Senior Sex Sexual Fun After Fifty

April 18, 2006

By Lisa Lawless, PhD, CEO
www.HolisticWisdom.com
Reprinted with permission

Having worked with seniors in retirement, assisted living and nursing facilities I can tell you that sex does not end at fifty, nor should it! Youth has no superiority over senior sex, it is simply different.

Men and women can enjoy a new world of sexuality often overlooked in youth. Healthy seniors tend to be more at ease with themselves, their body image and where they are in their life which can lead to out of this world sex.

Focusing on the art of sex through a higher level of sexual education can feed the creative juices for seniors. Using Tantra, Kama Sutra and other forms of sexual techniques while utilizing products designed to make senior sex easier can be just what makes sex over fifty beyond fabulous.

What Are The Challenges Of Senior Sex?

Aging Sex Myths

Men may assume that as they age, they will simply be able to rely on Viagra to help them through any problems they may experience. However, Viagra only works on 2/3rds of men who use it, and can’t always overcome medical and psychological aspects that may be the cause of sexual dysfunction. It is important for men to understand that just like women, they will need to be educated about their sexuality, what health factors influence it, and what they can do to improve it.

On the other hand a common scenario for women is that they often buy into the false premise that with menopause comes an automatic decline in sexual desire. If her male partner believes this as well he may hesitate initiating intimacy and in turn the woman can misinterpret that as lack of interest on his part. She may, consequently back away herself. This kind of false assumption can lead to intimacy problems within the relationship all because of a belief that is outdated.

It is important that both men and women communicate not just with their physicians about their sexual functioning but also their partners as it is quite possible for most seniors to have a rich and fulfilling sex life solo or with a partner.

Society’s Perception

National surveys are now reporting that the public’s perceptions have begun to change about older women. Women over 50 are beginning to be seen to be just as beautiful as those under 30 and women over 50 agree with 91% of women over 50 who are happy with their looks.

Research by Allure Magazine looked at modern attitudes about beauty, confidence and success. Surprisingly it is not plastic surgery that is making the shift in attitude… their study revealed that 66 percent of men opposed their lovers getting plastic surgery.

There is a shift in looking at how to approach aging, with today’s older Americans more active, whether it’s working a job, volunteering or traveling. Today, they are more vital and active because of advances in medicine, psychology, and holistic health.

With baby boomers coming into their sixties, more seniors are standing up to show themselves for the viable, seasoned, beautiful people that they are. If someone sees aging as depressing, hopeless and a sad state of being… then it will be, if they choose to see aging as a rich and fulfilling part of their life’s adventure then it will be. Life is what we make it, and starting with a proactive approach to anything in life is how to make it fulfilling.

Seniors today are taking more control of their lives than ever before and senior sex is not only on the rise, but getting even better!

Senior Sexual Health

It is true that conditions such as heart problems, high blood pressure, diabetes and other chronic illnesses can put a damper on sexuality. This can also occur with medication side effects. However, this again is why it is important to communicate with one’s physician, ask questions and become educated on how to manage such medical obstacles while still achieving a healthy sex life.

Looking at AARP’s recent study, Sexuality at Mid-life and Beyond confirms that relationships and sexuality remain important throughout life, thus sexual functioning is an important issue for seniors.

When men experience softer erections, erectile dysfunction, and loss of desire and women experience vaginal dryness, clitoral desensitization and loss of desire you can be sure that this impacts the quality of life for any senior.

Medications, health conditions and illness can affect your sexual drive. If you have questions about how prescriptions will affect senior sexuality, check with your physician or pharmacist. If you notice sexual problems, seek medical advice to rule out serious conditions and to find resources on how to address them. Your health care provider may be able to help you stay fit and active, as long as you’re willing to talk about what’s bothering you.

Women’s Sexual Health

A woman’s sexual health is not only affected by physical factors, but is also impacted by her psychological approach to aging. It is very important to remember that how you approach aging is a crucial part of how it will play out.

Remember that the physical, mental, emotional and spiritual health of someone is all interconnected. If you take care of yourself physically, emotionally and mentally you will have a better and more fulfilling sex life for yourself and with a partner.

If you are a woman there are some age-related physical changes that may affect you sexually such as menopause and reduced estrogen levels. As you age, intercourse may become less comfortable or even painful.

Your vagina loses elasticity as you age, which means it doesn’t stretch as far or as easily, and lubrication takes longer even when you are sexually aroused. Some women experience a burning sensation during intercourse or light vaginal bleeding afterward. Longer foreplay may help stimulate your natural lubrication, and you can use a water-based personal lubricant to make up the difference.

You may also want to talk to your health professional about estrogen cream, and an estrogen ring, or another estrogen replacement therapy to improve your body’s hormone balance.

Having intercourse regularly can help you maintain lubrication and elasticity. On the other hand, if you haven’t had intercourse for a while, it will take time to stretch your vagina enough to accommodate a penis comfortably. Talk to your partner about what you’re experiencing, and take it slow to enhance your arousal and to minimize your discomfort.

Men’s Sexual Health

If you are a man, it may take you longer to achieve an erection as you get older. In addition, your erections may not be as firm or last as long as they did when you were younger. Aging will also lengthen your time between possible ejaculations. Talk frankly with your partner, and try different positions that may make inserting your penis easier and more enjoyable for both of you. You should also talk to your doctor or health professional if you’re having trouble with impotence, maintaining an erection or reaching orgasm. You may require medication that can help you achieve and maintain an erection. In some cases, vascular surgery, penile vacuum pumps or other therapies may be advised.

Seniors & STDs

Though single baby boomers are having sex regularly, only 39 percent invariably use protection, according to the AARP study. “To me, those are pretty alarming figures,” says Linda Fisher, AARP’s research director. Many boomers just don’t have a sense of danger about sex. They came from an age before the HIV epidemic and never learned how to negotiate condom use or testing with their partners. The number of new HIV infections among older women is rising rapidly: between 1998 and 2000, women’s share of AIDS cases among those 50 and older nearly doubled, from 8.9 percent to 15 percent.

Thus, it is especially important that seniors be educated on STDs and the risks that come with them. After all, physical aging can be hard enough.

Psychological Stress

Fear of aging, loss and death are fairly common from time to time in most people, however if these fears are dwelled upon they can wreck havoc on the psyche. This in turn affects sexual functioning as the mind and body are very much interconnected. Loss of sexual desire as well as ability to perform from erectile dysfunction to vaginal dryness can occur.

An interesting study recently showed that men who were treated for Erectile Dysfunction in turn helped their female partners sexual functioning. Even though their female partners had previously been suffering from loss of sexual desire and vaginal dryness, once the men were treated the women’s physiology changed. The women showed physiological changes in lubrication, orgasm and arousal. One might conclude that feeling desired is an important aspect of sexual functioning.

Changes in aging can lower your interest in sex, make it harder to become aroused, and even interfere with your ability to connect emotionally with your partner. The stress of worrying about how you will perform, or whether you’re worthy of sexual attention from your partner, can lead to impotence in men and lack of arousal or orgasm in women.

The best way to address these problems is honest and open communication with your partner. Explain the anxieties you’re feeling, ask for and accept reassurance, and take things slowly to avoid performance pressure.

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