MONDAY, July 15, 2019 (HealthDay News) — Can sex help improve the health of a Parkinson’s patient?
It might — at least for some.
So claims a new two-year study that tracked the sexual habits and disease progression among 355 Parkinson’s patients.
“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 the Italian-British study team, led by Dr. Marina Picillo. She’s an assistant professor at the University of Salerno’s Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases in Salerno, Italy.
Picillo and her colleagues concluded that early-stage male patients who are sexually active do experience “milder” disease progression and a less dramatic loss of motor skills and other disease symptoms, compared with those who don’t.
But there’s a hitch. The finding only appears to apply to men.
Why? The answer is not clear. But one factor may be that the investigation results were skewed, as twice as many men were enrolled as women (238 men versus 117 women).
Beyond that, the study authors pointed out that women experience different Parkinson’s symptoms from men. And women “are less prone to talk about sexual and genital issues due to societal attitudes,” wrote Picillo.
Even so, she and her research team said the findings warrant the attention of movement disorder specialists, who might view a patient’s sexual history as a tool to predict or even influence Parkinson’s disease progression.
If so, the finding could turn out to be big news for the roughly 1 million Americans the Parkinson’s Foundation estimates will be living with the disease by 2020.
For one, the neurodegenerative disease can be very debilitating, presenting symptoms such as uncontrollable tremors, trouble walking, rigidity and stooping, dizziness, balance issues and slowness.
There is also no known cure or prevention for Parkinson’s, and symptoms can be difficult to treat.
So the researchers set out to see if an active sex life might help.
Study participants were about 57 years old when first diagnosed with Parkinson’s. At the 2005-2006 study launch, all were classified with “early-stage” disease.