Is your sex life ageing well?

As you age your sex life may wane, or not, but one thing’s for sure, being older doesn’t necessarily mean your sex life has to go stale.

Sex is important for your wellbeing – it’s an instinctive thing that has a higher purpose, beyond procreation. Having sex releases chemicals in your brain and body that can improve your wellbeing, protect your health, be good for your brain and keep you out of ‘the dumps’.

Above all, sex is not just an activity for younger people.

Sure, sex over the age of 55 can present challenges, with the obvious ones being menopause and erectile dysfunction, medical issues and other hormonal changes. The older mind can also present barriers to a healthy sex life.

But, unless the medical issues are serious, all of these hurdles are surmountable.

Keeping an open mind and experimenting with your sex life can lead to an emotionally and physically fulfilling life.

All you need is the desire, and the rest can be managed.

And yes, sex at the age of 70 or 80 may not be the same as it was when you were 20. However, in some ways it can be even better. With ageing comes confidence. By now you know what you want, what works for you sexually and you have a certain self-awareness that can lead to satisfying and stimulating sex.

You just have to be realistic.

Read more: Sex secrets of long-term couples

The Irish Longitudinal Study on Ageing (TILDA) revealed that sex gets better with age. Many say that it benefits from more self-confidence, less distraction, more experience and sexual confidence that matures into a higher level of love and intimacy.

These same surveys show that many seniors stay sexually active well into their later years.

With the benefit of their wisdom, you too can enjoy a healthy sex life in your senior years. Here are a few tips from those who’ve been at it and keep at it.

Patience
Sexual response time may be longer, and your body may not exactly be following what your brain desires. This is when a bit of help is required. Certain creams and lubricants can help, as can a renewed focus on foreplay and changes to existing sexual behaviour.

Rekindling the fire
Sure, medical and emotional challenges can make it difficult to get into the swing of things, so try thinking of sex as a matter of good health. More sex can do wonders for your wellbeing, keep you in shape physically, and it has many other physical and mental health benefits. Think of it as essential to good health, and the rest should follow.

It’s about more than ‘sex’
To get things going, it’s important to focus on physical and emotional intimacy, with a focus on closeness, tenderness and contact.

Coping with ED
It’s not uncommon for men to experience erectile dysfunction (ED) as they age. It could be a simple ageing thing, lower testosterone, or it may be due to certain medicines you take or other health issues. A change to diet and exercise may help, as can herbal supplements and ED meds, but you should always consult your doctor before attempting to restore your libido by any of these means.

Read more: Why sex matters to men

Getting one up on hormones
Women, too, may suffer a loss of libido, due to ageing and hormonal changes, such as a lack of oestrogen. Again, dietary changes and variations on your exercise regimen can help, as can herbal or medicinal assistance. Always check with your GP first before deciding on a course of action.

Find ‘your thing’
Unless you’re a yogi or in exceptional physical shape, you may not be able to contort yourself like you used to. So, start slow, then experiment with foreplay and different positions and find the one that works for you (or, hopefully, the ones!).

Safe sex is still important
For this generation, contraception may have been primarily used to prevent pregnancy, but along with an active sex life comes the very real prospect of sexually transmitted disease. So, if you’re ‘out and about’, it’s important to practise safe sex.

Read more: Sex still important to seniors

You won’t die
Many older people fear that having sex may lead to a heart attack. Unless you have a history of heart problems, and if your health is generally good, you won’t die from having sex. In fact, having more sex can lessen your risk of heart failure. If you’re really worried, though, get some advice from your doctor.

Get over it
Some people may be embarrassed by their sexuality. This can be due to the popular cultural idea of ‘who’ should be having sex. Television movies and the advertising industry do little to promote a healthy sex life in older people. In fact, it often denigrates senior sex. Ignore what other people say, take no notice of advertisements of pretty young things ‘getting busy’, and instead, focus on your own wants and needs.

Living longer gives you more reason to enjoy sex
It’s no secret that we are living longer and staying much healthier later in life. So why then is it unfathomable to think that you can’t also enjoy sex well into your later years? The short answer is, you can. Along with maintaining a good health program, including regular exercise and a good diet, advances in health, psychology and science mean you should be able to have a healthy sex life right up until the day you die. And who wouldn’t want that?

Do you have a healthy sex life? Can you share any tips with our members about how to stay sexually active well into your later years?

Health disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

Written by Leon Della Bosca

Leon Della Bosca has worked in publishing and media in one form or another for around 25 years. He's a voracious reader, word spinner and art, writing, design, painting, drawing, travel and photography enthusiast. You'll often find him roaming through galleries or exploring the streets of his beloved Melbourne and surrounding suburbs, sketchpad or notebook in hand, smiling.
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