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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.
Quality of life is deeply affected by sexual health. When men experience softer erections, erectile dysfunction and a loss of desire it can affect their sense of self esteem and even their sense of being a man. When a women experiences vaginal dryness, clitoral desensitization and loss of desire it can not only affect how she feels about sex, but also create painful sexual experiences which will make sex even more undesirable.
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.
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, sex can become uncomfortable and in some cases even painful.
As you age, your vagina will lose elasticity. This means that it will not stretch easily. You will also find that it takes longer for you to lubricate even when you are sexually aroused. In some situations, you may experience a sense of burning and even some bleeding from the friction of sexual intercourse. Increasing the length of foreplay, using vibrators to speed up the arousal process and using waterbased lubricants are all ways that can help to make a difference. In addition, you can also look into using an estrogen cream, estrogen ring or other estrogen replacement treatment to help regulate your body's hormones. This is something that should be discussed with a physician.
One thing to keep in mind is that the old adage of 'use it or lose it,' applies in that having sex regularly will actually help you to maintain your ability to lubricate and have elasticity. If you have not had sex in a while, it may take your vagina a while to accommodate a penis. In some cases, you may want to use a vaginal dilator which will help you prepare. Also see our article on Vaginismus for more information on causes of vaginal tightening and bleeding.
For men, it may take longer to achieve an erection as you age. In addition to this, you may find that they do not last as long or are as firm as they once were. In addition, your ability to get an erection after you have had an ejaculation may take much longer than it used to. You should speak frankly with your partner about this as it is completely normal. Using things like penis rings, penis pumps and the combination of the two can be helpful.
If you are having difficulty with impotence, you should speak with your doctor as you may find that it is being caused by a health issue and it is important to rule that out.
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.
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 wreak 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 decrease your interest in sex. This can make it more difficult to become aroused and can even come between you and your partner in an emotional way. Stress from performance anxiety can affect your self esteem and make you start to feel that you are unworthy of your partner's affections. The best way to address these problems is through honest and open communication. It is important to express the anxiety that you are feeling. In a good relationship it is all right to ask for and accept reassurance from your partner. The two of you can work on ways to decrease the stress, have a sense of humor about it and explore sexual products that may help you as well.
Many people assume that seniors are free to focus on themselves, without kids in the house. However, some still have teenagers or even adult children still living at home and some have aging parents. Sandwiched in like this can make time for passion more complicated while trying to cope with maturing children’s and aging parent’s needs.
If this is the case, then a couple or individual must dedicate time just for themselves. Even if it is as simple as a nice, long, hot bath. Add some waterproof sex toys in there for good measure and you have got a mini vacation.
The other end of the spectrum is that some seniors are widowed or divorced and find themselves single again. This is a wonderful time for men and women to spend time experimenting with masturbation and educating themselves on sexuality so that they can provide themselves with sexual experiences they may have missed in their youth.
As baby boomers turn 60 more of them are single and while this generation's search for love and relationships is not new, what has changed is how they meet and why they date. Senior dating web sites are a hot trend with many web sites devoted to helping seniors find like minded partners.
Toss out any old preconceived ideas about giving up on sex as you age. That is utter nonsense. Seniors are fully capable of enjoying sexual pleasures that could put even their younger counter parts to shame. With viagra, hormone therapy, sex toys, manuals, how-to DVDs and pornography there are a lot more resources available to seniors than ever before.
Couples most often feel comfortable discussing their finances, taxes and death, but many feel uncomfortable talking about sex. These couples may feel ashamed or embarrassed discussing their sexual desires, fantasies and questions, and often do not know how to broach the subject with their partners.
However, this communication is an important way for seniors to find physical intimacy in new ways and sometimes needed ways later in life. Using articles, television shows, etc. are a good way to begin sexual discussions as a general topic and then leading it into more specific sharing.
According to a study by the AARP, more people now report consulting health professionals than any other single source of information (37% up from 26% in 1999). Books were the top choice in 1999 and now place second at 30%.
More than twice as many men as in 1999 report ever using some type of drugs or treatments to address problems with sexual performance (22 percent, up from 10% in 1999).
Sexual positions can make a big difference as you age. Often times sexual positions that you did in your youth create strain on you now. Strain and discomfort will affect your ability to sexually perform and it is why it is a good idea to give yourself the proper support you need to make sex pleasurable and creative.
If erectile dysfunction is an issue, you may want to try sex with the woman on top as this allows for less of a need for the penis to be full erect. You can also look into using strap ons, cockrings and other sexual enhancement products that will help make the penis more stiff.
The senior years can be a wonderful time of sexual sharing. Explore sexual play beyond intercourse by holding one another, sensual touching and kissing to share passionate feelings. Try experimenting with oral sex (Fellatio & Cunnilingus), anal play, prostate massage and masturbation as ways to sexually connect. If you are creative enough you will find all kinds of sensual ideas to make your bedroom hot and spicy.
Sex Toys for Seniors