher body fluid content than an average female, and that's because men naturally have leaner muscle mass than females. As we age, our total amount of body fluid decreases. An infants body weight is about 75% WATER, while an elderly persons body weight is made up of less than 50% WATER. This is the result of loss lean tissue as we age (Pruitt, 2009). And this is another indicator of the importance of resistance training as we age.

One of the first things that we should do when we wake up in the morning, is drink a glass of WATER. We become a bit dehydrated when we sleep all night, and WATER can give us that initial boost of energy in the morning by re-hydrating us. Re-hydration includes re-hydrating our organs, and our brains.

WATER can solve many health issues that we don't even think about. The first thing that we should do when we're not feeling well is drink a glass or bottle of WATER. WATER also keeps us regular and can prevent constipation. As a matter of fact, when we become a little "backed up", WATER should be the first remedy that we try.

When we get a cold or the flu, WATER and rest are the top remedies for combating these viruses. All of those medications on the market are for treating the symptoms of a cold and the flu; they do not help to get rid of them. Certain anti-viral medicines may help to shorten the length of them, if taken early on, but fluids and rest are the most important ways to combat these viruses. It's even more important if we have a fever, because our bodies can lose even more fluid through sweating. This can result in becoming dehydrated, which can cause dizziness or even fainting.

Having a stomach virus is another way to become dehydrated, although this is another time when you may want to replace your electrolytes too (Many people go for Gatorade and other sports drinks, but Pedialyte is widely recommended, even for adults). Otherwise, you may just end up in the hospital hooked up to an IV.

Some other reasons to drink plain WATER are:

  • It increases energy and relieves fatigue
  • Promotes weight loss (It's a natural appetite suppressant)
  • Flushes out toxins
  • Improves skin complexion (prevents wrinkles 😊)
  • Natural headache remedy (can also be caused by dehydration)
  • Prevents cramps and sprains (Phon, 2012). Whenever I get a muscle cramp, I grab a bottle of water to drink, and that usually helps to aleviate it.
  • Helps to maximize physical performance
  • Helps concentration and mood
  • Helps to prevent kidney stones
  • Helps prevent hangovers (Leech, 2017).

For me, I drink WATER before going to bed, if wake up in the middle of the night, and first thing in the morning. I stopped drinking Diet Pepsi's about 2 years (or so) ago, because of the many messages I heard and read over the years about drinking the strong drink; and replaced the several bottles a day that I used to drink, with bottles of spring water. I use to be unable to get through a work day without drinking at least 3 to 4 - 20 to 24 oz. bottles of Diet Pepsi, and this was my routine for over 20 years. I now can not get through my work day without drinking at least 3 to 4 bottles of spring water. Also, research has shown a probable tie between drinking caffeinated, carbonated drinks, and osteoporosis (Haak, 2016); and research has also shown that as you age, drinking one 20 oz soda per day, adds on 4.6 years of biological aging (Rockwood, 2016). 

Drinking soda and sugary drinks can put a lot of weight on you, if you drink them regularly. Even drinking diet soda seems to be a not so good idea, for research has shown that artificial sweeteners may trick the body and mind into thinking it's okay to eat more. The tests on artificial sweeteners have been inconclusive, but for me I've chosen to stay away from them, after using them too for over 20 years. For diabetics, it still may be a better choice than trying to use sugar, if you can't stay away altogether. 

Many people don't like the taste of WATER. Years ago, while I was nursing my health and recovering from the effects of a food allergy, I learned to just "down" my water by holding my breath and drinking as much as I could at a time. I still drink this way, and don't really taste anything unpleasant. I drink it at room temperature, in order to prevent "brain freeze" which would end up being a deterrent to drinking as much WATER as I do.  Also, sipping wouldn't be a good idea for people who don't like the taste of WATER, although many people have learned to enjoy a little lemon in it. 

All in all, just plain WATER is the best way for us to hydrate, whether that's tap WATER, spring WATER, or filtered WATER. I haven't researched which is the best, but I'm sure that depends on several factors. The bottom line is that WATER doesn't add the calories of sugary drinks, and it flushes toxins from our bodies. If you're a diabetic, or have high blood pressure, WATER helps to dilute and flush the sugars and sodium that you ingest. Just plain WATER is an optimum liquid for your body.

The amount of WATER that we should drink per day varies by opinion, but most health authorites recommend about 8-8oz. glasses (which is about a half gallon or 2 liters) per day (Gunnars, 2017). The best way to judge whether your drinking enough WATER, is the color of your urine. It should be a very pale yellow. The darker your urine, the less hydrated you are.

So, as I've said when I started this article, WATER is the liquid of LIFE! Even if you choose to drink other beverages to get your daily fluid recommendations, please find a place for a couple of glasses of just plain water per day. Just imagine that this clear, calorie-free liquid is helping to flush all of the bad stuff out of your body; and remember that it's not just imaginary. STAY HYDRATED!!!! 💧💧💧

Talk to you all next time! 😊

References

Gunnars, K. (2017). How much water should you drink per day? 
     Authoritynutrition.com. Retrieved from https://authoritynutrition.com
     /how-much-water-should-you-drink-per-day/

Haak, E. (2016, November 21). 5 surprising things that age you. Oprah.com.
     Retrieved from http://www.oprah.com/health_wellness/Surprising-Things
     -That-Age-You

Leech, J. (2017). 7 science-based health benefits of drinking enough water. 
     Authoritynutrition.com. Retrieved from https://authoritynutrition.com/
     7-health-benefits-of-water/

Phon, A. (2012, March 20). 10 reasons why you should drink more water. 
     mindbodygreen.com. Retrieved from http://www.mindbodygreen.com/
     0-4287/10-Reasons-Why-You-Should-Drink-More-Water.html

Pruitt, et el. (2009). Nutrition, Health, and Wellness An Applied Approach,
     Pg. 267.

Rockwood, K. (2016). 3 things to do now to slow down aging later. 
     Oprah.com. Retrieved from http://www.oprah.com/health/3-Things-to-
     Do-Now-to-Slow-Down-the-Aging-Process

Photo by Pixabay.com