Men Prone To Worry and Anxiety May Develop Heart Disease and Diabetes Risk Factors at Younger Ages

Middle-aged men who are anxious and worry more may be at greater biological risk for developing heart disease, stroke, and type 2 diabetes, also called cardiometabolic disease, as they get older, according to new research published today in the Journal of the American Heart Association, an open access journal of the American Heart Association.

This article is a repost which originally appeared on SciTechDaily

The American Heart Association - January 24, 2022
Edited for content and readability - Images sourced from Pexels
Source: DOI: 10.1161/JAHA.121.022006

Our Takeaways:

  • Heart disease and Type 2 diabetes developed earlier in life among those who reported more feelings of worry or being overwhelmed.
  • The study suggests that men prone to worry and anxiety may need to pay extra attention to cardiometabolic disease risk factors, such as maintaining a healthy weight and taking blood pressure or cholesterol medicines, if needed.
  • The findings also suggest that treating anxiety disorders may lower cardiometabolic disease risk.

“While the participants were primarily white men, our findings indicate higher levels of anxiousness or worry among men are linked to biological processes that may give rise to heart disease and metabolic conditions, and these associations may be present much earlier in life than is commonly appreciated – potentially during childhood or young adulthood,” said Lewina Lee, Ph.D., lead author of the study, an assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, and an investigator and clinical psychologist at the National Center for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder at the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, both in Boston.

To track the relationship between anxiety and cardiometabolic disease risk factors over time, the investigators analyzed data on participants in the Normative Aging Study, which is a longitudinal study of aging processes in men, founded at the U.S. Veterans Affairs outpatient clinic in Boston in 1961. The study includes both veterans and non-veterans. This analysis included 1,561 men (97% white), who were an average age of 53 years in 1975. The men completed baseline assessments of neuroticism and worry and did not have cardiovascular disease or cancer at that time. A personality inventory assessed neuroticism on a scale of 0–9. In addition, a worry assessment tool asked how often they worried about each of 20 items, with 0 meaning never and 4 meaning all the time.

“Neuroticism is a personality trait characterized by a tendency to interpret situations as threatening, stressful and/or overwhelming. Individuals with high levels of neuroticism are prone to experience negative emotions – such as fear, anxiety, sadness and anger – more intensely and more frequently,” said Lee. “Worry refers to our attempts at problem-solving around an issue whose future outcome is uncertain and potentially positive or negative. Worry can be adaptive, for example, when it leads us to constructive solutions. However, worry can also be unhealthy, especially when it becomes uncontrollable and interferes with our day-to-day functioning.”

After their baseline assessment, the men had physical exams and blood tests every 3-5 years until they either died or dropped out of the study. The research team used follow-up data through 2015. During follow-up visits, seven cardiometabolic risk factors were measured: systolic (top number) blood pressure; diastolic (bottom number) blood pressure; total cholesterol; triglycerides; obesity (assessed by body mass index); fasting blood sugar levels; and the erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR), a marker of inflammation.

A risk factor for cardiometabolic disease was considered in the high-risk range if the test results for the risk factor was higher than the cut-point established by national guidelines, or if the participant was taking any medicines to manage that risk factor (such as cholesterol-lowering medications). Cut points for ESR as a risk factor are not standardized, so the participant was ranked as high-risk if they were in the top 25% of those tested. Each participant was assigned a risk factor count score, one point for each of the seven risk factors classified as high-risk. The men were then stratified based on whether they did or did not develop six or more high-risk factors during the follow-up period.

“Having six or more high-risk cardiometabolic markers suggests that an individual is very likely to develop or has already developed cardiometabolic disease,” said Lee.

The researchers found:

  • Between ages 33 to 65, the average number of cardiometabolic high-risk factors increased by about one per decade, averaging 3.8 risk-factors by age 65, followed by a slower increase per decade after age 65.
  • At all ages, participants with higher levels of neuroticism had a greater number of high-risk cardiometabolic factors.
  • Higher neuroticism was associated with a 13% higher likelihood of having six or more cardiometabolic disease risk factors, after adjusting for demographic characteristics (such as income and education) and family history of heart disease.
  • Higher worry levels were associated with a 10% higher likelihood of having six or more cardiometabolic disease risk factors after adjusting for demographic characteristics.

“We found that cardiometabolic disease risk increased as men aged, from their 30s into their 80s, irrespective of anxiety levels, while men who had higher levels of anxiety and worry consistently had a higher likelihood of developing cardiometabolic disease over time than those with lower levels of anxiety or worry,” Lee said.

The researchers did not have data on whether participants had been diagnosed with an anxiety disorder. Standard evidence-based treatment for anxiety disorders includes psychotherapy or medication, or a combination of the two.

“While we do not know whether treatment of anxiety and worry may lower one’s cardiometabolic risk, anxious and worry-prone individuals should pay greater attention to their cardiometabolic health. For example, by having routine health check-ups and being proactive in managing their cardiometabolic disease risk levels (such as taking medications for high blood pressure and maintaining a healthy weight), they may be able to decrease their likelihood of developing cardiometabolic disease,” said Lee.

It is unclear to what extent the results of this analysis are generalizable to the public since the study participants were all male and nearly all white. In addition, although participants were followed for four decades, they were middle-aged when the study began.

“It would be important for future studies to evaluate if these associations exist among women, people from diverse racial and ethnic groups, and in more socioeconomically varying samples, and to consider how anxiety may relate to the development of cardiometabolic risk in much younger individuals than those in our study,” Lee said.

Psychedelics Show Promise in Treating Mental Illness: Depression, Anxiety, Addiction, and PTSD

One in five U.S. adults will experience a mental illness in their lifetime, according to the National Alliance of Mental Health. But standard treatments can be slow to work and cause side effects.

To find better solutions, a Virginia Tech researcher has joined a renaissance of research on a long-banned class of drugs that could combat several forms of mental illness and, in mice, have achieved long-lasting results from just one dose.

This article is a repost which originally appeared on SciTechDaily 
 - 
Edited for content and readability - Images sourced from Pexels 
Study: DOI: 10.1016/j.celrep.2021.109836

Using a process his lab developed in 2015, Chang Lu, the Fred W. Bull Professor of Chemical Engineering in the College of Engineering, is helping his Virginia Commonwealth University collaborators study the epigenomic effects of psychedelics.

Their findings give insight into how psychedelic substances like psilocybin, mescaline, LSD, and similar drugs may relieve symptoms of addiction, anxiety, depression, and post-traumatic stress disorder. The drugs appear to work faster and last longer than current medications — all with fewer side effects.

The project hinged on Lu’s genomic analysis. His process allows researchers to use very small samples of tissue, down to hundreds to thousands of cells, and draw meaningful conclusions from them. Older processes require much larger sample sizes, so Lu’s approach enables the studies using just a small quantity of material from a specific region of a mouse brain.

And looking at the effects of psychedelics on brain tissues is especially important.

Researchers can do human clinical trials with the substances, taking blood and urine samples and observing behaviors, Lu said. “But the thing is, the behavioral data will tell you the result, but it doesn’t tell you why it works in a certain way,” he said.

But looking at molecular changes in animal models, such as the brains of mice, allows scientists to peer into what Lu calls the black box of neuroscience to understand the biological processes at work. While the brains of mice are very different from human brains, Lu said there are enough similarities to make valid comparisons between the two.

VCU pharmacologist Javier González-Maeso has made a career of studying psychedelics, which had been banned after recreational use of the drugs was popularized in the 1960s. But in recent years, regulators have begun allowing research on the drugs to proceed.

In work by other researchers, primarily on psilocybin, a substance found in more than 200 species of fungi, González-Maeso said psychedelics have shown promise in alleviating major depression and anxiety disorders. “They induce profound effects in perception,” he said. “But I was interested in how these drugs actually induce behavioral effects in mice.”

To explore the genomic basis of those effects, he teamed up with Lu.

In the joint Virginia Tech – VCU study, González-Maeso’s team used 2,5-dimethoxy-4-iodoamphetamine, or DOI, a drug similar to LSD, administering it to mice that had been trained to fear certain triggers. Lu’s lab then analyzed brain samples for changes in the epigenome and the gene expression. They discovered that the epigenomic variations were generally more long-lasting than the changes in gene expression, thus more likely to link with the long-term effects of a psychedelic.

After one dose of DOI, the mice that had reacted to fear triggers no longer responded to them with anxious behaviors. Their brains also showed effects, even after the substance was no longer detectable in the tissues, Lu said. The findings were published in the October issue of Cell Reports.

It’s a hopeful development for those who suffer from mental illness and the people who love them. In fact, it wasn’t just the science that drew Lu to the project.

For him, it’s also personal.

“My older brother has had schizophrenia for the last 30 years, basically. So I’ve always been intrigued by mental health,” Lu said. “And then once I found that our approach can be applied to look at processes like that — that’s why I decided to do research in the field of brain neuroscience.”

González-Maeso said research on psychedelics is still in its early stages, and there’s much work to be done before treatments derived from them could be widely available.

24 Ways You or Your Penis-Having Partner Can Increase Penile Sensitivity

24 Ways You or Your Penis-Having Partner Can Increase Penile Sensitivity

Medically reviewed by Jennifer Litner, LMFT, CST — Written by Adrienne Santos-Longhurst on October 14, 2020

This article is a repost which originally appeared on Healthline

Edited for content

For many folks, sexual satisfaction is all about the feels, so if you or your penis-having partner are experiencing decreased sensitivity down there, it could really mess with your ability to get off.

There are a few things that can cause a decrease in penile sensation, from the way a person masturbates to lifestyle habits and hormone imbalances. The good news: There are ways to get back that lovin’ feeling.

Quick distinction: Less sensation vs. numbness

To be clear, there’s a big difference between less sensation and numbness.

Having less sensation — which is what we’re focusing on in this article — means you don’t feel as much sensation in your peen as you did before.

A numb penis is a whole other ball of wax and refers to not being able to feel any normal sensation when your penis is touched.

If it’s related to your technique

Yep, how you pleasure yourself might be affecting your penile sensation.

What does this have to do with it?

The way you masturbate can lead to decreased sensitivity. Some people call this “death grip syndrome.”

The gist is that people who masturbate using a very specific technique or tight grip can become desensitized to other types of pleasure over time.

When this happens, coming or even getting any pleasure without the exact move or pressure becomes difficult.

If you’re feeling all the feels just fine when you masturbate but find that partner sex is where the sensation is lacking, there are a couple potential reasons.

A thinner or smaller-than-average penis, or even too much lube (natural wetness or synthetic), can mean less friction — and ultimately sensation — during intercourse.

What can you do to help address this?

Just switching up your technique should do the trick and help you recondition your sensitivity.

If death grip is the issue, depending on how you’re used to masturbating, this might mean loosening your grip, stroking at a slower pace, or both.

You could also mix things up with a sex toy made for penis play, like the Super Sucker UR3 Masturbator, which you can buy online, or TENGA Zero Flip Hole Masturbator, which is also available online. And don’t forget the lube!

If intercourse is the issue, some positions make for a tighter fit and therefore more friction.

Here’s a little secret: Tweaking any position so your partner can keep their legs tight together during sex should work.

Plus, if anal sex is what you’re both into, the anus is by nature a tighter squeeze. Just be sure to use a lot of lube if you take it to the backside.

And speaking of a lot of lube: If an abundance of wetness is making sex feel a bit like a Slip ’N Slide, a quick wipe with some tissue should fix it.

If it’s related to your lifestyle

Certain lifestyle habits can be to blame for your peen’s lessened sensitivity.

What does this have to do with it?

Do you bicycle a lot? Do you masturbate frequently? These things can cause the sensitivity in your peen to tank if you do them often.

When it comes to masturbation, how often you do it matters if you’re doing it a lot, according to research that has linked hyperstimulation to decreased penile sensitivity.

As for bicycling, bicycle seats put pressure on the perineum — the space between your balls and anus. It presses on blood vessels and nerves that provide feeling to the penis.

Sitting in a hard or uncomfortable chair for long periods can do the same.

What can you do to help address this?

Masturbation is healthy, but if the frequency of your handy treats is causing a problem, taking a break for a week or two can help get your penis feeling back to itself.

If you sit or bicycle for long periods, take regular breaks. Consider swapping out your bike seat or usual chair for something more comfortable.

If it’s related to your testosterone levels

Testosterone is the male sex hormone responsible for libido, not to mention a bunch of other functions.

If your testosterone (T) level drops, you might feel less responsive to sexual stimulation and have trouble getting aroused.

T levels decrease as you age. Damage to your danglers — aka testicles — can also affect T, as well as certain conditions, substances, and cancer treatment.

Your doctor can diagnose low T with a simple blood test and treat it using testosterone replacement therapy (TRT). Lifestyle changes, like regular exercise, maintaining a moderate weight, and getting more sleep can also help.

If it’s related to an underlying condition or medication

Certain medical conditions and medications can affect sensation in the penis.

What does this have to do with it?

Diabetes and multiple sclerosis (MS) are just a couple conditions that can damage nerves and affect sensation in different body parts, including the penis.

Medications used to treat Parkinson’s disease can also reduce penile sensation as a side effect.

Ensuring that any underlying condition is well managed might help bring the feels back.

If medication’s the culprit, your doctor may be able to adjust your dose or change your medication.

If it’s related to your mental health

Sexual pleasure isn’t just about your D. Your brain plays a big role, too.

What does this have to do with it?

If you’re dealing with anxiety, stress, depression, or any other mental health issue, getting in the mood can be near impossible. And even if you really want to get down to business, your penis may not be as receptive.

What can you do to help address this?

It really depends on what’s going on mentally.

Taking some time to unwind before sexy time can help if you’re feeling stressed or anxious.

A hot bath or shower can help your mind and muscles relax. The warm water also increases circulation, which can help increase sensitivity and make your skin more responsive to touch.

If you’re regularly struggling with feelings of anxiety or depression, or having trouble coping with stress, reach out for help.

Talk to a friend or loved one, see a healthcare provider, or find a local mental health provider through the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA).

Things to keep in mind if you’re struggling

Not to be punny, but try to not beat yourself silly over this.

We get how frustrating it must be to not be able to enjoy the sensation you want or expect during sexual activity.

Here are some things to keep in mind if you’re struggling.

It’s probably not permanent

Chances are your lessened penile sensation can be improved.

As we’ve already covered, changes in technique, getting in the right frame of mind, or some lifestyle tweaks may be all that’s needed to get your penis feeling right again.

A healthcare provider can help with any underlying medical or mental health issues and recommend the right treatments.

Go easy on yourself

We’re not just talking about choking your chicken either! Stressing about this and putting pressure on yourself will only make things worse in the pleasure department.

Give yourself time to relax and get in the mood before play, and permission to stop and try another time if you’re not feeling it.

Don’t be embarrassed to ask for help

Penis health and sexual health are just as important as other aspects of your health.

If there’s something going on with your penis or your ability to enjoy sexual activity, a professional can help.

Good penis health is in your hands

You can’t control everything, but there are things you can do to help keep your penis healthy:

  • Eat a healthy diet, including foods shown to boost penis health by lowering inflammation and improving T levels and circulation.
  • Get regular exercise to improve mood and T levels, manage your weight, and lower your risk for erectile dysfunction and other conditions.
  • Learn to relax and find healthy ways to cope with stress to improve your T levels, mood, sleep, and overall health.
Things to keep in mind if your partner is struggling

If it’s your partner who’s struggling with lessened sensitivity down there, don’t worry. Chances are there’s a good reason for it, and it’s probably not what you think.

Here are some things to keep in mind if it’s getting to you.

Don’t take it personally

Your first instinct may be to blame yourself if your partner isn’t enjoying sex. Try to not do this.

Sounds harsh, but: Not your penis, not your problem.

As a loving partner, of course you want them to feel good. But unless you’ve damaged their penis by taking a hammer to it, their lessened penile sensitivity isn’t your fault, so don’t make it about you.

I repeat, don’t make it about you

Seriously, it’s not your penis!

As frustrated as you might be, keep it to yourself

Not trying to dismiss your feelings or anything, but as frustrated as you may be that your partner isn’t feeling it even when you pull out your best moves, it’s probably a lot more frustrating for them.

That said, if your partner’s lack of sensation results in a marathon shag sesh that causes chafing to your nether regions, of course you have the right to take a break or stop. It’s your body, after all. Just be mindful of how you say it.

Ask what your partner needs from you

EVERYONE should be asking what their partner needs when it comes to sex and relationships. It’s the key to making both great.

Do they need a little time to relax before action moves to the peen? Do they need more foreplay that focuses on other pleasure spots to help them get in the mood? Do they want to just stop altogether? Don’t be afraid to ask.

The bottom line

If you’ve lost some of that lovin’ feeling down below, your lifestyle and pleasure routine — solo or partnered — may provide some clues. If not, your doctor or other healthcare provider can help.

In the meantime, be patient and kind with yourself, and consider some of your other pleasure zones for satisfaction.

 

Common Causes of Impotence

Common Causes of Impotence

By Sara Ryding, B.Sc.

Reviewed by Emily Henderson, B.Sc.

This article is a repost which originally appeared on NEWS MEDICAL

Edited for content

Impotence, which is also known as erectile dysfunction, is the inability to get and maintain an erection for intercourse. While the occasional issue with impotence is not considered rare or cause for concern, persistent issues can cause severe stress and be a sign of an underlying health issue. The causes of impotence can include physical and psychological sources.

Impotence and sexual arousal

The processes around sexual arousal are complex and can be difficult to distinguish. For males, the sexual arousal process involves the brain, hormones, emotions, nerves, muscles, and blood vessels to achieve an erection.

As such, impotence can stem from any of these areas or a combination of them. For example, impotence caused by blood vessel issues can be worsened by subsequent stress and mental health concerns.

Physical causes of impotence

Vascular causes of impotence are among the most common causes of impotence. In some cases, impotence can be a symptom of progression towards cardiovascular disease. For example, impotence is common in people with atherosclerosis and can later progress into heart disease. If the veins are unable to close during an erection, this can cause impotence as it hinders the erection from being maintained. This is called veno-occlusive dysfunction.

Veno-occlusive dysfunction can be caused by the development of venous channels that drain blood from the corpora cavernosa where blood would otherwise be trapped during health erections. Veno-occlusive dysfunction can also be caused by deleterious alterations to the tunica albuginea, which would otherwise be responsible for stopping blood from leaving the penis. These alterations can occur as a result of old age, diabetes, or Peyronie’s disease. Other causes include traumatic injury, alterations to muscles around the area, and shunts that are acquired during certain surgery.

Neurological issues are another physical cause of impotence. This can occur as a result of diseases, such as Parkinson’s or Alzheimer’s disease, or due to trauma and injury. These can cause impotence by both decreasing libidos and by inhibiting the onset of an erection. In the event of spinal cord injury, the effect on impotence can depend on the nature, location, and extent of the injury. Similarly, neurological issues can be the cause of impotence in old age as sensory stimuli abate with age.

There is some evidence that hormonal issues can cause impotence. A deficiency in androgen, a hormone needed for male sexual characteristics and sex drive, can lower nocturnal erections and decrease libido. However, there is also evidence that erections in response to sexual stimulation still occur in patients with decreased hormonal activity, meaning androgen is not essential.

Psychological causes of impotence

Psychological issues were previously believed to be the main cause of impotence, and it is still considered a common cause of impotence. If the onset of impotence is sudden, this might indicate that the cause is psychological rather than physical.

Psychological issues can range from serious mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, to issues in the relationship with whom impotence occurs. The brain is a starting point for sexual arousal, and issues at this stage can be detrimental to the onset of an erection.

Mental health issues such as depression have a particularly strong link to impotence. This can be due to a lack of libido, performance anxiety, or persistent loss of interest and enjoyment. In schizophrenic people, lowered libido is the main cause of impotence. Some drugs to treat schizophrenia can increase libido, but there can still be persistent issues with erections and orgasms.

Risk factors of impotence

While the causes of impotence can be physical and psychological, there are certain lifestyle and medical factors that can increase the risk of these causes. For example, using tobacco can restrict blood flow the veins and arteries and can thus, over time, lead to vasculature issues which lead to impotence.

Age is one of the biggest risk factors in impotence. Impotence occurs in around 20-40% of older men. Studies have found that the risk of impotence rises by 10% every year in men aged 40-70 years old. The reasons for this are numerous: the penis becomes less sensitive to stimulation, hormone levels decrease, cardiovascular issues become more common, and libido naturally decreases with age.

Other risk factors include obesity, injuries that damage nerves or arteries that are involved in erections, persistent drinking, or alcoholism. Impotence can be avoided by sometimes making changes to lifestyle, such as reducing drinking and smoking but may sometimes need focused treatment. Other times, medical treatments such as radiation treatment or prostate surgery can be risk factors for impotence and may be needed to save the patient’s life.

Sources

  • Mayo Clinic. 2020. Erectile Dysfunction – Symptoms and Causes. [online] Available at: <https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/erectile-dysfunction/symptoms-causes/syc-20355776> [Accessed 26 August 2020].
  • Lue, T., 2000. Erectile Dysfunction. New England Journal of Medicine, 342(24), pp. 1802-1813.
  • Wyllie, M., 2005. The underlying pathophysiology and causes of erectile dysfunction. Clinical Cornerstone, 7(1), pp. 19-26.

My life in sex: the man with a small penis

My life in sex: the man with a small penis

‘I’ve heard of women rejecting a guy for his size, then making fun of him to others’

This article is a repost which originally appeared on The Guardian

‘I used to think someone who loved me would work around my shortcomings.’

I was 15 when I realised my penis was below average in size. Feeling increasingly ashamed, I gravitated towards humiliation pornography (in which women demean men over their size) and that only made me focus more on my anxieties. I used to upload pictures of my penis anonymously on to sites such as Reddit, and the comments were all about how small it was.

I’m 22 now, and have never had a girlfriend, which I attribute to my low self-esteem. I think that in a loving relationship you accept each other’s faults – that is what I’d try to do – but I’ve heard stories of women rejecting a guy for his size and then making fun of him to other people. I’ve asked out a female friend or two while drunk, but always been rejected. Hell, I’d have rejected myself – I have overeating issues, an introverted personality, no banter. There are a million factors, but I can’t help tying them all up with having a small penis. I used to blame my inability to date on anyone but me, and for a while I gravitated towards incel [involuntary celibate] groups, but I soon realised that their ideology is toxic. I don’t believe women owe men sex.

I struggle with an addiction to pornography, but seeing performers with enormous dicks doesn’t bother me. I’m aware they are unrealistic. Knowing that my 3.5in erection is well below average has more of an impact. I used to think that someone who loved me would work around my shortcomings (using sex toys or other techniques), but I’ve stopped looking for a relationship. In the future, I intend to have a vasectomy. I know penis size, obesity and mental health issues, such as anxiety, have genetic components. On the off-chance that I have an opportunity to create a child, I wouldn’t want to pass them along.

Editor’s Note: The story above is a depressing tale.  Your input on it below would be appreciated!