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The topic of sex and aging is not spoken about much as it seems to be a taboo subject especially with the younger people that think once you get past a certain age your sex life has to end. This couldn’t be farther from the truth. Sexual health is important at any age and people still have a desire for intimacy, companionship, and affection as they age. Even though sex changes as you age, your sexual feelings don’t disappear and sex can still be very fulfilling. Here I will point out eight myths on sex and aging as well as some facts for each misconception.
Myth #1 – When You Get Old, You Stop Having Sex
People seem to think that as you get older, you stop having sex and that sex belongs to the young. It is assumed that as you age, you stop having the desire for sex and lose any sexual feelings. As humans, we are made to live better and longer if we continue to have some form of a sex life as we age. Among 45-to 59-year-olds with sexual partners, some 56 percent said they had sexual intercourse once a week or more and AARP reports that 85 percent of men and women age 60+ report having at least one sexual experience (with another person) per week.
Another study was done of men and women in the United States and it was found that 40 percent of men between 75 and 85 are sexually active but because the women seem to have more health issues and not as many partners as they age, they are not having sex as frequently as the men within this time frame. Many men and women find their sex lives more satisfying than when they were in their forties. At times it may take more creativity, more foreplay and a bit more lube to get things going but that just goes to show that people are still getting action as they are aging. The action may decrease some but sexuality and the sexual desire can still be there.
Myth #2 – His Equipment Does Not Work
Erectile dysfunction is the inability to sustain an erection to be able to enjoy sexual pleasure. It can involve not being able to ejaculate, not being able to keep an erection long enough for intercourse or both. In an AARP survey of men over the age of 70, almost 75 percent said that they had few, if any, erectile problems. Even though this is the statistic, the erections may not be as firm and some extra foreplay may be required to be able to keep the erection extended for a longer amount of time. A lot of erectile dysfunction stems from a psychological cause, which is something that can be worked on. As men get older, they can usually benefit by a more “hands on” approach from their partner as well as other options like implants, pumps, and even shots that can also do the job.
Myth #3 – You Don’t Have To Worry About STI’s In Older Adults
A sexually transmitted infection (STI) is a disease that is passed from human contact through oral sex, intercourse, and anal sex. With the threat of pregnancy gone as men and women age, the older adults do not feel that there is the need to use protection when having sexual relations. Aging adults grew up in a time where safe sex was not taught and either was the importance of using condoms to protect themselves from STI’s. Because of the rising number of mid-life divorces, there are more people out there that are older and single out in the dating scene. Many of them are using online dating and because of this quick method of connecting, there are more people dating, more access to different partners and more opportunities for potential unsafe sex.
In addition to this cultural explanation of why there may be more STI’s in this age group, women have more risk due to the physical process of aging. Their vaginal tissue decreases as they age which causes women to be more vulnerable to the possibility of infection. Rates are doubling for STI’s in people who are in their 50’s, 60’s, and 70’s over the last decade for infections such as chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis. The problem is that the education for older adults and promotion by doctors on disease and safe sex is definitely lagging.
Myth #4 – Older Women Do Not Desire Sex
When women, as well as men, get closer to the 50’s, they may have a slight decrease in their sexual appetite but they still have the ability to feel sexy and feel desire through their entire life. Many women say after 50, they know what they want. Therefore, sex can be better than ever. Women appreciate more talk and foreplay to be a part of sex as they get older because it helps them to feel more desired. Libido changes over the years due to a number of factors and there are many reasons that women may feel less sexual with age that does not have anything to do with their actual ability to feel desire.
There are self-esteem issues, problems with health and even cultural concerns that can affect how a woman responds sexually.
One of the reasons it is mentioned that it may seem that women don’t desire sex is because it is assumed once menopause begins, the hormones change and women don’t have the desire anymore or they have too much pain to have sex. There are ways to combat these changes through medication or other available products on the market. Many will suffer vaginal dryness but women can make things more comfortable by using different lubricants. A little more foreplay may be necessary because blood moves around a bit slower to the genitals as we get older.
Myth #5- An Aging Body Is Not Sexy or Attractive
Sex should not be all about how we look. It should be about how sexy we are to the person who is attracted to us. You don’t need a perfect body to be sexy but the more that you have low self-esteem about how you look; the more it can affect your sexual relationship. How attractive someone is depending on whom you ask and our society can have unrealistic expectations of what is sexy. As people age they realize that individual characteristics are what makes a person attractive. By keeping fit and active, you will stay healthier and be more attractive to others but also be able to have the confidence to feel more secure in how you look.
It is very important to have a sense of humor and develop good communication skills to keep yourself from feeling insecure and keep a positive self-esteem. Love and emotional attraction can contribute to sexual attraction and arousal. What is considered sexy as we age is to be able to find things to do with your partner that sparks the inner attractiveness such as being romantic, kissing passionately, and in addition, having a sense of humor. If you go to bed with confidence and feel good about whom you are, that in itself will exude sexiness.
Myth #6 – Sex Can Be Dangerous For an Older Adult
It isn’t the aging that can be dangerous for an adult but the possibility of hurting themselves as they fall out of shape as they age. Sometimes being out of shape, having a health issue or adults with a disability can make sex difficult but definitely not impossible. If the older adult is too weak or fragile but still want to be sexual, they may just need to find different positions that can be easier on the body. There are a lot of options and positions that can be experimented with depending on their health that can still allow them to enjoy sex together while at the same time, not compromise their health. One option could be to have bed modifications or use sex aides and toys. Other than aches and pains from aging and using muscles that have stiffened, being sexually active can improve your mental, emotional, and physical health.
Myth #7 – Aging Adults Over 50 Do Not Have Casual Sex
A number of adults are getting divorced over 50 and many enjoy having more of a “friends with benefits” type of relationship that can be more casual. This mindset of having friends with benefits can be common during this stage of life because aging adults have decided they just want to have fun even if it is just a casual thing. If many of the adults after the age of 50 are divorced, lost their spouse and have already had their families, their goals may not be the same as the younger adults so they are more often than not, wanting to share more intimacy and companionship as they age and many not need to be married or be in a serious committed relationship.
Myth #8 – You Are Responsible For Your Partners Orgasm
As we age, especially if we are in a long-term relationship, it can get more difficult to achieve an orgasm so in order to have a positive sexual experience with your partner, you need to understand your body. We live in our bodies every day and most people don’t really understand how they even work. Each person is responsible for his or her own pleasure and orgasm (if orgasm is what they are after). It is definitely helpful for the partner to learn what their partner likes by asking questions and listening to what their partner has to say but in the end, each person is responsible for their own sexual pleasure.
Because sex is between two people, it takes two to communicate their needs and desires because you can’t possibly know what will satisfy another person unless they share that information with their partner. Your partner needs to be cut some slack if they can’t bring you to orgasm if you have never shown them what you like. Orgasms start in the brain and you need to find out what makes yourself tick in order to be responsible for your own pleasure. When there is an obstacle preventing you from having sex, take it seriously, and then do something about it.
As you can see, there are a lot of misconceptions of what happens as we age and how it relates to sex and sexual behaviors. Luckily these myths are just myths and as we age, sex can be as amazing as ever!