The Joy of Aging Sex
The Ins and Outs of Desire
Have I mentioned lately that I absolutely love Boomer’s new editor? Not only is she a wonderful human being and gifted editor, she also sends me emails asking me if I want to investigate sex! As the younger people would say: Seriously. Best. Editor. Ever!
DOES AGE HAMPER INTEREST?
If we were to judge the desirability of sex in the aging population, we would need only to watch an hour of TV (which equals roughly eight Viagra or Cialis commercials) to see that older people are getting their freak on (yeah, I also investigated ways to say sex) at very satisfying rates. With the likelihood that there are no rugrats in the house to disturb the moment, that careers are likely less stressful and that we have a lifetime of experiences that have made us grow into the amazing people that we are today, there has never been a better time in our lives to enjoy the finer things of life has to offer. And sex is definitely one of the finer things!
Let’s face it, though, our bodies are not quite what they used to be. We’ve put a lot of miles on these old bones and have scars, wrinkles and a little baggy skin to attest to the adventures. Yet if we look at each of these external imperfections as a badge of honor – stretch marks as testaments to 36 hours of labor, a scar from a winning fight against cancer – then we are more devastatingly beautiful than we ever were in our youth.
DASTARDLY DAMPERS ON DESIRE
Sadly, adulthood also brings chronic diseases, arthritis and menopause. All of which, either by themselves or through their treatments, can cause coitus (shout out to Sheldon Cooper and “The Big Bang Theory”) to be less than pleasant. If treatments are causing your fires to fizzle, there are solutions!
Many chronic diseases are treated with fabulous pharmaceuticals that control the disease but can cause side effects in your nether regions. Blood pressure meds, for instance, are notorious for shooting down libidos and causing erectile dysfunction. Talk to your doctor about alternatives that may not be so “side-effecty” or about treatments for ED and low testosterone.
Mobility issues (arthritis, hip replacements, etc.) can make previously enjoyable positions not enjoyable or not doable. Changing your position portfolio will create a whole new world to frolic in.
Jessie Robertson, LPTA, CDP, regional clinical manager for Rehab Management, has worked with older adults. She said one of the more arduous hurdles is hip replacement recovery. “When recovering from a hip replacement and rekindling your sex life, you just need to remain mindful of a few limitations,” Robertson explained. “Don’t bend your hip more than 90 degrees, don’t cross your legs, don’t turn your leg inward or across your midline until you have regained the strength and built back up to withstand those motions.”
Exploring alternative positions will keep your fires burning, and working with your physical and occupational therapists will help you regain strength and flexibility faster so you can get jiggy without popping out your new hip.
Menopause can create all kinds of yucky side effects, including dryness, lack of sex drive and weird hormonal changes that make you feel super sexy one minute and something akin to the Loch Ness Monster the next.
Ingrid Prosser, MD, FACOG, with Virginia Physicians for Women, explained that the constellation of symptoms referred to as genitourinary syndrome need not knock you out of the bedroom. “There are treatment options available to improve the quality of (women’s) lives and sexual relationships,” she said. With the plethora of options available, the doctor can help make the horizontal mamba fun again.
“Prescription remedies that are available primarily involve estrogen delivered topically to the vagina via tablet, cream or ring form,” Prosser said. “There is also an oral medication, called Osphena, that selectively stimulates estrogen receptors in the vagina. Not all women are candidates for these medications due to their personal medical history or concern about exposure to hormonal medications.”
On the leading edge of therapy options are two vaginal rejuvenation procedures, the Mona Lisa Touch and Thermiva. As Prosser explained, “These are office-based procedures that have shown very good results and have been especially well received by our patients who cannot take estrogen-based treatments.”
As we age, there may be a time when we need to redefine our sex life to focus less on the act and more on the enriching enjoyment of intimacy. Maintaining loving and caring communication, cuddling and touching are excellent ways to remain connected with your partner and nurture your romantic lives.
Whether we are 20-year-old sorority sisters, 40-year-old soccer dads or 60-year-old grandparents, we all crave intimacy and relationships. An active sex life improves cardiovascular fitness, increases strength and flexibility, produces oxytocin, which increases endorphins, and is just plain fun. Viva la Vida!
*Please note: Age is NOT a protection against sexually transmitted diseases, so always practice safe sex!