Sexual intercourse can be a touchy subject for seniors. They may be uncomfortable discussing it with their physician or consider the subject taboo due to derogatory attitudes some younger people hold toward senior sexuality. Seniors may also find themselves less interested or capable of having sex as they get older.
However, many people remain sexually active well into their older years. This activity can be beneficial in a number of ways. Sexual intercourse can make you feel happier and closer to your partner. Studies have also shown that it lowers the incidence of migraine headaches, as well as the risk of genital dryness in women and prostate cancer in men.
While seniors may be interested in sexual intercourse, physical changes might make this activity more difficult. Testosterone levels decrease in men as they age, making it harder for them to achieve and maintain an erection. Women who have passed menopause will experience falling estrogen levels, which causes decreased vaginal lubrication and elasticity.
Certain health conditions that are more likely to affect seniors can also make sex more difficult. A person with cardiac health issues may worry that sexual activity will increase their risk of a heart attack, while arthritis can make sex more painful. Medications and surgeries can also impede sexual function.
In some cases, seniors can enjoy a rejuvenated sex life by simply boosting their hormone levels. Testosterone replacement and estrogen therapy can help improve sexual function. A lubricant will help counter vaginal dryness in women.
The Mayo Clinic recommends that seniors talk to their partner about sexual activity in order to enjoy the experience more. You should also have a frank discussion with your physician about any issues that may be negatively affecting your sex life and how to address these concerns.
A physician can also refer couples to a sex therapist to address specific concerns. This person may recommend ways that seniors can adapt their sexual routines to find a more fulfilling experience. Some couples may find a surprising amount of satisfaction in intimate behaviors outside of intercourse, such as kissing and cuddling.
Seniors who are sexually active should also be aware of the risk of sexually transmitted diseases, especially if they are starting sexual relationships with new partners. The rates of STDs such as gonorrhea and chlamydia among older adults have been rising in recent years, due in part to the increased availability of medications for erectile dysfunction.
Seniors should discuss STDs with their physician, and seek treatment immediately if they suspect they have been affected by one of these diseases. Condom use is a particularly effective way to avoid STDs.