Low sex drive? You could be twice as likely to die prematurely

Study that should arouse concern: Men with low libido are twice as likely to suffer an early death, scientists find

  • Men with low sex drive were nearly twice as like to die of cancer and heart issues 
  • The same link was not found with women despite their higher rate of low libido
  • This is the first study to examine a link between sexual interest and longevity  

Men with low libido are up to twice as likely to suffer an early death than their peers, a study suggests.

Researchers say a persistent lack of sexual interest can be a sign of poor habits like smoking, drinking or overeating – which raise the risk of chronic disease.

They looked at the medical records and survey answers of more than 20,000 men and women in Japan for over a decade.

Results showed males over 40 who had low libido were nearly twice as likely to die from cancer, while the risk of a heart disease death was one-and-a-half times greater.

The findings remained true even after the scientists accounted for smoking, alcohol use, BMI, underlying health conditions, exercise levels and other variables. The scientists speculate that poor lifestyle habits reduced men’s sex drives.

Japanese scientists established a link between poorer longevity and lower sex drive in men, though they did not reach the same conclusion when looking at the sex drives of women

All-cause mortality was associated with lower sexual interest. People with lower interest in sex were 1.82 times more likely than people with health sex drives to die of all causes

Studies show an active sex life could be as important as watching your diet, moderating alcohol intake and quitting smoking to boost health.

A study published in the journal Fertility and Sterility showed that sexual activity at least three times a month was linked with a milder Covid-19 infection. The theory is that it primes the body to handle pathogens more effectively.

Another study suggested that orgasms can clear a stuffed-up nose as effectively as a nasal spray — probably because exercise has also been shown to be a decongestant, as the resulting increase in body temperature loosens mucus while the increase in circulation encourages the flow of nasal discharge. 

The study authors from Yamagata University said: ‘Although sexual activity and sexual satisfaction are considered of benefit to psychological health and wellbeing in older groups, the association between sexual interest and longevity has not been investigated. 

‘This study is the first to prospectively examine associations between sexual interest and all-cause mortality, and cardiovascular and cancer mortality in a community-based population.’ 



Low libido was linked with greater mortality due to cancer. People with lower libido were nearly twice as likely to die of cancer than those with healthy interest in sex

Low rates of sexual interest were linked with higher mortality linked to cardiovascular complications. People with low sex drives were 1.36 times as likely to die of a heart issue. 

 The study, published in the journal PLOS One, was the first to study the association between libido and mortality.

The scientists wrote: ‘Although sexual activity and sexual satisfaction are considered of benefit to psychological health and wellbeing in older groups, the association between sexual interest and longevity has not been investigated.’

In the sample of 20,969 people – 8,558 males and 12,411 females – the scientists studied the results of people’s health check-ins during which they were asked to fill out sexual interest questionnaires. 

Women in the study were more than twice as likely to report lower libido, yet scientists did not establish a link between that and mortality.

People who reported a lack of interest in sex trended older, were more likely to drink more, had diabetes, laughed less, experienced some kind of psychological distress, and had lower levels of education.

Men with lower sex drive were also more like to report lacking ‘ikigai’, a Japanese term for a reason for living, or the joy and goal of having a life worth living.

‘Based on these results, we speculate that maintaining sexual interest may be related to positive psychological well-being and ‘ikigai’ especially among men,’ scientists wrote.

While they did not pinpoint the reason for the link between longevity and libido, their findings support established science to support the notion that a healthy sex life contributes to better health overall.

The benefits of sex are wide ranging and can improve sleep, bolster the immune system, tamp down depression and anxiety, and improve heart health.

Still, ‘further study is required to clarify the mechanisms which underlie the preventive effects of sexual interest on mortality,’ the scientists concluded.

The study had a major caveat. It focused on a relatively small population in a single region of Japan, meaning the findings may not apply to the rest of the globe.

While many developed countries such as Canada promote sexual health as a key for seniors to stay healthy, other countries including Japan has ‘more prejudice about sex among the elderly than in the Western world’.

‘We hope our findings will help promote public health through advocating sexuality in Japan,’ they said.

The many benefits of a healthy sex life 

1. A stronger immune system

Having sex once or twice a week increases our antibody levels by 30 per cent.

This is thought to be due to sexually active people being more exposed to bacteria and viruses, resulting in greater antibody release.

2. Better heart health

Getting active between the sheets increases your heart rate, which peaks during an orgasm.

Men in their 50s who have sex at least twice a week have a 45 per cent reduced risk of heart disease.

3. Lower blood pressure

A study by Michigan State University found women aged between 57 and 85 who still enjoyed sex were less likely to have high blood pressure.

5. A reduced risk of prostate cancer

Men who ejaculate at least 21 times a month are a third less likely to develop the disease than men who only release four to seven times.

Frequent ejaculation may allow the prostate to clear out cancer-causing substances or it may prevent the development of calcium deposits, which are associated with prostate cancer.

6. A restful sleep

Sex releases a cocktail of chemicals in the brain, including oxytocin and prolactin.

7. Less stress 

People who had recently had sex had lower blood pressure when public speaking than those who had not had intercourse in the past fortnight.

8. A sharper memory

Frequent sex may improve women’s memories. Scientists at McGill University in Canada found women who had recently had sex were better able to remember abstract words in a word-memory task.

Sex may stimulate the development of neurons in the part of the brain involved in learning and memory.

9. A longer life

Researchers from the universities of Bristol and Belfast found that the risk of death was reduced in men who orgasm frequently over those who do not regularly ejaculate.

10. Stronger self-worth

Aside from its numerous physical benefits, regular sex may also boost our mental wellbeing.

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