The male bad-in-bed list
As husbands and boyfriends, most men know that having an appealing physical appearance and good hygiene habits will score points with their romantic partners. But if you think that’s all it takes to please your mate, think again. Certain bodily characteristics and behaviors are surprisingly linked to sexual performance -- often a critical component in successful relationships.
-- By Coeli Carr for MSN Healthy Living
Bigger is not always better. “By consensus, men with a 40-inch or larger waist size are generally defined as having metabolic syndrome,” says Irwin Goldstein, MD, director of sexual medicine at Alvarado Hospital in San Diego, and clinical professor of surgery at University of California, San Diego. “Metabolic syndrome increases the risk for morbidity, diabetes, high cholesterol, hypertension, vascular disease -- and also erectile dysfunction.”
The connection between a man’s large girth and erectile dysfunction is low testosterone, says Goldstein. “If a man has enough testosterone, then stem cells, which are present in all the organs, can be converted into muscle,” he says. “If his testosterone level is low, stem cells will convert into fat.”
The most synergistic remedy is typically lifestyle change, along with testosterone administration, if indicated, says Goldstein.
Claw hand (previously called Can’t High Five)
Can’t high five? “Men who can’t flatten their fingers and spread them may also have problems with excessive scarring in the wall of the erection chambers of their penis, which results in curvature of the erection,” says Goldstein. “These men are often incapable of shaking hands or grasping objects.”
Goldstein says that the conditions, called Dupytren’s contracture, are often seen in men with Peyronie’s disease. “Both are metabolic disorders of connective tissue -- there’s difficulty in stretching the thick tendons in the hands or penis.”
Because claw hand is a systemic condition, both hands are typically affected, says Goldstein. “Fortunately, pending FDA approval, there’s a remedy in the wings: Collagenase, an enzyme which can digest excess collagen and can be injected into the erection chamber’s thickened walls to decrease penile curvature.”
Men whose long-sleeved shirts fall way past their fingers may be in for a shock. “Longer measurements from men’s underarms to the tips of their middle fingers are statistically associated with long-sized penile erections,” says Goldstein, editor-in-chief of The Journal of Sexual Medicine and co-author of When Sex Hurts, Generally, he says, an erect penis is about five-and-a-quarter inches long. When it is longer than that, the arms will be longer, too. Unfortunately, the opposite is also true, he says, noting, however, that for many partners, size is not the most important issue.
Most men would love to make their guts vanish. But when it comes to sex, men should ask what part of the anatomy their low-hanging guts make disappear. Turns out, it’s the penis. “Statistically, a small penis is associated with a pear-shaped gut, also known as the pannus.” says Goldstein. “Because the pannus extends out several inches -- and the shaft of the penis is also several inches -- the pannus can obscure the penis. The medical profession often refers to this condition as ‘buried penis.’”
A pannus, which often signifies a low-testosterone state, is often resistant to fat loss, says Goldstein. “If lifestyle change and hormone treatment are not sufficient, then liposuction and critically placed sutures may be a last-ditch method to eliminate the pannus and regain penile length.”
A man’s fingers can reveal a lot about libido, if you know where to look. “Studies have shown a correlation between the length of the index and ring fingers and behavioral traits based on testosterone,” says Goldstein. In what’s known as the “2D:4D Digit Ratio,” he says, there’s less libido when the index finger (2D) is longer than the ring finger (4D), which indicates that the man was exposed to more androgen while in the womb. There’s more libido – -- a sign that a man was exposed to high levels of testosterone during gestation – -- when his ring finger is longer than his index finger. Heredity has everything to do with these ratios. “A mother will pass on her own high or low testosterone levels to the fetus,” he says.
The tubercle -- the slightly plump protrusion found at the bottom-center area of the upper lip -- has a surprising connection with pleasurable sex. In 2011, a study published in The Journal of Sexual Medicine cited that the greater the prominence of a female's tubercle, the more likely she is to experience a vaginal orgasm.
“This relationship between tubercle and orgasm has been studied primarily in women, but it may also exist in men, pending further research,” says Goldstein. “In the sexual medicine field, what happens in women usually happens in men, and vice versa.”
Man boobs, which occur when excess fat is deposited in the chest area, are no laughing matter. “The condition is caused by excess estradiol -- an estrogen hormone -- and insufficient testosterone,” says Darius A. Paduch, MD and Ph.D., director of sexual medicine in the department of urology at New York Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical College. Not surprisingly, man boobs appear in overweight men whose bodies convert testosterone to estradiol. “In addition to having feminine-appearing breasts, a man will also lose his libido and have difficulty sustaining an erection because of the decrease in testosterone and his high levels of estradiol.”
Paduch advises men with this condition to lose weight, which will help reduce testosterone conversion, and to cut down on the consumption of soy products, which contain phytoestrogens.
Snoring, which in men is associated with obesity and low testosterone, often indicates the sleep disorder called sleep apnea, says Paduch, associate professor of urology and reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medical College. “Sleep apnea causes grogginess on awakening,” he says. “When you combine an already low testosterone level with the chronic fatigue that results from sleep deprivation over time -- which further lowers testosterone -- there’s little or no energy for sex.”
Paduch advises men with this condition to lose weight and get treatment for sleep apnea to restore healthy sleep patterns.
To have good sex, you need to focus. “Unfortunately, men who are depressed, despite their best efforts at sex, have too many other things on their mind,” says Paduch. In some cases, he says, their depression is associated with anhedonia, a condition that makes it difficult or impossible to experience pleasure, even when having sex.
Paduch notes that men who’ve gotten into a “not-in-the-mood” groove need to distinguish between what might be their temporary moratorium on sex -- because of illness or after certain disruptive events -- and long-term avoidance. Trusting your sexual partner is critical, he says. And, adds Paduch, antidepressants should not be a permanent solution. “Many anti-depression drugs, especially SSRIs, have significant sexual side effects.”