Scientists Find Correlation Between Sexual Frequency and Homocysteine Levels

More frequent sex has been linked to lower levels of serum homocysteine in some adults, according to new research in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.

Homocysteine is an amino acid found in the blood, mainly derived from meat consumption. People with high levels of homocysteine may be at higher risk for heart disease and atherosclerosis (hardening of the arteries).

The relationship between sexual frequency and homocysteine has not been widely studied. However, after considering past research on sexual dysfunction and cardiovascular disease, researchers decided to explore it further.

Using information from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) of 2005 to 2006, they identified 2,267 adults who had completed a sexual health questionnaire and provided serum homocysteine data.

The participants lived in the United States and were between the ages of 20 and 59 years, with a mean age of 36. Forty-four percent were men.

The research team divided the participants into four quartiles based on sexual frequency. The lowest quartile had sex 0 to 11 times each year. The highest had sex 104 times or more.

The scientists found a negative correlation between sexual frequency and homocysteine. Participants, especially men, who had sex less often generally had higher serum homocysteine levels.

The correlation might be higher in men because of homocysteine could lead to damage in blood vessels, including those in the penis that are essential for men’s
erections, the authors noted, adding that female sexual dysfunction “is strongly affected by relationship and sociocultural factors, in addition to physical and psychological problems.”

Several limitations were acknowledged. Sexual frequency and homocysteine levels were assessed at one time point, so it was unclear what the long-term connection would be. Also, the NHANES data did not include information on “other psychological states and occasions for intercourse.” There were also no data on testosterone levels or sexual side effects from medications.

Still, having sex more frequently could be good for general health and quality of life, especially for men, the authors said.

“Clinical physicians in primary care should support patients’ sexual activity, and there are implications from these results for health promotion programs,” they wrote.

Resources

The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Yang, Hui-Fang, MD, et al.
“Does Serum Homocysteine Explain the Connection Between Sexual Frequency and Cardiovascular Risk?”
(Full-text. Published online: June 8, 2017)
http://www.jsm.jsexmed.org/article/S1743-6095(17)31193-1/fulltext

WebMD

“Heart Disease and Homocysteine”
(Reviewed: September 14, 2016)
http://www.webmd.com/heart-disease/guide/homocysteine-risk