There is such a thing as love and intimacy later in life, so don’t lose the passion. People over the age of 70 are more sexually active than you may realize – a little food for thought that I wanted to bring to your attention with Valentine’s Day right around the corner.
It’s because seniors continue to enjoy active sex lives well into their 70s and 80s, according to new research from the University of Manchester and NatCen Social Research.
Age doesn’t put out the flame
Amongst the participants for the study, more than half – nearly 55 percent – of male participants and almost a third – or 30 percent – of female participants over the age of 70 reported being sexually active, with a third of these same men and women having what can be considered frequent sex. It was the first study on sexual health of its kind, aiming to improve public health while countering stereotypes and misconceptions about late-life sexuality.
The research revealed that many septuagenarians and octogenarians were still affectionate toward their partners, with more than 30 percent of men and 20 percent of women reporting frequent kissing or petting. And among those who reported any sexual activity in the past three months, only one percent of men and 10 percent of women reported that they had sex out of feelings of obligation.
So what does all of this mean? Well, contrary to popular belief, poor health and incompatibility were more closely linked to decreased sexual activity as opposed to old age. Chronic health conditions, especially, seemed to have more negative impacts on the sexual health of men compared to women.
How to stoke the passion
Now that we know that sexual health is pretty much timeless, here’s how to keep the flame burning during your golden years, according to the Mayo Clinic. These are tips I like to pass along to my patients, too.
First of all, in order to maintain a satisfying sex life, talk to your partner. Set aside time to be sexual with one another. Even better, while you’re spending time with your partner, share your thoughts about lovemaking. Help your partner understand what you want from him or her. Just be honest about what you’re experiencing physically and emotionally.
2. Practice safe sex
If you’re having sex with a new or different partner, always remember to use a condom. Also consult with your family doctor about other methods you can use to protect yourself from sexually transmitted infections.
3. Men, be mindful of your testosterone levels
Playing a critical role in a man’s sexual experience, testosterone levels go up and down depending on the man. In general, however, older men tend to have lower testosterone levels than younger ones. That’s because testosterone levels gradually decline throughout adulthood –roughly one percent each year after the age of 30 on average. Erectile dysfunction is common as a result. Nevertheless, several treatments are available to help men achieve or sustain an adequate erection for sexual activity.
4. Women, be mindful of your estrogen levels
A decrease in estrogen levels may lead to vaginal dryness and slower sexual arousal. Emotional changes, too. While some women may enjoy having sex more without ever worrying about getting pregnant, other women may feel far less sexually attractive as their estrogen levels fall.
5. Don’t allow illness to affect your sexual health
Conditions having to do with the cardiovascular system – things like diabetes, high blood pressure, hormonal problems, depression or anxiety, as well as the medications used to treat these – can put a damper on your sexual health. Still, the human body is hard-wearing. It just needs a little bit of time and some sexual healing. Then people can become active again.
Given society’s aging population, it’s important that seniors, along with their health-care providers, better understand their own sexual health. Love and intimacy do work together for a strong and healthy relationship.
Related Reading: Seniors: How you can experience more intimacy as you age