Hepatitis C Lifestyle Management: Get Your Sexy Back
Plenty of research has demonstrated that regular, pleasurable sex is good for your health. While that information sounds good, it is useless if you are not in a sexual mood. Unfortunately, loss of libido (sexual desire) is a common problem for individuals with the Hepatitis C virus (HCV). Even though there are various documented physical and emotional obstacles that could potentially interfere with the sex life of someone with chronic Hepatitis C, feeling sexy is within most people’s grasp. Identifying as a sexual being in and of itself may foster an improvement in health; however, consistently feeling sexy frequently precedes a significant improvement in one’s sex life.
Of the millions of people infected with HCV, many have a decreased interest in sex. Four of the most likely reasons for this association include:
- Depression – Known to impair sex drive, clinical studies show that depression is significantly higher among HCV-infected patients compared with the general population.
- Fatigue – Individuals with pronounced fatigue have little to no energy for sex. Chronic fatigue, the most commonly reported symptom of Hepatitis C infection, affects between 65 and 75 percent of those diagnosed with the disease.
- Hormones – Most forms of chronic liver disease (including Hepatitis C) can alter hormone levels, providing a chemical basis for loss of libido.
- Medications– The medications used to treat Hepatitis C are known to cause decreased libido; however, sex drive typically returns upon treatment cessation.
The causes for low sex drive listed above may seem insurmountable without a physician’s help. While a doctor can help you conquer some of these barriers, sexual health experts believe that helping steer your body toward feeling good and your mind toward feeling sexy can also have a positive effect on libido.
Regular, pleasurable sex has been linked with several health benefits that would be welcomed by anyone with Hepatitis C. A couple of those benefits include:
- Pain relief and improved mood – Sexual arousal and orgasm are known to increase endorphins, hormones naturally manufactured by the body that ease pain and help you feel good.
- Enhanced immunity – Sex increases levels of immunoglobulin A (IgA), a cell protein that fights viral infections. In Pennsylvania, a study showed that college students who engaged in sexual activity once or twice a week had 30 percent higher levels of lgA than students who were abstinent.
Without requiring a doctor’s visit, six suggested ways to get your sexy back are listed below:
- Exercise regularly – Because blood must flow to all the right places, sexual arousal is partially dependent on your cardiovascular system. Besides its ability to improve energy levels, regular aerobic exercise is the ideal guarantor of cardiovascular health, since it keeps the heart pumping and the blood flowing.
- Stay away from cigarettes – Cigarette smoking is well known to impair the cardiovascular system. According to Panayiotis M. Zavos, PhD, director of the Andrology Institute of America and professor of reproductive physiology and andrology at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, “Smoking has a direct, negative effect on the sexuality of a man on every level.”
- Make peace with your body’s imperfections – A survey in Health Magazine revealed that a negative body image is the number one sexual issue for women. According to Patti Britton, PhD, a clinical sexologist and author of The Art of Sex Coaching, men are also affected by body-image issues. In order to feel sexy, Dr. Britton teaches the importance of making peace with and appreciating your body’s ‘perceived’ imperfections.
- Communicate with your partner – Partners with a satisfying sex life talk to one another by voicing their desires, describing what makes them feel good and giving positive feedback on what their partner is doing right. Avoid being critical, worrying or discussing negative issues during sex.
- Think and learn about sex – Pay respect to the brain as one of the most important sexual organs. When it comes to sexual fantasies and desires, purposely think about them often, write them down and share them with your partner. Read sexy books or how-to guides to give you new ideas about improving or varying your sexual repertoire.
- Build your confidence – When it comes to feeling sexy, self-confidence is a must. Practice altering your walk to portray confidence, treat yourself to a new haircut or outfit that you feel confident in and continually remind yourself of all the reasons that you are sexy.
While sexual dysfunction with HCV could be a physical problem that improves under a physician’s guidance, feeling sexy is predominantly a state of mind. Improving cardiovascular health, boosting confidence levels, talking about sex and sexualizing your brain can all improve libido – which causes a cascade of events that can benefit adults with chronic Hepatitis C.
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http://www.hcvadvocate.org/hepatitis/factsheets_pdf/HCV%20and%20Aging_09.pdf, Aging & Hepatitis C, Lucinda K. Porter, RN, Retrieved August 7, 2010, Hepatitis C Support Project, 2010.
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http://www.hepatitis-central.com/mt/archives/2007/04/fatigue_and_hep.html, Fatigue and Hepatitis C, Nicole Cutler, L.Ac., Retrieved August 8, 2010, Natural Wellness, 2010.
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