What can we expect from our sex life later in life? Does it just get better the more sexually and physically mature we become? Or do we have to rethink our sex life and work to maintain our health to make sure we have a fulfilling sex life as we age?
What can women expect in the bedroom post-menopause and how can we take care of ourselves to keep enjoying sex and sexuality throughout our lives?
As we age, there are a variety of less-than-flattering body changes we have to go through and take into account when it comes to our health. There’s arthritis, diabetes and heart disease — all things that can ultimately affect our quality of life, including our sex lives. Take care of your overall health and you’ll have an optimum sex life too.
According to a study done by associate professor Stacy Tessler Lindau about sexual activity and good health, it was found that, “people in very good or excellent health were 1.5 to 1.8 times more likely to report an interest in sex than those in poorer health.” Professor Tessler Lindau also found that while men have a high expectancy of an active sex life, most men lost their years of sexual activity due to poor health compared to women.
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There are many reasons why the libido wanes as we age. As well as health and fitness, it also comes down to hormonal and physical changes that our bodies go through. According to the Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol affect the cardiovascular system. This means inadequate blood circulation which is a key element of experiencing strong arousal sensations.
“Decreased estrogen levels result in thinning of vaginal tissues and less natural vaginal lubrication,” are further causes of low libido and low sexual interest, reports the Mayo Foundation. These changes may reduce sexual desire because of pain or discomfort during sexual stimulation, the foundation reports. “For women, changes in body shape that occur naturally can affect feelings of desirability,” reports the Mayo Foundation.
But despite all the changes our bodies go through, there’s no reason to think that we can’t enjoy a healthy sex life as we age. According to Dr Alison Huang’s study of sexuality in older women, more than a third of women over 65 are still enjoying a frequent sex life.
“Overall 37 percent of the women who were sixty-five and older were sexually active in the past three months and about that percentage were moderately or highly interested in sex,” Dr Alison’s study found. “A very significant proportion of older women are recently sexually active.”
Another study, published in the Journal of the American Geriatric Society, also found that women embrace the ageing process more if they have an active sex life. The study looked at 1,235 women between the ages of 60 and 89 and found that while sexuality decreased later in life, they were still satisfied with their sex lives and this had an impact on their quality of life.
“Feeling satisfied with your sex life – whatever your levels of sexual activity – is closely related to your perceived quality of life,” said Professor Wesley Thompson, one of the researchers.
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Tips and ideas on how to maintain your sex life later in life:
- Communication. Don’t be afraid to talk about sex with your partner. If there is something you are concerned about, want to address, or if there is something new you want to introduce to your love-making, bring it up with your partner.
- Lubrication. For women especially, as the vagina walls become dryer and thinner, make sure you and your partner are using lubrication. This will ensure you avoid any pain and discomfort which will take away from the experience and will diminish any feelings of arousal.
- Keep in shape. As we age, it is as important as ever to keep moving. Do yoga, walk frequently and keep active to avoid joint paint, arthritis and other ailments which no doubt get in the way of intimacy.
- Be creative. After being in a relationship for many years, it is normal that our love lives may become monotonous. Shake things up in the bedroom, it is never too late to act out your fantasies or try something new — no matter what age you are.
- Have fun. Of course, have fun, enjoy yourself, laugh and make intimacy an enjoyable part of your life. If you don’t enjoy it, there’s no reason for you to make time for it in your life.
More on maintaining a healthy sex life
10 Tips for a better sex life
Sex lives revealed: What’s normal?
Health benefits of sex