By: Dr. Shenelle N. Wilson


Sandra Goodacre, DO May 30, 2024

When men hear the term “sexual wellness”, most probably think of erectile dysfunction (ED) first. After all, ED IS QUITE COMMON, affecting roughly 40 percent of men after the age of 40 and 70 percent of men after the age of 70. However, erectile function is just a smaller piece of the larger puzzle that represents sexual health.

The truth is that healthy male sexual function relies on a wide range of factors, including proper fitness, stress management, sleep patterns, self-esteem and hormonal balance.


As the primary male sex hormone, testosterone is the most influential hormone in terms of male sexual function and overall men’s health. After the age of 30, men experience a DECREASE IN TESTOSTERONE PRODUCTION that equals roughly one percent every year. This drop in testosterone production is a form of secondary hypogonadism that is sometimes referred to as late-onset hypogonadism (LOH). The resulting symptoms are known traits of the male version of menopause, which is also known as andropause.

The low levels of testosterone that accompany andropause can lead to a wide variety of symptoms, but there are a handful of specific symptoms that can negatively affect sexual wellness in men.


Both ED and REDUCED SEX DRIVE, or libido, are two well known symptoms of the low testosterone levels that indicate when aging men are struggling with andropause. To make matters worse, these two conditions also exist in a negative feedback loop relationship wherein they have the potential to perpetually contribute to one another. ED is a known cause of reduced sex drive, and reduced sex drive can eventually lead to ED if left unchecked.


Unfortunately, not only is increased body fat a common symptom of low testosterone, but it can also lead to both reduced sex drive and ED.

Increased body fat and obesity can lead to ED on multiple fronts. Obesity on its own is a well known factor in men experiencing ED. However, some of the potential symptoms and conditions that result from increased body fat can also contribute to ED, including high blood pressure, high cholesterol, diabetes and metabolic syndrome.

As is the case with ED, increased body fat can also contribute to reduced sex drive through multiple avenues. The same negative cardiovascular effects associated with increased body fat can also contribute to a reduced sex drive.

Another facet of comprehensive wellness that can be affected by increased body fat is mental health. More specifically, increased body fat has long been recognized as a potential factor in people having low self- esteem. While physical issues like ED can affect a man’s sex drive, emotional factors weigh quite heavily on libido as well. Low self-esteem and depression can make it especially difficult to maintain a healthy sex drive.

Unfortunately, excess body fat also leads to an increased presence of aromatase, which is an enzyme that helps the body convert testosterone into estrogen. Under ideal conditions, this chemical reaction is necessary in order to promote healthy levels of estrogen in men. However, excess levels of aromatase can lead to high levels of estrogen and low levels of testosterone.

The Negative Influence of Stress

When faced with STRESSFUL SITUATIONS, the body’s adrenal glands produce two hormones: adrenaline and CORTISOL. Most people know about the effects of adrenaline and its ability to increase alertness. Cortisol, which is often referred to as the “stress hormone”, is intended to counteract the effects of adrenaline and help the body to return to stasis after stressful situations have passed. Since most tissues in the body contain glucocorticoid receptors, cortisol can influence most parts of the body, including the immune, nervous, respiratory, reproductive, cardiovascular and musculoskeletal systems.

Unfortunately, this far-reaching influence can negatively affect the body when chronic stress results in high levels of cortisol. Chronic stress can occur after repeated and extended periods of stress, and consistently high levels of cortisol have the potential to affect sexual health through multiple avenues. Some of the symptoms of high cortisol include increased body fat, high blood pressure, sleep loss and high blood sugar. If those symptoms sound familiar, that is because they can all lead to both ED and reduced libido.

As is the case with low testosterone levels, chronic stress and high cortisol levels can also have a negative effect on the emotional side of sexual health. Chronic stress has the potential to lead to anxiety and depression, both of which can affect LIBIDO and ERECTILE FUNCTION.


The fact that so many aspects of whole body health are contributing factors to healthy sexual function can put men at risk of struggling with reduced sex drive and ED. Fortunately, this also means that there are a variety of ways that men can naturally support optimal sexual wellness. In fact, improving many of these factors can further influence one another for the better.


Proper fitness and a well-balanced diet can pay massive dividends for male sexual health. It is well known that exercising and eating a full complement of fruits, vegetables, whole grains and healthy fatty acids can reduce body fat. By eliminating unhealthy levels of abdominal fat, men can support healthy levels of testosterone as well as healthy cardiovascular function.

Maintaining a healthy physique can also do wonders for a man’s self- esteem. Feeling confident in how they look and feel can reduce a man’s risk of both ED and reduced sex drive.


Maintaining consistent, healthy sleep cycles can also go a long way in supporting optimal sexual function. Poor sleep can contribute to many of the issues that can influence ED and reduced libido, especially stress. In fact, poor sleep and stress often contribute to one another in a negative feedback loop relationship.

The most effective way to naturally support healthy sleep cycles is to practice HEALTHY SLEEP HYGIENE, which is another word for sleep habits. Some of the best sleep habits include maintaining a comfortable temperature in the bedroom, keeping a consistent sleep-wake schedule and avoiding excessive alcohol consumption, large meals late in the day, the use of electronic devices in the bedroom, naps late in the day and caffeine intake.

Exercising on a daily basis can also support healthy sleep cycles through multiple avenues. Exercise, as long as it’s not close to bedtime, can help make sure that the body is tired and ready to fall asleep. Exercise can also reduce excess body fat, which can make it harder for men to fall and stay asleep. In fact, it is well known that OBESITY can lead to an increased risk of sleep apnea and other sleep issues.


Since stress can have such a negative influence on male sexual health, PROPER STRESS MANAGEMENT has the potential to support optimal sexual wellness. Some of the best techniques to reduce stress include exercise, healthy diet, deep breathing, maintaining healthy social connections and meditation.

Another helpful stress reduction technique is maintaining healthy sleep cycles. Since sleep quality and stress contribute to one another, healthy sleep and reduced stress can support one another as well. Stress and sleep are two more great examples of how men can naturally support sexual wellness from multiple fronts.


* All information subject to change. Images may contain models. Individual results are not guaranteed and may vary.