Sex and Ageing

It is a well known saying that the young think they invented sex.

The trouble is, they also think they have a monopoly on all of the action too. They find it almost inconceivable, and even distasteful, that anyone over the age of 30 still has an active sex life, let alone one that may be better than theirs! Unfortunately, the television and glossy magazines encourage this opinion by only showing the young, fit and beautiful when sexual contact is being depicted. Even nowadays, they tend only to hint that older people might actually be having sex, and if they do, they usually make a joke of it. The truth is that the young, fit and beautiful are very much in the minority. Most people who are able to, or want to, continue to have an active sex life whether they are 19 or 90!

What is an ‘older’ person anyway?

You cannot be older or younger without someone to compare with. At 20 you are older than someone at 19, and at 100 you are older then someone at 99. This sounds obvious, but try to bear in mind that what matters is your attitude rather than your age. There is a real danger that you may be convinced you should not be having sex simply based on someone else noticing that you are older than them. This is simply not true – you have every much a right to a sex life as anyone else.

What should a sex life be like as you grow older?

It is exactly the same as it was when you were younger. You may choose not to engage in any sexual activity at all, at any age, and this is your right. You may simply engage in masturbation or a variety of activities with any number of partners of either sex. Today in our modern society, there is a much more open and relaxed attitude to sex than there has been. You have a greater freedom of choice now than probably at any other time. You have the right to make your own choices. Don’t allow yourself to be bullied into giving up an activity that can be enjoyable, stimulating and emotionally and physically beneficial.

How does ‘normal’ ageing affect sexual activity?

There is no single measure of what is normal in sexual activity – it varies from person to person. You have to decide what has been normal for you throughout your own life and consider any changes based on that. Growing older may well affect the quantity of sex you experience, but it does not necessarily have to affect the quality. As the years pass, you can expect to slow down in most physical activities you undertake, and sex is not any different from them. The desire for sex may decline due to hormonal changes in both men and women.

In men, more prolonged manual or oral stimulation may be needed to attain an erection which itself is not as rigid as before. Orgasm may be less frequent and less intense. Ejaculation may be less forceful. The period of time before another erection is possible – the refractory period – is likely to be longer.

In women, dryness may make penetration or stimulation of the vagina more difficult, more irritating or even painful. This can be easily resolved by the use of a lubricant. Following the menopause, with vaginal shrinkage, women may even find sex more intense or pleasurable. The lack of anxiety about becoming pregnant may even contribute towards sexual enjoyment.

A few other things can be taken into consideration to improve your sex life in later years.Routine can lead to boredom, which in turn can lead to a lack of arousal. Experimenting may intensify stimulation, and this can be as simple as changing the location in which sex usually takes place. The use of erotic materials or sex toys might also introduce an element of novelty and enhance arousal.

Sex requires some expenditure of energy – which can be in shorter supply than when younger. It stands to reason then that activity is likely to be more energetic after resting. Changing from late night sex to morning sex may have a beneficial effect. Take your time and enjoy the activity, whether shared or alone.

What is not ‘normal’ ageing?

Any illness can have a knock-on effect on sexual ability at all ages. As you grow older you become prone to those Illnesses which can take many years to manifest themselves. These can include heart disease, stroke, dementia, Parkinson’s disease, prostate problems and the long term effects of diabetes. It is illnesses like these which can have a detrimental effect on your sexual capability.

Some can be treated more successfully than others, and the treatments themselves can have an adverse effect on sexual function, but you should not automatically accept a poorer sex life as a result if you do not want to. There are many treatments for sexual difficulties which can restore sexual capacity, and you should have a look at those listed in this web site under the title sexual difficulties to give you some ideas.

Erection Difficulties

During the ageing process the levels of sensation felt by men decreases, therefore it may take more stimulation to create an erection. Oral or manual stimulation of his penis may be required to achieve an erection. Some men find that the only thing that will give them an erection is oral stimulation. It is not only the type but the amount of stimulation that may have to change as well. Some men will require almost constant stimulation of the penis to achieve an erection. If your partner finds this to be a difficult task, a vibrator could be used to give him/her a rest.

Avoid pulling too aggressively on the penis, as this tends to encourage blood flow toward the body. Squeezing the tip or shaft of the penis too tightly may also reduce its ability to become hard. While oral and manual stimulation are an effective means of attaining erection for most men, it does not work for everyone.

Reducing Stress

The most important aspect in combating impotence is to ensure that the man is comfortable. The pressure to perform can be the cause of impotence. If the man feels that he is under a lot of stress, he may have difficulty achieving an erection. If the man feels relaxed then he will become erect more easily.

The language used to talk about sex has become more open , but this may still be a source of discomfort to the older person. Even the terms used in common speech can date rapidly. To overcome this, the use of medical terminology may be easier to use.

Such terms – both common and medical- can be found throughout this site and you might want to become familiar with them.  Alternatively, most libraries now contain books on health which have specific chapters on sexual health. The proper terms can be learned from these. Remember  that your doctor’s main interest is in finding out what is wrong with you and what help can be provided rather than the language you use to describe it.

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