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Sexual Abstinence and Longevity


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Hi all,

I am a long time lurker finally made an account to post about something that interests me which I don't see discussed here very often.

A theory as to why CR works to promote longevity is that it takes us from a 'reproductive mode' to a 'repair existing tissue' mode. It has also been found historically that eunuchs live much longer lives than even the emperor's and kings that they served. I find explicit research on this relationship to be lacking so I figured I would pose the question to you all here.

What are your views on sexual activity and longevity?

I personally tend to think there is a happy medium where you are active enough to prevent certain cancers but not active enough that it is overly taxing to the body. I think it would make sense that abstinence would be similar to other hormetic response curves we see with other mild stressors.

Please feel free to post whatever studies you think are relevant to this topic. I would like to make this thread a hub for this general discussion about the relationship between sexual activity and longevity.

Edited by cronandnoots
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Well, I don't know that sexual abtinence and the state of being a eunuch are at all comparable. In the case of the eunuch you are strongly cutting back on certain sex hormones which has been associated with longer lifespan in various animals (notably, this seems to obtain in pets, such as cats and dogs). I'm not even sure there is convincing proof it works for humans, the eunuch studies are necessarily very limited, mostly historic comparisons. 

As to abstinence, again, it's complicated and not comparable to cutting back on sex hormones. Now, there are cirucumstances where you do cut back on such hormones, notably if there is prolonged and fairly severe CR - leading to amenorrhea in women and the cessation of sexual desire and activity in males. But whatever effect this has on health/longevity is going to be inevitably confounded by the broad effects of CR itself. It is also probably the case that if there is really no sexual activity, perhaps sex hormone levels drop, but I'm not sure about that. And again, we don't have convincing studies, for obvious reasons. There have been some surveys and statistics derived from monks, nuns and such, but it seems to me very limted and rather poor quality. Besides, you'd have to distinguish between sexual activity involving another person, and things like masturbation - if monks/nuns do the latter, how would you know, just because they don't have sexual partners (that we know of, ahem!), you can't assume therefore complete sexual abstinence.

Other proxies have been tried - men/women who have no children, a lot of children and so on and the impact on longevity, but again, that's data that's hopelessly confounded by a ton of factors, so I'd disregard that. 

In the absence of reliable human studies, I'm not sure what one could do other than speculate. YMMV. 

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