More than half (54%) of men and almost a third (31%) of women over the age of 70 report they are still sexually active, with a third of these men and women having frequent sex – meaning at least twice a month – according to data from the latest wave of the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing (ELSA).
Research also reveals that the sexual activities of elder couples change over the years but the satisfaction with sexuality is generally not affected. The sexual activities shift from a focus on intercourse to a focus on cuddling, touching, stroking and kissing. These sexual acts are still considered as important to maintain a healthy and close emotional connection.
Well, age does come with some challenges as well. On a psychological level, there are several challenges: Some older people are confronted with the loss of their partner which obviously impacts on the ability to enjoy sex. Other factors causing psychological stress are the psychological impact of coping with diseases, the ageing body, the possible loss of friends or family, or worries about the sexual performance.
On a physical level, challenges could involve effects of diseases and medications, such as blood pressure tablets, which can have a direct or indirect effect on sexuality. Physical discomforts can interfere with your ability to enjoy intimacy. Normal physiological changes can impact on the levels of pleasure derived from sex: Due to hormonal changes the interior of the vagina can become thinner and drier; the penis can lose its strength or requires more time to become fully erect. Stiffness of the muscles can limit the possible positions of the body. But the good news is that there are various kinds of aids available to tackle these discomforts, such as crèmes, vaginal lubricants, or medications to improve sexual performance.
To prevent sexual difficulties at an older age there are quite a few things you could do (and might already be doing!): these general advices won’t only support a healthy and long life as well as a healthy and active sex life. Exercise regularly, eat healthy, drink enough water, avoid smoking or overconsumption of alcohol, reduce stress as much as possible, live life with a positive outlook and visit your doctor in time when you are experiencing physical discomfort.
Some specific tips on how to improve your sexual pleasure? A positive and open attitude will be very helpful to maintain a healthy sexual connection with your body and your partner. So just as you might allow your walks to have a slower pace, allow the same amendments to your sexual activity. With the right stimulation of preferred sexual areas your body can still show the same arousal response albeit not as quickly. Enjoy the time to warm up, to play. Experiment with different types of touch in different areas, fine-tune your experience till you are completely satisfied. If one particular activity or position is causing challenges or pain, try a different one or focus on other more pleasure enhancing activities. Take your time, explore and relax.
It seems sex and age do go hand in hand, in fact sex should be encouraged as part of maintaining a fit and healthy lifestyle. So senior citizens go ahead: walk, laugh and be intimate!
If you are experiencing difficulties with the adjustments of the ageing process or the psychological stress is too challenging, please contact us to support you through this process.