The Grapevine

Parkinson’s Cure? Sex Found To Improve Health Of Parkinson’s Patients

A new study suggests sex might help improve the health of Parkinson’s disease patients -- but only if they’re men.

A new two-year study that tracked the sexual habits and Parkinson’s progression among 355 patients found that sexually active early-stage male patients do experience "milder" disease progression and a less dramatic loss of motor skills and other disease symptoms compared with those who don't.

Why this happens to be the case still isn’t clear to researchers, who are also baffled why this finding seems to only apply to men.

"This is in line with data showing a close relationship between sexual health and general health, both in healthy individuals and in patients with chronic disease," said Dr. Marina Picillo, an assistant professor at the University of Salerno's Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Italy, who led the Italian-British study team.

The study reveals that women experience different Parkinson's symptoms from men. Also, women "are less prone to talk about sexual and genital issues due to societal attitudes," wrote Picillo.

This might probably help explain why the results seem skewed towards men. There’s also the fact twice as many men were enrolled as women (238 men versus 117 women).

Picillo and her research team said the findings warrant the attention of movement disorder specialists, who can now view a patient's sexual history as a tool to predict or even influence Parkinson's disease progression.

If this is indeed the case, the finding might turn out to be huge for the one million Americans that will be living with the disease by 2020, according to the Parkinson's Foundation.

This neurodegenerative disease can be quite debilitating with its unnerving symptoms such as uncontrollable tremors, trouble walking, rigidity and stooping, dizziness, balance issues and slowness. These symptoms can be difficult to treat.

There is no known cure or prevention for Parkinson's, which set researchers on the road to finding out if an active sex life might help.

Study participants were about 57 years old when first diagnosed with Parkinson's. During the 2005-2006 study launch, all were classified with "early-stage" Parkinson's. Participants were also asked if they had sex and/or sexual dysfunction during the past year.

Is an Organic Food Diet Better for Parkinson’s? Here's all you need to know about nutrition and diet to help slow the progression of Parkinson’s disease. Artis Rams, CC BY-ND 2.0

The study’s male participants were twice as sexually active as women. Some two-thirds of men said they were having sex, while only one-third of women said the same.

Nearly half the men complained about erectile dysfunction and orgasm problems. The study also found sexual activity did decrease somewhat for everyone during the two years of follow-up.

It concluded that men who engaged in sexual activity displayed less severe motor disability and a better overall quality of life than those who did not. No such luck for women, however.

Researchers cautioned against drawing any firm conclusions on the role of sex in Parkinson's progression until more research is completed.

Loading...