Life Extension Magazine October 2008
Reverse Aging by Restoring Youthful Sexual Function
By Eric Braverman, MD
Improving Resolution with Serotonin
Resolution is related to serotonin, another neurotransmitter. Serotonin is synthesized from the amino acid tryptophan in serotonergic neurons in the central nervous system, as well as cells in the gastrointestinal tract. Serotonin modulates anger, aggression, body temperature, mood (thus its depression-busting effects), sleep, and sexuality.23 Low serotonin levels can result in a lack of joy and decreased feelings of intimacy.
Serotonin may also play a role in the timing of sexual release. Premature ejaculation affects 20-30% of men.24 Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), which delay serotonin’s reuptake into nerve cells, may increase ejaculatory control and delay ejaculation in men with premature ejaculation.25 SSRIs have been associated with sexual dysfunction such as low libido, erectile dysfunction, and anorgasmia.26 Short-acting SSRIs are under development and might help address premature ejaculation while avoiding the unwanted sexual side effects of this class of medications.27
In common with GABA, serotonin taken orally does not pass directly into the central nervous system because it does not cross the blood-brain barrier. However, tryptophan and its metabolite 5-hydroxytryptophan (5-HTP), from which serotonin is synthesized, can and do cross the blood-brain barrier. These agents are available as dietary supplements and may help promote sexual satisfaction.
Numerous vitamins, minerals, natural treatments, and hormones can support sexual resolution in individuals who experience symptoms of low serotonin levels:
Achieving Hormonal Balance
When low levels or imbalances of hormones occur, the ability to engage in healthy sex is challenging. Sex can be unsatisfying, difficult, or even impossible. Correcting these imbalances achieves rejuvenation of the body and the brain. There is no better way to make yourself feel 15 years younger than to enjoy frequent, long-lasting sex. This will also have a welcome spin-off effect, not just in heightened sexual desire and performance, but in improvements of all health-related aspects of your life, since sexuality is a marker of overall health. Sexual activity ideally should never fall to less than once weekly if we want to stay young.
Cholesterol is a precursor of all sex hormones. Estrogen, progesterone, testosterone, pregnenolone, androstenedione, and dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) all come from cholesterol. All of these hormones in tandem play some role in sexuality. As we age, our bodies’ cholesterol levels naturally rise, but the ovaries, testicles, and adrenal glands cannot convert cholesterol into hormones. The result is reduced sexual motivation, and the typical self-image of feeling “less sexy.” In men, erectile dysfunction is a frequent result, while women tend to lose interest in sex.
A decline in the level of any hormone is neither irreparable nor permanent. Anyone can turn back the clock on their sex life. A variety of blood tests can help determine which specific hormones are low and need to be corrected and can guide dosing strategies to restore biochemical balance and rejuvenate one’s sex life. Maintaining blood levels within youthful ranges can provide great benefit with little or no risk. But remember—hormone replacement with bioidentical hormones, not synthetic hormones, is optimal for health.
In recent years, forward-thinking practitioners have turned their attention toward natural bioidentical compounds, as opposed to synthetic compounds. The molecular structures of bioidentical hormones are identical to hormones produced by the human body. Moreover, bioidentical therapies are generally free from side effects, unlike their synthetic counterparts. In fact, bioidentical hormones tend to be so safe that many are sold as over-the-counter supplements. Here is a list of some of the most important hormones affecting sexuality.
Healthy sexual function is crucial to overall well-being and longevity. It is possible to maintain youthful sexuality well into your golden years by using targeted nutritional approaches to balance neurotransmitter profiles, along with optimal hormone balance and the healthy Younger You Rainbow Diet.
If you have any questions on the scientific content of this article, please call a Life Extension Health Advisor at 1-800-226-2370.
Eric Braverman, MD is director of the Place for Achieving Total Health (PATH Medical) and clinical associate professor of neurological surgery at Weill Cornell Medical College in New York City.
For more information, please visit his website at www.pathmed.com or call 888-304-PATH.
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