Sex is a central part of emotional and physical health, especially in older adults. Regular sex with your partner helps increase intimacy and your ability to express your feelings for your partner. Physically it is also good for your health by reducing stress and making you feel good about yourself.
Growing older doesn’t need to mean the end of your sex life, and many studies have shown that with the exception of ill health, many older adults maintain an active, fulfilling sex life which can extend into their 80s.
Read: 9 facts on erectile dysfunction
How sex changes as you age
While an active sex life is something many strive for, the ageing process does take its toll and natural changes in sexual physiology will occur, in both men and women. In men testosterone levels will begin to decrease and this affects sexual arousal, erections and ejaculations.
This doesn’t mean sex is no longer an option however, it merely means you might need to adjust your usual strategies, such as:
• Needing more direct manual stimulation from your partner to become fully aroused and erect.
• Less warning time before ejaculation, and when you do ejaculate, you will probably release less sperm less forcefully.
• Faster loss of erection after orgasm or it may take longer before an erection is again possible.
In women, oestrogen levels begin to decrease as they enter menopause, which can affect vaginal dryness and thinning, sexually arousal and often self-esteem.
Other health concerns which may accompany old age include arthritis, heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, obesity, and depression. The medications used to treat some of these conditions can also make sex more difficult – but not impossible.
Read: How to function with erectile dysfunction
Why older people should be having sex
Sex is definitely not just for the young, and the benefits of sex may even increase as one gets older too.
• One major benefit to sex as you age is the protective and stimulating effect it may have on brain function.
• Having sex is also known to make people happy, and at a time in life when many older adults feel emotionally unsettled, regular sex with your partner can ease anxiety and even depression.
• Sexual activity can increase your levels of oxytocin, which has been shown to decrease anxiety and stress levels. This can also have an effect on how the blood vessels respond to stress, and decrease blood pressure and stroke risks caused by high blood pressure.
Read: Why erectile dysfunction should be treated?
• Sex has also been shown to release endorphins, which have been shown to act as natural painkillers. And since many older adults experience aches and pains physically as they age, this is a pleasurable way to ease those niggles.
• In men, regular ejaculation may lower risk of prostate cancer.
• Being sexually satisfied has also been linked to enjoying a better quality of life
• Sex with your partner can lead to better communication within the relationship, strengthening your bond and increasing overall intimacy.
Men likelier to enjoy sex in old age
Too old for sex? Don't let society dictate
Good health vital for good sex in old age
Image: older couple, Shutterstock