Keeping Sex Hot in Your Senior Yearsby Carissa Andrews - April 13th, 2015
In modern society, we’ve lost our way when it comes to not only accepting the wisdom and benefit that comes with age and experience – but we’ve also tried to shut out essential elements of what it means to be a senior. Gone are the days of revering and respecting the elders in our communities (which, by the way, is something this Minnesotan woman feels should really be reintroduced), and in are the days when only the virility of the young is admired most. We spend thousands of dollars to reverse the aging process, trying to pretend we’re younger than we actually are. Which in turn, makes us all feel badly about our own self-image, since aging is something none of us can escape. Eventually, it comes for us all.
One of the ways we inadvertently demean our seniors is by refusing to accept or talk about sex beyond our fertile years. There’s a bizarre unspoken rule that we can spend most of our fertile years trying to have sex without getting pregnant—but when you no longer can, sex should no longer be on your mind. Why is this?
This idea a complete misnomer since couples are having satisfying and deeply fulfilling sex well into their 80’s and even 90’s!
How Does Sex Change with Aging?
For Men: As men age, testosterone levels start to decrease. This can make it harder for a man to get aroused, or take longer to get an erection. Sometimes, erections may not last as long, or be as firm. Erectile dysfunction is more common as men age, but it’s not inevitable. It’s also not a prison sentence. There are a host of prescription medications, along with natural ways to reduce the effects of ED.
For Women: As women approach menopause, estrogen and testosterone levels begin to decrease. Sex can become uncomfortable due to vaginal dryness and thinning. In addition, it can hamper her sex drive, or take longer to become sexually aroused, just like her male counterpart.
Health Problems: Medical conditions can play a role in the challenges that need to be overcome to have a fulfilling sex life as we age. Some conditions such as arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and depression can make sex more challenging. Additionally, some medications can play a role in how well you can perform, if you’re able to become aroused, or even orgasm. Seniors experiencing any health related issues that detract from their sex lives should talk to their doctor to find ways to overcome the potential obstacles.
One thing to note is that sex at any age offers many health benefits that should not be overlooked. Understanding some of the benefits of connecting intimately with your partner can help you to face any challenge that comes with aging.
Why is sex good for you?
• Happy Vibes:Due to the release of oxytocin (the cuddle hormone), having sex makes people happy.
• Live Longer:Sex on a regular basis can increase a person's lifespan. According to a study conducted at Queens University in Belfast, people who had an active sex life lived longer than those who didn't.
• Improves memory:Due to the increased heart rate, more oxygen is cycling through your blood, which in turn translates to more oxygen to the brain. Because of this, memory improves, along with other cognitive functions.
• Reduces Pain:Sex releases endorphins, which act as natural painkillers. They also help you fall asleep, and relieve stress.
• Counts as Exercise:Sex burns about five calories per minute (four more than just sitting on your keister). It bumps up your heart rate, gets blood pumping, and uses a bunch of different muscles.
• Cancer Reduction:Sex is actually known to lower the risk of prostate and breast cancer.
• Lowers Risk of Heart Attack:All that blood pumping is obviously good for your heart. Not to mention the fact that sex keeps your sex hormones (estrogen and testosterone) in balance, which can cause a whole host of issues when they get out of whack.
• No Incontinence Here:Sex is really good for a woman’s pelvic floor muscles. Some 30% of women will develop incontinence as they age. Having a strong pelvic floor means the risk of incontinence is drastically reduced.
• Boosts Libido:Many couples, regardless of age want to have more sex. Seems fairly obvious, but having sex makes you more interested in sex. You know that old saying, “Where attention flows, energy goes." Put more attention on sex, the more often you’ll have it.
What Should I Do to Maintain My Sexual Health As I Age
As we get older, we may experience different opinions about our sexuality, performance, and even body image. Staying clear about the life we want to live, and the sex we want to have with our partners will help steer us in the right direction. When we get a bit lost, consider some of the following tips:
Talk to Your Partner:Whether you’re having medical issues, negative self-image, low libido, or wanting to try something new to spice up your love life; speaking with your partner is key at any age. Something you may believe to be a barrier could end up not being a big deal at all, or vice versa. Open communication and honest dialogue will help keep you and your partner close and help you explore your sex life together as time goes on.
Experiment:If you experience some setbacks in the bedroom, consider it a queue to experiment. Some of the old tried and true methods may no longer work for you. Try a different time of day to have sex. Allow for more time to play. Utilize lubricants and toys. Even consider ways to be intimate that aren’t sex as a way to keep connected and the fires burning.
Maintain Health:By taking care of your own health, you can stave off many sexual dysfunction related issues. Exercise regularly, eat a balanced diet. Keep your blood pressure and cholesterol low so you don’t require medications that could hinder your arousal.
Practice Safe Sex:This is something to consider as we age, but perhaps isn’t discussed a whole lot. As we get older, and perhaps take on new partners in later years – practicing safe sex is just as important as it is for younger couples. In fact, incidences of seniors contracting HIV has been on the rise over the past decade. Just because you aren’t concerned about getting pregnant, doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be careful. Be sure to use a condom and get tested for any STIs before engaging in unprotected sex with a new partner.
Consult Your Doctor:Though sexual dysfunction can affect many seniors, not many actually take the time to discuss them with their doctors. By opening a dialogue, you could pave the way for being treated for ED, or perhaps put on medications that don’t interfere with your sex life. Your doctor is there to help you stay healthy, so be sure to utilize their knowledge in all areas of your life.
Keep in mind; elderly couples with active sex lives tend to be happier in life and with their marriages. You can’t stop getting older, but you can keep the fire alight in the bedroom with just a little attention. Defy societal pressures and stereotypes by having a sexy, satisfying bedroom life with your partner.
Carissa Andrews is an passionate author and freelancer from Minnesotan with a focus in creative writing.
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