Intimacy is something that most of us have experienced at some point in time in our life, but as we age, this intimacy becomes less frequent. One obvious reason is a decline in interest as we age, or maybe that our bodies just are not capable on some level. This intimacy may be sexual related but also extends to other aspects of our lives. While there are many reasons for that reduced intimacy or passion, are these reasons reflective of our overall health? Meaning, is the decrease in our sexual relations or overall level of passion a sign of poor health and more importantly, could the opposite be true, in that a sign of good health is a higher level of sexual relations and passion?
No two people are the same, and for some, sexual intimacy is not a major concern nor a major drive. It is not something that they must have or absolutely require in their lives. This is neither a good thing or bad thing from my perspective, but more so just a sign that the individual has some other driving force or passion in their lives, which keeps them grounded, focused, and driven, while also helping them to relax, enjoy life, and continue to evolve. This ‘passion‘ may be the key point, no matter where it is focused.
Intimacy by definition refers to ‘closeness’, which can be sexual or not. One can be intimate with another without sexual relations. A person can also be intimate with another act, such as literature, art, or even their work if it is a true passion. To me, intimacy implies that there is purpose to one’s life, a close association with something or someone.
Passion refers to a strong emotion, which may be uncontrollable at times. This passion can be a part of sexual intimacy but can also extend beyond sex and into other areas of your life.
When it comes to sexual intimacy, many studies have been done to indicate that there are obvious trends in reduction of that intimacy as we age.
- Less than 30 years of age report an average of 2 times per week (112 times per year)
- 30-39 years of age report an average of 1.5 times per week (89 times per year)
- 40-49 years of age report an average of 1.3 times per week (69 times per year)
- 50 years and up report an average of 1 time per week (52 times per year)
Now, these are just reported numbers from questionnaires, and we all know the tendency for people to fabricate just a little. Some may boast higher numbers than these, while some may cringe at their real numbers. The overall point is that the trend is a decline in sexual relations, which is obvious and generally expected for most people.
Bottom line? The numbers don’t matter. What we are referring to here is the connection with health.
In another study, looking at healthy older men, aged 45-59, it was noted that 10 years later, 150 of those men had died either due to cardiovascular events or other causes. After taking sexual activity into consideration among the group of men, it was evident that those men that reported sexual relations once monthly had twice the death rate than those men reporting sexual relations twice per week. Evidently, as the man’s sexual frequency increased, his death risk decreased.
Now, to go one step further, many would claim there were health problems in those men, such as a high cholesterol. The study evaluated this, and surprisingly, the men with the high cholesterols that experienced high frequency of sexual relations actually had a lower death risk. So, somehow, that intimacy impacted their health positively, despite a negative risk factor. (1)
Putting aside this data, you may ask what other factors are present in the act of sexual intimacy?
For starters, after sexual relations with a significant other, most people (male and female) will note a change in their state of mind and body relaxation. It is an act which in most cases allows one to set aside other troubles, even for a minute or two, and just enjoy the other person. This can create a state of euphoria for some, almost to the level of meditation for many if they truly focus. Now, this doesn’t always happen, but even a slight change in your body tension or mind can positively impact your health.
Does this just pertain to sexual relations? Nope, plain and simple. Thus, this article is not so much about sexual intimacy than it is just about the act of intimacy and passion, no matter what that may revolve around. It is the principle of intimacy which must be the end goal, whether if it is sexual or not. You could achieve extreme intimacy, focus, and elation working with wood, clay, or paper and a pencil. You could also achieve this intimacy with extreme focus, meditation, or in working a career that you truly feel passionate about and is not overwhelming or consuming to your body or mind.
Passion, Mindset, and Health
Sexual intimacy is more important to some than others. Likely, we all enjoy it on some level, right? But, as we age, that desire fades or maybe other things take it’s place, which is fine to. As mentioned above, the whole concept of having a passion and intimacy towards something is likely what is important here in regards to your health.
In my world and life, I can look back on my years and see how my relations with my wife were 25 years ago, then 15 years ago, and maybe more recently. In the early years, when we were very young, things were different and tensions released often. Then, as you age, children enter the equation, along with the general stresses of life, fighting to pay the bills, going to sports events with the children, meetings, and other ‘necessary’ events. There becomes a distance between the two adults, that maybe wasn’t there before, created out of shear distraction. In reality, your drive for sexual relations decreases due to this stress of having to do things, too many things. Or maybe that stress impacts your health to the degree that your drive is impacted negatively.
Now, in our later years, I can say that we actually enjoy good relations, reviving what was once present but forgotten about. This is a result of life changes, children growing up, and the general stresses of life either being reduced or simply forgotten. We are not as consumed as we once were, maybe. In addition, we each have other passions in our lives, mainly hobbies that we truly enjoy. Overall, I believe, both of these intimacies have resulted in improved health for both of us.
Is this renewed passion and intimacy just due to a reduction in stress? Possibly, but in reality, if I allowed it, which sometimes happen, my current life can be even more stressful than what it was 20 years ago. I think, at least for me, it is a choice to redirect focus, let go of the stresses and concerns, and smelling the roses of life. This also then translates into an altered lifestyle, regarding habits, exercise and general focus. These then all play into one another, positively impacting health, which then helps to reignite the passion we are talking about.
What I see, at least in my world and with those that I interact with, is that many have lost passion, whether if that is for their significant other or just for life in general. They have lost purpose, some would say. The grind of daily life has worn them down to the point that the overall fire has dissipated. For many of these individuals, likewise, their health may not be optimal with many having gained significant weight and becoming depressed. Some are then on various medications which are also adding to the equation, further depressing any drive for anything. Not a good situation indeed.
When you have passion for something, and truly release within it, it is a positive thing for health, whether if that is sexual or otherwise.
Why Have I Lost Passion?
I’m not a psychologist, but despite this, any of us are qualified to answer that question. You don’t need a degree in the inner workings of the mind to come up with an answer. All you need to do is settle your mind and truly contemplate the topic. Here, we are talking passion for anything, whether if that is sexual or not.
In my case, passion was misdirected, into a subject which was important but not a true passion or at least not a true passion in the manner to which I was creating it. Once this was redirected and focused properly, things changed.
Passion is a created out of a state of mind, at least in my opinion. However, despite being a state of mind, the mind is completely dependent upon body chemistry. If things are not in balance, not in a state of health in your body, then passion for anything will quickly fade. One big factor that we all contend with as we age is hormone changes, whether if that is a reduction of testosterone or estrogen. Keep in mind that both hormones are present in men and women, and likely both play a significant role in anything of passion which we pursue.
You may just accept that testosterone and estrogen decrease with age, but this does not mean that it has to happen to the same level as another, or even impact you negatively like it does another. Looking at our bodies, most things deteriorate due to inflammatory changes present, which occurs on a cellular level. Those inflammatory events are brought on by the process of aging, but are accelerated with stress and poor eating habits. So, one may be in their 30’s, with 3 children and a busy life, so consumed that they have lost passion for everything, drained to the core. Then, their mentality shifts, becoming somewhat depressed and having a ‘hell with it‘ attitude. This then leads to poor eating habits, reduced exercise, and a reduced quality of health overall. The cycle continues and progresses. Soon, that person has no drive at all, no will to live in reality, and no purpose. Likely, this then leads to a reduced longevity due to overall negative impact on the body.
Taking this into consideration, when you look at the older individuals that have a healthy sex life and intimacy, there is a distinct difference. For many, they are very aware of their bodies, watch what they eat and only eat what they know helps them physically rather than hurts them. They are active, have purpose, and often a high level of drive. They are also a lot happier. Their health and possibly increased longevity is not because they were having sex, but mainly due to their overall positive mindset. They are not hard to pick out of a crowd, and in many cases, they are the couples or individuals that many people despise on some level, which is often out of jealousy.
So, here’s the deal. To me, hormone reduction is inevitable, BUT there are things you can do to curb this and support it, whether if you are man or woman. I believe this hormone reduction is closely linked to many of our health ailments and loss of passion. It is not easily repaired in the body and if you follow medical news, it is evident that the solution is not just a testosterone injection, pill, cream or even estrogen hormone replacement. While these therapies can prove useful for many, it is not correcting the underlying theme as to WHY the hormones are decreased to begin with, at least not in most. In order to make a change, you have to change your lifestyle and your mindset.
In the world of herbs and ancient medical cultures, many herbs have been used to help rejuvenate the aging body. There are many of course, and not every one is suitable for every person, however, they can be very helpful and quite invigorating. This invigoration often helps to restart the internal fire, which then creates drive and confidence in the person, which then ignites other positive pathways in life.
In the coming weeks, we will release individual herbs for use as ‘rejuvenators’ for total body health and take time to spotlight each, getting into details. Whether if you are a man or woman, your health is often directly correlated with your overall level of passion and drive. If you see this and recognize it, then things can be corrected. It is important, for we each have a passion and purpose inside of us. There is possibly more to life that what you currently recognize. The goal is not longevity or quantity, but more so quality of life is what is important.
Author: Tom Schell, D.V.M., CVCH, CHN