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Natural Awakenings Washington DC Metro

Tips for Sexual Health and Function at 60 and Beyond

Sep 30, 2015 09:03PM
By Mary Kendell

Yes, contrary to popular beliefs, older folks do engage in sexual activity. In fact, a study in the Journal of Sexual Medicine found that 20 to 30 percent of men and women stay sexually active well into their 80s. Data from the University of Chicago’s National Social Life, Health and Aging project (NSHAP) found that men and women ages 57 to 85 consider their sexuality an important aspect of their lives.

While both sexes find sexual activity later in life more satisfying than they did in their 20s (according to AARP 2004), maintaining good sexual function at midlife and beyond can have its challenges. For women, the loss of hormones including estrogen and testosterone can result in a decrease in desire, arousal, lubrication and an associated increase in discomfort with sexual activity. For men, several different medical conditions can result in erectile dysfunction. Additionally, pain, illness and disability can affect the sexual functioning of both men and women.

Needless to say, a healthy lifestyle is essential to maintaining a healthy sex life. Strategies for maintaining a healthy sex life include:

  1. . Take care of your health. See your health care provider regularly to identify and manage health related issues. Talk to your health care provider if you have sexual concerns.
  2. Eat a healthy diet. A diet rich in unsaturated fats and low in saturated fats will help protect your heart and arteries including those small vessels necessary for arousal and pleasure. Nutrient dense foods such as almonds provide important trace minerals. Citrus fruits provide anti-oxidants that help fight disease. High fiber foods will fill you up not out. Avoid heavy meals and alcohol before sexual activity.
  3.  Maintain your weight or lose weight if necessary. This will improve your overall health as well as your body image and your self esteem. Feeling attractive enhances sexual desire.
  4.  Exercise regularly to improve circulation, flexibility, energy and stamina, all of which are necessary for good sexual function.
  5.  Redefine intimacy. Despite the healthiest of life styles, sexual intercourse is sometimes not possible. Place your emphasis on mutual pleasure rather than performance. Remember how much fun you had as a teenager before you had sex.
  6. Communicate your wants and needs to your partner and ask them what they like and need. Neither of you are mind readers. Good communication skills are the first step in a healthy sexual relationship.
  7. Plan your sexual activity to accommodate for your energy level and health issues such as pain. Preplanning for sex can also increase desire.
  8.  Try new things. Experiment with different positions to accommodate for pain from arthritis and other joint related problems. Incorporated the use of a vibrator to compensate for the decrease in the sense of touch that occurs with aging. Use lubricants to avoid discomfort with intercourse. Consider the use of a penis ring to help maintain an erection.
  9. Be present. It is hard to enjoy sexual activity if you are thinking about your grocery list. Having a regular meditation or mindfulness practice can help you stay focused in the moment.
  10. . Bring patience, understanding and a sense of humor to the bedroom. You may be older but with these ingredients, sex will definitely be a rich and satisfying experience.
Mary Kendell is a board-certified women’s health care nurse practitioner and ASSECT certified sexual health counselor. Specializing in sexual health concerns, Kendell uses an integrative approach to health and wellness. For more information, call 202-833-5055 or email [email protected]

 

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