Sex isn't the same as it was in your 20s — but it can still be satisfying. Contrary to common myths about sexuality and older adults, sex is not just for the young. Many seniors continue to enjoy their sexuality into their 80s and beyond.
A healthy sex life is not only fulfilling — but also good for other aspects of your life, including your physical health and self-esteem. Adapting to your changing body can help you maintain a healthy and satisfying sex life. But, you may have to make a few changes, such as allowing yourself more time to become aroused and talking more openly with your partner.
Senior sex: What changes as men get older?
As men age, testosterone levels decline and changes in desire and sexual functions are common. They include:
• Decreased sexual interest
• A need for more stimulation to achieve and maintain an erection and orgasm
• Shorter orgasms
• Less forceful ejaculation and less semen is ejaculated
• An elongated time-span is needed to achieve another erection after ejaculation
Your health also can have a big impact on your sex life and sexual performance. If you or your partner is in poor health or has a chronic health condition such as heart disease or arthritis, sex and intimacy become more challenging.
Certain surgeries and many medications such as blood pressure medications, antihistamines, antidepressants and acid-blocking drugs can affect sexual function. But just because you aren't as spry as you once were doesn't mean you can't enjoy a healthy sex life. You need to adapt to your changing body and know your limitations. Focus on ways of being sexual and intimate that works for you and your partner. Talk with your doctor about your concerns.
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Tips to maintaining a healthy sex life later in life:
• Communicate with your partner. Open discussion of sex has become much more common in the last 40 years, but many older adults come from a generation where sex remains a taboo subject. But openly talking about your needs, desires and concerns with your partner can make you closer and help you both enjoy sex and intimacy more.
• Talk to your doctor. Talking about sexual issues with your doctor, it can help you maintain a healthy sex life as you get older. Your doctor can help you manage chronic conditions and medications that affect your sex life. Many older men have trouble maintaining an erection or reaching orgasm. Your doctor may be able to prescribe medications and or other treatments for these problems.
• Expand your definition of sex. Intercourse is only one way to have fulfilling sex. Touching, kissing and other intimate sexual contact may be just as rewarding for both you and your partner. Realize that as you age, it is normal for you and your partner to have different sexual abilities and needs. Be open to finding new ways to enjoy sexual contact and intimacy.
• Change your routine. Simple changes can improve your sex life. Change the time of day when you have sex to a time when you have the most energy. Try the morning — when you're refreshed from a good night's sleep — rather than at the end of a long day. Because it might take longer for you or your partner to become aroused, take more time to set the stage for romance, such as a romantic dinner or an evening of dancing. Try a new sexual position or explore other new ways of connecting romantically and sexually.
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• Seek a partner if you're single. It is never too late for romance. It can be difficult starting a relationship after the loss of a spouse or being single for a long time — but socializing is well worth the effort for many single seniors. No one ever outgrows the need for emotional closeness and intimate love. If you start a relationship with a new partner, be sure to practice safe sex. Many older adults are unaware that they are still at risk of sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS.
• Stay healthy. Eating regular nutritious meals, staying active, not drinking too much alcohol, and not smoking or using illegal drugs are important for your overall health — and it can help your sexual performance. Follow your doctor's instructions in taking medications and managing any chronic health conditions.
• Stay positive. The changes that come with aging — from health problems to changes in appearance and sexual performance — leave many men feeling less attractive or feeling they are less capable of enjoying or giving sexual pleasure. Discussing your feelings with your partner can help. Feeling angry, unhappy or depressed has a strong impact on your sex life. Professional counseling or other treatment can improve your sex life — and your well-being.
Sex may not be the same for you or your partner as it was when you were young. But by adapting to your changing body, sex and intimacy can continue to be a fulfilling and rewarding part of your life.