Sex. It happens. It’s written into our DNA. So why is it that we don’t know more about it? Is it time to break down the walls and admit that we should talk about it more?
Sex plays a role in almost every facet of our lives. Ask Freud, he’ll tell you (if he were still alive, of course). Whether we’re willing to admit it or not, in one way or another, sex helps us decide what to wear, how we act, the things we like and is involved in almost every human interaction of which we partake.
There’s the old popular claim that men think about sex every seven seconds. Of course, there’s no science that backs this claim, and the evidence that it is pure conjecture is apparent in the fact that men would get absolutely nothing else done in life if this was indeed the case. It’s more like 19 times per day, but that still tells you that sex crosses men’s minds often enough for it to be significant.
For many older people, sex may no longer play such a huge role in life. It may slow down, though, but it doesn’t stop. And besides being a pleasurable act, there are wider benefits of having sex, be it hugging, kissing, fondling, foreplay or the final act.
Did you know that, in a study conducted by the Centre for Research in Psychology, Behavior and Achievement at Coventry University in England, sex has been linked to improved cognitive function in older people? That should be reason enough to get more involved in the discussion.
I read an article yesterday calling for the need for improved sex education across the board. And I agree. Sex is so much a part of us that I often wonder why there is an unspoken need to keep it locked inside. It should be more in the open.
Sex may be something that’s locked behind closed doors, but it is happening. The rapid rise in the instances of STIs throughout the senior community is evidence enough.
And that point alone is worthy of elaboration. Researchers say that the the reason STIs are on the rise is because of a lack of sex education amongst older people. In the past, sex education mainly involved how to prevent pregnancy and, post 1980s, how to have safe sex. It was all about anatomy and abstinence. Teaching of the emotional and social aspects were all but non-existent. And talk of the whole LGBT thing? Forget about it.
A recent study of aged care residents, conducted by the Australian Centre of Evidence Based Aged Care (ACEBAC) at La Trobe University, found that 40 per cent of those surveyed never received any education about sexuality and sexual health. Startling, no?
“Why is this information so actively withheld from us?” asks sex educator Cyndi Darnell. “There’s absolutely no reason for it apart from morality and shame, and that needs to stop.”
It’s not only adults who are missing out on sex education. In what should be a worrying indicator of the inadequate levels of sex education in schools, even today, pornography is playing a huge role in how young men view and treat women, and it’s turning them into sexual predators.
Finding pleasure zones, learning the emotional aspects of sexual relationships, as well as education about sexual preferences – these were subjects rarely broached in sex education classes. I mean, the anatomy of the clitoris wasn’t even discovered until 1998, so you can see how ‘blinkered’ our education was. And as sexologist Vanessa Muradian so eloquently states: “Is it any wonder older women say they’re [now] having the best sex of their lives?”
Pre-occupation with sex may have constituted a larger portion in our younger years, but a healthy sex life is still a very important contributor to quality of life in later years. It’s time to smash the taboos and talk about sex.
As published in The Conversation, “the Baby Boomer generation is renowned for challenging norms around sex and age”. Maybe this could constitute a new challenge for this progressive generation, to improve sex education for older people and to better inform healthcare practices around sex for older Australians. Just a thought…
Do you think there is a need for improved sexual education? How was/is your sex education experience? Do you feel that being better-informed about sex would have changed your outlook on life? Would you like to know more about sex?