GetHealthyHarlem.org

Harlem Word: Dr. Hilda Hutcherson -- Sex, exercise and health

We sat down with Dr. Hutcherson to talk about how sex is an important part of overall health.

Dr. Hutcherson is a gynecologist and professor of obstetrics and gynecology at Columbia University Medical Center.

Q: For those people who might want to get more healthy and thinking about losing weight, can sex be a form of exercise and how can they incorporate it into their exercise routine?

A: Oh yes. Well you know sex is an aerobic exercise and aerobic exercise helps to strengthen your heart, helps to keep your weight in check and helps to make you stronger. So I like to tell women that if you had sex every single day for a year and you can eat the same about of food and you could still lose 20 pounds, but no one has taken me up on that. But certainly having sex that is satisfying and physical can be a great form of exercise and can contribute to your overall health, as long as you do it safely. Still gotta be safe.

Q: So we did talk a little bit about getting healthy. Diseases such as diabetes and high blood pressure and even obesity have been big issues in Harlem for the past few years. And sometimes those medical conditions can make people also feel self conscious about their ability to have sex. What are your recommendations for a healthy sex life when you have a disability or medical issue that might affect performance or stamina?

A: First you have to realize that sex is important no matter what your age is, what your physical medical problem might be, you should not give up on your sex life. So your sex life may change, but you don't have to do without it. You don't have to say that is a thing of the past because I personally believe that sex, satisfying, safe sex, is good for you, it's healthy. So speaking to your doctor about your own physical condition, speaking to your doctor about the medication you are taking, which may affect your sex life is very important. So let's say for instance someone has high blood pressure, and we know that some of the treatments for high blood pressure can affect men and women's performance. Men may have erectile dysfunction secondary to the medication or the disease, and women as well can have some sexual problems. But speaking to your doctor will allow your doctor to choose a medication that has less affect on your sex life. So instead of just stopping your medication and saying, "I can't take it because it's affecting my sex life," speak to your doctor about it. There are a number of different options that are out there. If your medical problem itself is affecting your sex life, you may have to make some changes, but that doesn't mean that you give it up. So the message here is to talk to your doctor about your particular physical condition, the medications that you're taking, and any effect that your disease or your medication might be having on your sex life.

Q: So people should definitely talk to their doctor about sex.

A: Absolutely, that should be part of your yearly visit. You know "How's my sex life?" That should be something that you should bring up with your doctors because we know that there are many, many doctors who will never ever bring up the topic of sex. Because doctors are human and many of us don't feel comfortable with the topic.

More on our interview with Dr. Hutcherson...

Harlem Word is a series of interviews with Northern Manhattan health experts, written by HHPC and reviewed by our Health Advisory Board.

1 Comment

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