There’s no doubt that maintaining friendships and other relationships is important while you age. And plenty of research shows that the closer the relationship, the better.
Keeping up an active sex life may help ease aging more than you think. Aside from the exercise component, the pleasure from intimacy and sexuality may help ease everyday aches and pains, lead to a better mood and an improved overall outlook that can last for days. A new study is even showing that regular sex can have big benefits for heart health.
A study published in the American Journal of Cardiology found that when men aged 50+ had sex at least twice per week, they had a 45-percent lower risk for heart disease than men who had it less frequently. Although the result was merely an association, the number is nothing to scoff at! That said, there is other work saying frequent sex for older men—more than once per week—may put an added strain in the heart and influence heart health. But overall, the benefits seem to outweigh drawbacks.
Research has also shown sex can benefit heart health in women, albeit slightly differently. Whereas the above study showed sex quantity was beneficial for men, it seems to be the quality and intimacy of sex, not how much, that protects women’s heart health in later age.
And the benefits don’t stop there! Research even exists to show that sex may boost immune function and lead to better sleep.
Of course, sex isn’t always on top of the mind after a certain age. You may have been with your partner for a really long time, experienced a loss, don’t feel as confident with your body, or have noticed your bits and pieces don’t respond the way they used to.
But many if not all of those factors are within your control. Talking to your partner about your needs or ideas to spruce up your sex life—and potentially meeting with a doctor or sex therapist—can be very helpful. If you’ve lost a partner, there are a number of other people out there, too, in the same predicament that is likely looking for intimacy. Sometimes coping can take some time, but when you’re ready, there are a number of avenues to meet people ranging from community meetups to online tools.
Biological changes can also be overcome. Women experiencing pain during sex from post-menopausal vaginal dryness have a variety of options to help lubricate and restore enjoyment. Men with erectile dysfunction can make lifestyle changes, like improving diet and losing weight, to restore function. If that doesn’t work, there are also medications that can help.
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