There is a common myth out there that sex is only for the young. This is untrue. Whilst ageing can see us engaging in sexual activity less frequently and with some modifications to the way that we did it in our 20s, levels of sexual satisfaction among older populations can remain high.
As we age there many factors that can affect our sex life. Changes in hormone production, medications and illnesses are all things that can have a negative effect upon our sexual functioning. For men the decrease in the amount of testosterone produced can see erections which are less reliable and take more stimulation to achieve and maintain. For women there are issues such as a decrease in the level of vaginal lubrication and loss of libido. However these physical changes often do not take away our desire to engage with sexual behaviour or to be close with our partner.
Sometimes these changes can be concerning and we can grieve the loss of our previous functioning and can end up feeling quite depressed. However with some modifications to how we engage in sexual behaviour we can continue to have a healthy and fulfilling sex life well into our older years. While there are lots of medical solutions to the physical changes of aging these need to be combined with a change in the way that do things in order for them to be of most benefit. Whilst medications can fix the physical symptoms they are poor at assisting with the intimacy and relationship side of our sex life. It is this aspect that is the key to ongoing sexual satisfaction.
The key to a healthy sexual relationship as we age is good communication. It is important that we are able to talk to our partner about our wants, needs and desires. It is also important that we feel safe enough to talk about the physical changes that are happening for us and the impact that it may have upon sexual performance. We need to acknowledge that our body is not going to respond the same way it did when we were younger and to be able to talk about other things that we can do beyond penetration and orgasm that are fun and sexually fulfilling.
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What can happen when our body doesn’t respond the way that we would like is that we tend to panic and worry that our partner is going to be disappointed or that we are not finding them desirable. When this happens we tend to avoid any sexual contact because we are afraid and feel too embarrassed to talk about it. Instead when we acknowledge that these things are going to happen and can talk to our partner about this, we can then offer them reassurance that we still desire them and also look at engaging in other sexual activities that are just as fun and pleasurable.
It is important to remember that there are a whole range of sexual behaviours that don’t involve sexual penetration and orgasm. When we are younger we can ignore these at times because our sexual arousal response is more intense and happens more quickly. As we age it is much more important that we pay attention to them. Touch is one of the most important aspects of a healthy sexual relationship. Touch is the thing that brings people closer together. Being able to touch our partner in both an erotic and non-erotic manner enhances intimacy, closeness and our sense of sexual satisfaction. So as we age the ability of a couple to use many skills from our sexual toolbox will mean that there is less reliance on the performance of our genitalia.
Below are some quick tips to assisting to achieve a more realistic sex life:
Establish a healthy talking relationship with your partner about your sex life. Talk about wants, needs, desires and changes
Be realistic about how your body responds at the age that you are
Don’t panic when something goes ‘wrong’. Keep engaged with your partner but change the sexual activity that you are doing
There is so much more to sex than just penetration and orgasm. Have fun and play around with the many types of sexual behaviour
Tell us today, how do you achieve a fulfilling sex life in your 60s? What has changed? Is it better now?