Originally published in PRIME Magazine (April 2016).
Many people have a negative reaction to the thought of their parents having sex; usually it is a repugnant thought, maybe accompanied by disbelief. This may be obvious, but the reason you are reading this article is because your parents had sex. All being well, they are still having sex.
A widespread misconception suggests that people in later life are not sexually active. Think again. And a study from 2010 found that 20-30% of participants were sexually active well into their 80’s.
Be comfortable in the knowledge that we can feel sexual at most stages of life. Although there is no denying that ageing causes changes that can make it difficult to enjoy romantic or sexual relationships, it should not stop you. Here, I want to list a few of the common conditions that you may be facing, as well as some recommendations that can help you maintain a healthy balance:
Physical ailments caused by arthritis, osteoporosis or chronic pain all contribute to impaired mobility, which in turn can make partner-sex difficult.
Cardiovascular conditions can impact the blood flow to your genitalia and limit functionality.
Medications (i.e. antidepressants, diabetes) can sometimes impact sexual desire and functionality.
Hormonal changes (i.e. menopause) in women can cause vaginal dryness and tightness. In men, (i.e. andropause) they can impact the ability to have or maintain an erection. In both genders they can impact desire and arousal.
Mental illness can impact the ability to have fulfilling intimate relationships and limit opportunities to be sexual.
This is only a short list, but it is important to realise that many of these conditions can be eliminated or alleviated. Unfortunately because of the taboos revolving around sex, there is little debate, knowledge or awareness about this possibility. Even in medical settings, doctors often avoid addressing sexual issues, and patients seldom ask.
Each condition is unique, and as such, it requires a unique approach. There are, however, a few suggestions that can be easily adopted and have a marked positive impact. Chief among them is my recommendation to openly speak about your concerns - a doctor, a friend, your partner or a specialist.
Your exercise routine (get one if you don’t have it) could include pelvic floor exercises. We seldom use these muscles and exercising them is known to be beneficial at many levels; it can make your pelvic area stronger and more sensitive.
Research suggests that a strong motivator for people looking for sexual gratification is to experience closeness and connectedness. Sexual connectedness is so much more than just penetrative sex and everything it implies. Explore and experiment with alternative ways to intimately connect with your partner.
Regular medical check ups are a way of loving and looking after yourself. Mens sana in corpore sano, said my fellow Latin people. Look after your mind and your body and you will hopefully be rewarded with years of fulfilling life experiences, including the sexual kinds.
I offer consultations to adults of all ages. If anything in this article resonates with you and you want to discover more, feel free to contact me.
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