All You Need is Hot, Steamy Lovin’ ….even if you’re 85!!
It’s only appropriate to discuss the issues that may arise (errr, or not rise?) for the elderly during sexual intimacy and intercourse on Valentine’s Day! As this is a day, that for millions, will end up in the bedroom at some point during the day. (Or, many points during the day, if you’re lucky.)
Physical intimacy is very important to any human beings life, and sexual intimacy is even better. Although, as one ages, certain aspects may come that make sex and orgasm harder to achieve for those over 60.
There are many normal changes that occur in the human body for both men and women as we age. For women, vaginal dryness will occur. The vagina will also shorten, and the walls will stiffen; which will make sexual satisfaction possibly more difficult to achieve. As men get older, some will experience erectile dysfunction (ED), or become impotent. ED is the loss of ability to maintain or get an erection, and it is a very, very common problem. Once an erection is achieved, it may not be as hard, or as large as it once was. Every now and then a “flare up” of ED may occur, but if it is happening regularly, go talk with your doctor.
-Common Causes of Other Sexual Problems
Some illnesses, diseases, medicines and other things can cause issues, too. Here’s a small list of common health issues interfering with intimacy.
Heart disease. Narrowing and hardening of the arteries can change blood vessels so that blood does not flow freely. As a result, men and women may have problems with orgasms, and men may have trouble with erections. People who have had a heart attack, or their partners, may be afraid that having sex will cause another attack. Sexual activity is often safe. Always follow your doctor’s advice.
Incontinence. Loss of bladder control or leaking of urine is more common as we grow older, especially in women. Extra pressure on the belly during sex can cause loss of urine, which may result in some people avoiding sex. This can be helped by a change in positions. The good news is that incontinence can usually be treated.
Stroke. The ability to have sex is sometimes affected by a stroke. A change in positions or medical devices may help people with ongoing weakness or paralysis to have sex. Some people with paralysis from the waist down are still able to experience orgasm and pleasure.
Arthritis. Joint pain due to arthritis can make sexual contact uncomfortable. Joint replacement surgery and drugs may relieve this pain. Exercise, rest, warm baths, and changing the position or timing of sexual activity can be helpful.
Chronic pain. Any constant pain can interfere with intimacy between older people. Chronic pain does not have to be part of growing older and can often be treated. But, some pain medicines can interfere with sexual function. You should always talk with your doctor if you have unwanted side effects from any medication.
Dementia. Some people with dementia show increased interest in sex and physical closeness, but they may not be able to judge what is appropriate sexual behavior. Those with severe dementia may not recognize their spouse, but still seek sexual contact. This can be a confusing problem for the spouse. A doctor, nurse, or social worker with training in dementia care may be helpful.
Diabetes. This is one of the illnesses that can cause ED in some men. In most cases, medical treatment can help. Less is known about how diabetes affects sexuality in older women. Women with diabetes are more likely to have vaginal yeast infections, which can cause itching and irritation and make sex uncomfortable or undesirable.
-Other major contributing factors with Sexual Issues
Medications. Some drugs can cause sexual problems. These include some blood pressure medicines, antihistamines, antidepressants, tranquilizers, appetite suppressants, drugs for mental problems, and ulcer drugs. Some can lead to ED or make it hard for men to ejaculate. Some drugs can reduce a woman’s sexual desire or cause vaginal dryness or difficulty with arousal and orgasm. Check with your doctor. She or he may prescribe a different drug without this side effect.
Alcohol & Street Drug Use. Too much alcohol can cause erection problems in men and delay orgasm in women. The same can be said for street drugs, as they also alter your ability to focus and think straight.
Surgery. Many of us worry about having any kind of surgery—it may be even more troubling when the breasts or genital area are involved. Most people do return to the kind of sex life they enjoyed before surgery.
Hysterectomy is surgery to remove a woman’s uterus. Often, when an older woman has a hysterectomy, the ovaries are also removed. The surgery can leave both men and women worried about their sex lives. If you’re afraid that a hysterectomy will change your sex life, talk with your gynecologist or surgeon.
Mastectomy is surgery to remove all or part of a woman’s breast. This surgery may cause some women to lose their sexual desire or their sense of being desired or feeling feminine. In addition to talking with your doctor, sometimes it is useful to talk with other women who have had this surgery. Programs like the American Cancer Society’s (ACS) “Reach to Recovery” can be helpful for both women and men. If you want your breast rebuilt (reconstruction), talk to your cancer doctor or surgeon.
Prostatectomy is surgery that removes all or part of a man’s prostate because of cancer or an enlarged prostate. It may cause urinary incontinence or ED. If removal of the prostate gland (radical prostatectomy) is needed, talk to your doctor before surgery about your concerns.
-The Emotional Factor
Many ask if emotions play any part of sexual intimacy, and they absolutely do! Sexuality is often a delicate balance of emotional and physical issues. How you feel may affect what you are able to do. Many older couples find greater satisfaction in their sex life than they did when they were younger. They have fewer distractions, more time and privacy, no worries about getting pregnant, and intimacy with a lifelong partner.
Some older people are concerned about sex as they age. A woman who is unhappy about how her looks are changing as she ages may think her partner will no longer find her attractive. This focus on youthful physical beauty may get in the way of her enjoyment of sex. Men may fear that ED will become a more common problem as they age. Most men have a problem with ED once in awhile. But, if you worry too much about that happening, you can cause enough stress to trigger ED.
Older couples face the same daily stresses that affect people of any age. They may also have the added concerns of age, illness, retirement, and other lifestyle changes, all of which may lead to sexual difficulties. Try not to blame yourself or your partner. You may find it helpful to talk to a therapist. Some therapists have special training in helping with sexual problems. If your male partner is troubled by ED or your female partner seems less interested in sex, don’t assume he or she is no longer interested in you or in sex. Many of the things that cause these problems can be helped.
-What can you do?
There are things you can do on your own for an active sexual life. Make your partner a high priority. Take time to enjoy each other and to understand the changes you both are facing. Try different positions and new times, like having sex in the morning when you both may be well rested. Don’t hurry—you or your partner may need to spend more time touching to become fully aroused. Masturbation is a sexual activity that many older people, with and without a partner, find satisfying.
Some older people, especially women, may have trouble finding a romantic or sexual partner. That’s because women tend to live longer than men. To meet new people, try activities that other seniors enjoy. Some ideas include mall walking, volunteer jobs, adult education classes at a community college, or day trips sponsored by your city or county recreation department.
Don’t be afraid to talk with your doctor if you have a problem that affects your sex life. He or she may be able to suggest a treatment. For example, the most common sexual difficulty of older women is painful intercourse caused by vaginal dryness. Your doctor or a pharmacist can suggest over-the-counter vaginal lubricants or moisturizers to use. Water-based lubricants are helpful when needed to make sex more comfortable. Moisturizers are used on a regular basis, every 2 or 3 days. Or, your doctor might suggest a form of vaginal estrogen.
If ED is the problem, it can often be managed and perhaps even reversed. There are pills that can help. They should not be used by men taking medicines containing nitrates, such as nitroglycerin. The pills do have possible side effects. Other available treatments include vacuum devices, self-injection of a drug, or penile implants.
Physical problems can change your sex life as you get older. But, you and your partner may discover you have a new closeness. Talk to your partner about your needs. You may find that affection—hugging, kissing, touching, and spending time together—can make a good beginning.
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