Great Senior Sex: Tips for Staying Active in the Bedroom
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Sex, even well into your senior years, can be a wonderful part of your life. For many older adults, lovemaking is an enjoyable adventure that offers a wide variety of life-enhancing benefits like improved self-esteem, better sleep, and greater overall well-being. Even well into old age, physical intimacy can boost a person's health and happiness.
That may be why most older adults between the ages of 65 and 80 see it as a necessity. According to the National Poll on Healthy Aging, 76 percent said that making love—at any age—is an important aspect of romantic relationships.
Here's what you should know about having sex after 60, 70, and beyond:
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1. Physical Changes and Challenges
It's normal and natural to experience physical changes as you get older. And seniors generally tend to have more health problems than younger people. Even so, it's possible to effectively manage (or even overcome) some of the physical issues that could be hindering your intimacy.
As Men Age:
- They naturally produce less testosterone. So, they tend to have a lower sex drive and require more stimulation to achieve and sustain an erection and reach climax.
- Their orgasms are often shorter and less powerful. And after ejaculating, they tend to need more time before achieving an erection again.
- Full or partial erectile dysfunction (ED) can also become a problem. But it can often be effectively treated. In fact, by treating underlying physical or emotional problems, many men can restore some or all of their erectile function.
As Women Age:
- Their sexual health may be affected by lower hormone levels.
- Vaginal dryness can become an issue. (After menopause, many women naturally produce less lubrication during erotic activity. Their bodies simply don't respond to arousal or stimulation in the same way.)
- Their vaginas may become thinner and less elastic. As a result, vaginal penetration can be painful without enough personal lubrication.
In addition, some women find it more difficult to become aroused after menopause or surgical procedures such as hysterectomies. It may take them longer to feel excited, and their orgasms may become less intense. Or they may lose interest in sex altogether, at least temporarily. Plus, many women over 60 experience other kinds of physical problems—such as mild urinary incontinence—that cause them extra anxiety during times of intimacy.
Other Health Conditions
Some of the most common medical issues that can affect a person's sexual well-being include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- Hormonal imbalances
That's why it's essential to tell your doctor about any problems you're having with physical intimacy. Even if you aren't experiencing any other symptoms, a decrease in sexual interest or function may be an early sign of a medical problem. (For instance, erectile dysfunction is sometimes an early symptom of heart disease.)
Also, if you are recovering from surgery or illness, listen to your doctor's advice about when you can safely start making love again.
Some antidepressants, antihistamines, acid-blocking meds, and blood pressure drugs can impair a person's libido or sexual function. So it's a good idea to inform your doctor of any issues you may be having in the bedroom. He or she might be able to prescribe something different for you.
Of course, you may also be a candidate for certain medications frequently prescribed for intimacy problems. For example, men with erectile dysfunction are often prescribed drugs like Viagra and Cialis. And women with vaginal dryness are sometimes prescribed special gels, creams, or patches as part of hormone replacement therapy.
No matter what, you should always talk to your doctor before taking any over-the-counter supplements or medications, even if they are marketed as "natural."
Regular physical activity can increase your overall energy level, self-confidence, and blood circulation. Plus, it's good for your heart. And anything good for your heart also tends to be good for your sexual health.
A heart-healthy diet is often prescribed for men and women who experience dysfunction during erotic activities. Many dietitians recommend foods low in saturated fat, sodium, and sugar but high in fiber, essential vitamins and minerals, and healthy, unsaturated fats. So eating a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, and nuts can be especially beneficial. In addition, limiting your alcohol consumption to no more than one drink per day is wise.
Sex for Seniors - Frequency
Seeking erotic pleasure more frequently can lead to a stronger libido and better sexual health overall. That's why it can be beneficial to make love even when you aren't in the mood. Every time you engage in intimate activity, you are training your body to respond better to the stimulation. And you don't need to have a partner each time. Solo masturbation can be just as effective.
2. Mental and Emotional Barriers
Sexual problems are often caused or made worse by psychological obstacles. Like many seniors, you may consciously or subconsciously grapple with issues like:
- Performance anxiety
- Relationship problems
- Fear about your health or financial situation
- The death of your partner and the resulting loss of physical intimacy
Depression can also be a major barrier. For older adults with this condition, sexual desire, arousal, and pleasure can be very elusive.
Like other medical conditions, depression can be treated. In addition to medication, talk therapy can sometimes help seniors who have depression that interferes with their ability to be physically intimate.
Seeing a professional mental health counselor or therapist can help you deal with various other obstacles.
Mainstream sex therapy is another option. It doesn't involve any physical contact. Sex therapy is a specialized form of psychotherapy that can help people overcome, cope with, or adapt to challenges or limitations related to erotic intimacy, including functional issues like erectile dysfunction or vaginal pain.
Adults of all ages can benefit from individual or couple's therapy, including seniors and the elderly.
Ask for a referral from your doctor or locate a therapist near you through the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (AASECT) or the Society for Sex Therapy & Research (SSTAR).
For the singles who would enjoy and benefit from companionship but haven't successfully made the leap into the dating world yet, online dating could be a simple, unintimidating place to start. While there are cautions that are important when meeting people from the internet in real life, using a reputable website and service can make a big difference. There are even senior-specific dating sites geared specifically to matching up older singles looking for love, a sexual connection, or both (and a lot more!).
3. Removing Expectations
Making orgasms the driving focus of erotic activity can sometimes backfire. That's why it's often better to focus on exploring all kinds of pleasure rather than trying to achieve one type of outcome. Paradoxically, when people let go of their expectations, they're more likely to experience orgasms and other pleasurable highs.
4. Communicating With Your Partner
Open communication is essential for maintaining good relationships. Lack of honest communication is often one of the biggest causes of a breakup or no-sex marriage. Yet, according to the National Poll on Healthy Aging, only 36 percent of seniors between the ages of 65 and 80 would discuss a sexual problem they were having with a spouse or partner.
Before you can experience a satisfying sexual relationship with each other, you and your partner need to share your most intimate feelings. Talk honestly about things like:
- Concerns and anxieties
- Needs and desires
Make sure your communication is a two-way street by listening to your partner without judgment or interruption. And remember that you can be playful about communicating. A little humor can make the process more comfortable, enjoyable, and reassuring.
5. Changing Your Routine
Particularly for older couples, lovemaking can become boring and predictable. But it doesn't have to stay that way. Purposefully breaking up your routine can help you discover a whole new world of excitement. Even something as simple as choosing a new time of day (for example, you may have more energy for sex in the morning or afternoon vs. the evening). Here are some other things to try:
- New sexual positions
- Different rooms or locations
- Various kinds of outercourse (i.e., physical intimacy without penetration)
- Dates that involve one partner giving pleasure without the other one reciprocating (reversing roles for the next date)
- Fantasy role-playing
Anytime you try something new, be sure to follow up with each other and share your feelings about it. What did you like best? Would you try it again? Did you learn anything about yourself or your partner? What else do you want to try?
6. Setting the Mood
As we get older, many of us experience slower arousal. It may take longer for our desire to ignite during romantic activities. That's why many sexually active seniors make it a habit to do things with their partners that set the mood — like flirting, kissing, or giving each other massages — well in advance of getting naked.
7. Using Protection
Physical intimacy can be risky, regardless of your age. Even for the elderly, it comes with the possibility of sexually transmitted infections (STIs—previously referred to as STDs). In fact, according to athenahealth, among older Americans, infection rates continue to climb for diseases like syphilis, gonorrhea, and chlamydia. Other common STIs include HIV, herpes, HPV, and trichomoniasis. As you age, it becomes harder for your body to fight such infections.
An infected person can pass his or her STI on to you through blood or bodily fluids such as semen or vaginal fluid. And because infected people don't always have symptoms (and may not be aware of their infections), you can't know for sure whether they are healthy or not just based on their word or appearance.
So it's crucial to practice safe sex, especially if you are not in a monogamous relationship with someone you completely trust. No method of protection is 100 percent effective. However, you can greatly reduce your risk of contracting an STI by taking steps such as:
- Using a new, unexpired condom for vaginal or anal penetration
- Using a condom or dental dam for oral sex
Before making love with a new partner, always make sure that each of you has been tested for STIs. Be honest with each other. (If you are infected, keeping that information a secret is unethical and dangerous to your partner.) And if either of you has multiple partners, be sure to get tested regularly. Having multiple partners greatly increases the risk of contracting or passing on an infection.
Whenever you see your doctor, be open about your activities so that he or she can appropriately assess your risk and screen you for STIs if necessary. Many infections can be successfully treated.
8. Personal Lubrication
For older women with vaginal dryness, lubrication can be especially vital. Whether having sex with a partner or masturbating solo, lube is a simple way to make the whole experience much more comfortable and pleasurable.
Choosing the right type of personal lubricant for the sexual activity you engage in is crucial. (You may need to buy multiple kinds of lube since they have different uses and limitations.)
9. Sex Toys for Seniors
A good toy can do wonders for your ability to reach maximum pleasure—with or without a partner. Seniors often do best with soft, lightweight, and ergonomic sex toys. Here are a few examples of sex toys that have been recommended as good options for seniors, which are available for purchase through the following Amazon affiliate links:
10. Going Beyond Intercourse
You don't have to engage in any kind of penetration to have a satisfying erotic life. Outercourse (i.e., sex without penetration) can be incredibly enjoyable. And you can still experience orgasms (maybe even better ones).
For a lot of seniors, outercourse eliminates major anxieties. For example, women don't have to worry about vaginal dryness or pain. And men don't have to worry about erectile dysfunction. Even with a flaccid penis, a man can reach climax with the right stimulation.
11. Best Sexual Positions for Seniors
When you want to engage in intercourse but find it hard on your body, it's time to change things up a little. Using new sexual positions often becomes especially important for seniors who want to have sex over 70 years of age. That's because back and knee problems are particularly common among seniors and the elderly. But regardless of age, a new position can make intercourse easier and more comfortable.
Some of the best sex positions for seniors are those in which your weight is evenly distributed over your joints or the strain on your back is alleviated. But every couple is different, so you and your partner may need to try various positions before hitting on one or two that work well for both of you. Here are three of the most commonly recommended positions for older adults:
- Missionary plank: With the woman on her back, the man positions himself on top, resting his weight evenly between his forearms on either side of her. He also bends his knees and rests them on either side. This allows his weight to be off his partner and makes it easier to sustain comfortable thrusting. The woman can put her feet on his lower legs for extra traction and comfort. With small tweaks, the missionary plank position can also be reversed to have the woman on top.
- Spooning: The woman lays on one side of her body while the man cuddles up behind her on the same side of his body. This allows the man to penetrate her vagina comfortably without pressure on his arms or knees. The woman can also lift her top leg over his to make entry easier. From this position, each partner can control the rhythm. For added comfort, the woman can place pillows between her legs, or the man can use pillows or wedge cushions behind his back to help support the weight of their bodies.
- Chair: For this position, a couple needs a chair without armrests that is slim enough and low enough that both people can comfortably touch the floor with their feet. The man sits in the chair, and the woman sits on his lap while facing him. The woman can give extra support to herself by putting her hands on the man's shoulders or on top of the chair's backrest. This allows for easy penetration, and the woman can comfortably control the rhythm.
12. Books and Other Resources
The following books are specifically about sex for seniors, which are available for purchase through the following Amazon affiliate links:
- A Frenchwoman's Guide to Sex After Sixty by Marie de Hennezel
- All Night Long: How to Make Love to a Man Over 50 by Barbara Keesling
- Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex by Joan Price
- The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50: How to Maintain—or Regain—a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life by Joan Price
- The Ultimate Guide to Sex and Disability: For All of Us Who Live with Disabilities, Chronic Pain, and Illness by Miriam Kaufman, Cory Silverberg, and Fran Odette
- The Menopause Manifesto: Own Your Health with Facts and Feminism by Dr. Jen Gunter
- Yoga for Pelvic Floor Health: A Whole-Body Approach to Strengthening & Healing by Leah Wrobel
In addition, it's worth exploring various online resources. One of the most compelling websites is OMGYES. With a one-time payment, you get permanent access to a large range of tasteful videos that can teach you practical techniques for female pleasure (including talking openly about your body and communicating your needs). The website features some older women and is designed to empower both men and women of every age.
There's No Age Limit on Good Sex
By learning more about your aging body and enlisting the help of your doctor, therapist, and romantic partner, good sex is achievable at any age.