Intimacy is an ageless need that doesn’t just stop at retirement. To state the obvious, there are many physical and emotional benefits to a fulfilling sex life, whether you’re 25 or 75 years old. Sex can burn fat, reduce anxiety and cause the brain to release endorphins. It can express closeness and solidify relationships.
As outlined in our post Sex After 65: The Good and Bad News, a recent study found that forty percent of males and females aged 65 to 80 continue to be sexually active, and almost three-quarters report to be satisfied with their relations.
Understandably, sex as a septuagenarian or octogenarian might not be as frequent, spontaneous or robust as it was in your younger years, but it some ways it can be better. Older adults tend to be more self confident and self aware about their sexuality, knowing what works and doesn’t work for them. No longer pressured by unrealistic expectations, you may feel more comfortable in your aged body than you did in your inhibited youth. Released from the full-time demands of family and work, many older couples are finally able to connect and indulge in one another without constant distractions. You don’t need to be a millennial to have satisfying sex, and after a lifetime of loving your partner and learning about yourself, it can be the most sexually fulfilling time of life.
It can take a little focused effort, however. If you don’t make a conscious commitment to nurture those needs on a regular basis things can grow a little stale between the senior sheets, especially if you’re with a long term partner or if health issues complicate matters.
Is it time to shake up your routine and jumpstart your stagnant senior sex life? Here are some helpful tips:
As you age, you might have to rethink what sexual intimacy means to you and your partner. What felt good on your younger body may change as you grow older. On the flip side, you might now enjoy some things you didn’t care for in the past. It’s okay to try new ideas and vary up your repertoire.
Address Medical Issues
Vaginal dryness is a common issue with older women. This can often be managed with lubricants and moisturizers, topical and oral hormonal treatments, and non-hormonal treatments, including plant-based supplements with estrogenic effects. The best advice, however, is to keep having regular sex, as eventually that action can help replenish your natural lubrication.
Pelvic floor muscle dysfunction is another common issue that can impede senior women in their sex life, as weakened pelvic muscles can lead to incontinence. Between 25 to 65 percent of women with urinary incontinence experience this during sex, which can make some reluctant to even try getting intimate. Definitely talk to your doctor about this concdern, as treatment can significantly improve your sexual function. For women with uterine prolapse, surgery can improve matters greatly.
As for older men, erectile dysfunction (ED) is one of the most common issues affecting their sex lives. Talk to your doctor to get an accurate diagnosis and look for the root cause. Erectile dysfunction treatments include hormonal treatments, pumps, implants and medications such as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis. Other simple measures can help with mild erectile dysfunction, like positioning the woman on top.
As men age, they naturally produce less testosterone. This usually leads to a lower sex drive and so some men may require more stimulation to achieve/maintain an erection or to climax. The years of spontaneous quickies may be behind you, but with a little patience you can indulge in longer, loving, drawn out lovemaking sessions that can be intimate and satisfying for both partners. Orgasm doesn’t have to be the primary goal.
Depression is a growing concern among aging adults, which can certainly zap one’s libido. Work with your doctor, a therapist and even a sex therapist if this is impacting your ability to enjoy your sex life.
Open, honest communication is vital for good sex. If your partner seems to have lost interest in sex, talk about it – often easier said than done. Don’t just assume you know what’s going on with your partner, even if you’ve been together for years. Nobody is a mind reader when it comes to this subject. Open up and share your desires, dislikes, boundaries and concerns with each other. And remember, a little humor can make the whole process more reassuring, comfortable and enjoyable.
Set the Mood for Romance
Don’t forget to date, flirt and woo each other, even if you’re an old married couple. Put a little effort into fostering that connection. Dress up, enjoy a nice dinner, have some good conversation, compliment each other. Set the mood with candles, wine, flowers, music, kisses, massages. All the effort you would put in to courting a new partner should apply to familiar mate, too. Show them you genuinely care, and it just might ignite a sexual spark.
Just Do It
Sex therapists often recommend the Nike approach that older couples “just do it,” even if a burning desire isn’t there in the moment. They advise you to fake it til you make it, as going through the motions just might uncork some real yearnings once you get started. Even if you aren’t in the mood, know that every time you engage in sexual play, you are training your body to respond to the stimulation. Use it or lose it.
Having regular sex has some physiological benefits that should not be overlooked. For example, women might complain that their vaginal lubrication has decreased with age, but intercourse can actually help increase lubrication over time. Vaginal elasticity, which often diminishes through the years, can also be improved with regular relations. The “I’m too tired” excuse can be countered with the fact that orgasm releases oxytocin, a hormone that helps with sleep and stress release. Don’t fall into a celibate rut because you think it takes too much effort to even try. The more regularly you do it, the more you’ll grow to want to do it.
Shake Things Up
You’re never too old to try a new position, explore a new location, engage in fantasies, do some role-playing, use sex toys or do whatever it takes to keep sex fresh and fun.
Seniors who are sampling new partners need to be reminded that safe sex practices are crucial at any age. Unplanned pregnancy may no longer be the concern, but sexually transmitted diseases have no age limits. If you’re getting back into the dating pool after a divorce, breakup or death of a partner, brush up on what you need to do to protect yourself. Incidences of STDs among seniors are on the rise, including syphilis, gonorrhea, chlamydia, genital warts, genital herpes and hepatitis B.