Let’s face it, there are many age-related changes that can make “sexy aging” a challenge. In order to maintain a lasting, satisfying and fulfilling sex life as you age it is important to:
· Know the facts
· Work to maintain open and supportive communication with your sexual partner
· Seek expert advice
Communication with your sexual partner is critical to a satisfying sex life. Don’t wait for things to start going wrong before tackling difficult subjects. Check in frequently with your partner, asking them what feels good and what does not. Here are a couple of great one-liners that can help to start the conversation in a non-confrontational way:
· “I want to feel more connected and closer to you”
· “What do you like about having sex?”
· “What do you miss about not having sex?”
Try to be supportive and positive, emphasizing what they are doing right, rather than blaming or making your partner feel guilty or resentful. Your priority is to both feel good and to feel closer to one another. Good communication between partners often is more important than appearance, libido, or physical health when it comes maintaining intimate connections over time.
Focus of pleasure, not on performance.
Use communication, massage, and touch to find new ways to make each other feel good. There are many ways to be intimate with your partner that do not necessarily involve sexual intercourse in the traditional sense. You may have heard of outercourse instead of intercourse. Read books, watch movies, see a sex therapist, or talk with your partner to find inspiration to try new things. You can also check out some of the resources listed below. It is easy for us all to get stuck in a routine. The normal changes that happen as people age or chronic disease or illness may alter what works for each member of a couple.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help.
There are many different professionals who can help make sex pleasurable again.
· Don’t be afraid to let your healthcare provider know that your sex life is an important part of your health and well-being. Tell them that you want to know about how any health conditions, medications, or other changes could impact your sex life. Too many healthcare providers wait for their patients to ask about sex and are too embarrassed to bring it up themselves.
· Specialized physical therapists can work with both men and women struggling with painful intercourse, erectile dysfunction, urinary incontinence (leakage), arthritis or other conditions making sex difficult.
· Couple’s therapists, mental health professionals and sex therapists (licensed by the Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists ASECT) all are valuable resources who can help you and your partner build emotional intimacy.
· Sensuality boutiques or sex shops (you can shop either online or in person) sell a variety of props, toys, books, lubricants, movies, and other items which can help keep things new and exciting for couples.
And don’t forget you are never too old for safe sex.
Among Americans age 65 and older in the United States, Chlamydia infection rates increased by 31% and Syphilis infection rates increased by 52% in the four year period from 2007-2011. Even though you may no longer need to worry about pregnancy, you still need to use condoms, discuss your sexual history with new partners, and get tested for sexually-transmitted infections before being sexually active with a new partner.
A good sex life is your right!
The World Health Organization (WHO) considers the “pursuit of a satisfying, safe and pleasurable sexual life” to be a human right. Remember that your human right does not change as you get older.
Below are listed some general resources for more information about sexuality.
National Sexuality Resource Center. www.nsrc.sfsu.edu. Information for consumers and clinicians.http://SexualityResources.com: Website where you can email a sex therapist and a physician your sexuality-related questions.MiddlesexMD, www.middlesexMD, Women’s sexual health resource: information and products specifically for menopause.The American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists (www.aasect.org), includes search engine to locate AASECT-certified professionals in specific geographic areas.