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What comes into mind when you think of society’s oldest cohort exploring their sexuality?
For many, the implications are often negative. Some would think of it as licentious or unsightly behavior that’s past their years.
But that couldn’t be further from the truth. While it may not be the same as sex in your younger years, the elderly can have an active, fulfilling, and healthy sex life after 70.
In fact, 40% of Americans over 80 are still sexually active according to the National Council on the Aging.
Regardless, there’s still a groundbreaking difference in what sex means for a 20-year-old and an 80-year-old.
Let’s explore these differences.
What Changes in Sex As We Age?
For one, muscle mass tends to lose its strength by up to 30%–50% somewhere between your 30s and 80s. This loss of muscle strength leads to decreased testosterone levels in the body, which further contributes to less fulfilling sex life in our later life.
Erectile dysfunction is also a common trend among men approaching their 40s and beyond, with a Massachusetts study citing that a staggering 52% of older men have some mild form of erectile dysfunction.
Erectile dysfunction refers to the weakening of the penis to become as firm and large as it once was. The development of ED (or impotence) can be slow to develop or happen at a rapid pace depending on person to person.
Besides those major aforementioned changes, various physiological changes also occur in men and older adults when it comes to their sex lives. These include:
- Shorter orgasms
- A need for stimulation to get and hold an erection
- Less semen ejaculated
- Weaker ejaculation
- Larger time difference to achieve a second ejaculation
These physical changes may be scary and irreversible, but it’s more than possible to have a satisfying sex life by implementing suitable lifestyle changes.
You can still enjoy sex by decreasing the frequency of the activity, for instance. Talking with your partner about ways to adapt to your sexual difficulties is another way of making sexual activity easier for both of you too.
You may consult a licensed sexual professional to have a better understanding of how to make the most of your sexual health and sex life in your old age.
What Health Problems Do Seniors Face That Affect Sex Life?
As we age, we increase our chances of developing conditions, diseases, and illnesses that not only affect our physical health but sexual health as well.
Here are the common illnesses that can interfere with old sex lives:
- Heart disease
Many of these conditions are chronic and develop later in life.
Arthritis, for example, can make sex uncomfortable due to the inflammation and degeneration of the joints in your arms and legs.
Older men can have an enjoyable sex life with arthritis by partaking in warm baths and timing sexual contact when there are no flare-ups.
Another health problem that interferes with one’s sexual desire in later life is dementia. Dementia can cause a person to undergo drastic changes in their perception of their sex life.
In some cases, they may not know the difference between knowing their partner from someone else and exhibit negative sexual behavior towards others. This enhanced sexual desire is a condition known as hypersexuality.
If you suspect someone you know has a form of dementia, it’s crucial to take the right steps accordingly. Instead of berating them, talk gently with them and let them get expert advice from a licensed sexual health professional about hormone therapy or other treatments.
Heart diseases and strokes also appear in older adults more frequently than in the younger crowd. Heart diseases can cause blockages in the arteries and interfere with the flow of blood to multiple parts of the body. This interferes with sexual function among older adults, making it harder to become and stay aroused.
Strokes can leave you paralyzed depending on the severity of the condition. However, you can still feel pleasure and orgasm even if the body can’t move below the waistline.
Are Older People at Risk of Contracting Sexual Transmitted Diseases?
There are approximately 20,000,000 new cases of STDs every year, according to The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Sexual activity with someone with STDs – no matter whether you’re old or young – will leave you susceptible to contracting STDs. Age doesn’t affect the potency of the transmission, but the CDC claims that half of the new STD-positive individuals are people between the ages 15 to 24.
The sexually transmitted diseases that older adults should watch out for include the following:
- Hepatitis B
- Genital warts
- Chlamydial infection
- Genital herpes
If you’re sexually active with multiple people and participate in various forms of sex, such as oral sex, you may have an increased chance if you don’t protect yourself beforehand.
To protect yourself, always wear a condom once you have a full erection. You should also consult a doctor if concerning symptoms occur, such as discharge or burning sensations from your penis.
Tips for Better Sex Life for Seniors
Sex may not be the same as your 20s or 30s, but what (hopefully) hasn’t changed is the intimacy you’ve grown over the years with your partner.
If you and your partner are looking to foster that intimacy by participating in an active sex life, here are some tips you can employ for your future sessions:
- Take care of yourself. Eat a healthy diet, drink plenty of fluids, stay away from vices, and exercise.
- Reframe the sexual connection. Sex doesn’t have to be limited to strenuous activity or vaginal penetration. Explore kissing your partner, touching them, and participating in mutually satisfying forms of physical intimacy.
- Shift things up. If your physical body can’t handle its usual frequency, adapt by having sex at different times of the day or highlighting the romantic aspect over the sexual aspect.
- See a sexual health specialist. Find an expert to guide you through the hoops of old age and physical intimacy, and find the best middle ground.
Age shouldn’t stop you from fulfilling human pleasures. Don’t force things that you both feel you don’t need to, either. Romance your partner, be intimate with them, and enjoy your sex life your way.
The medical professionals at Paramount Men’s Medical Center in St. Louis specialize in treating conditions that impact men’s sexual health. Our concierge approach positions your unique case at the centerpoint of our focus. We don’t just give you a pill for ED and send you on your way. We treat the underlying issues that led to conditions such as ED, premature ejaculation, low testosterone, and more. Contact our office today to schedule an appointment.