Senior Love and Sex
Senior Love and Sex

As aging severely affects your lifestyle, you may notice the change in the frequency of sex as you get older. But that doesn’t mean, older adults cannot enjoy sex. A 2017 survey estimates that about 40% of older men and women in their 60s or even 80s keep up with their sexual activities.

Aging brings many health issues, especially if you don’t pay attention to this golden time. Such health problems may influence your quality of life and sexual activity. While some problems, like erectile dysfunction in men, vaginal dryness, incontinence, and uterine prolapse in women, are treatable, there are some other factors too contributing to the age-related decline in sex.

Some people lose interest in sex when they age, and that’s absolutely normal. But one can still be able to lead a healthy and confident sexual life even beyond the 50s. Sex is not the same thing in older age as in the 20s or 30s, but it can get better if you want to get it managed.

Health Problems Interfering with Your Sex Life:

Some diseases, medications, and surgeries can affect your sex life. These are as follows:

1. Arthritis:
Arthritis makes your joint’s painful, and you fail to carry out your routine work. This equally makes the sexual contact uncomfortable for both the partners. A regular exercise, some drugs, and joint replacement surgery may prove to be helpful. You can rest or take warm baths at home. Change the position and timing of sex; it can bring relief.
2. Chronic Pain:
Chronic pain is a normal part of old age, making the intimacy between the partners complicated. It can easily get treated with medications, but you might experience some side effects in your sexual functions. So, it’s better to consult your doctor about them.
3. Dementia:
Dementia can increase the interest in sex but in a strange manner. Such persons may find it difficult to know their behavior and to correlate it with the appropriate sexual behavior. They fail to recognize their partner or spouse and try to ease their sexual thirst with someone else. In this difficult situation, contacting your doctor will be an aid.
4. Diabetes:
Diabetes causes sexual dysfunction in men and highly likely to cause vaginal yeast infection in women, accompanied by itching and irritation. Both conditions make sex undesirable and uncomfortable. However, there are medications available for these problems.
5. Heart Disease:
Heart issues make the arteries narrow and hard which leads to interrupted blood flow. Men and women with heart diseases don’t orgasm properly; they may take a long time to get aroused, especially men cannot maintain the erection. So, if your heart problems are getting worse day by day or if you have a history of heart attack, consult your physician.
6. Incontinence:
This problem is common among women. Incontinence is characterized by loss of bladder control or leaking of urine. During sex, you may lose some urine. So, it’s better to change the position or urinate before and after sex. Also, certain medications can be helpful.
7. Stroke:
Stroke brings extreme weakness and paralysis. This causes one to fail in carrying out the normal activity of sex. In such a case, changing positions and using a medical device can help you enjoy sex.
8. Depression:
People with depression cannot find interest in literally everything, and this includes pleasure and passion for seeking sex. They fail to enjoy sexual activity as before. Consult a psychiatrist before depression gets worse.
9. Surgery:
Surgeries involving genital areas can interfere with your sex life. Hysterectomy (removing a part of a woman’s uterus), Mastectomy (removing all or a part of a woman’s breast), and Prostatectomy (removing all or a part of a man’s prostate glands) are some examples. Ask your doctor about your concerns before the surgery.
10. Medications:
Blood pressure medicines, antihistamines, antidepressants, tranquilizers, Parkinson’s disease or cancer medications, appetite suppressants, drugs for mental problems and ulcer drugs can cause ED in men, and delayed orgasm and vaginal dryness in women.
11. Alcohol:
Excessive alcohol consumption causes ED in men and delayed orgasm in women.

Aging and Women’s Sex Life:

After the menopause, the ovaries stop producing estrogen that leads to thinning of the vaginal lining. The vagina loses its elasticity and muscle tone, causing a longer time to get aroused. This leads to vaginal dryness, decreased libido, and pain during penetration. Emotional changes also play an important role as stress makes a person uninterested in sex. Using commercially available vaginal lubricants will help in the longer run.

Aging and Men’s Sex Life:

Testosterone is the main hormone in men that has a role in sexual activity. Older men have low levels of testosterone than younger men, and this level keeps on declining by 1% every year after the age of 30.

Erectile Dysfunction:

Older men have erection problems; the penis may take a lot of time to become fully erected, so orgasm and ejaculation time also increases. The cause of ED is both physical and psychological. If it exceeds more than a few weeks, it is an alarming sign of more serious underlying health problems.

Erectile dysfunction can be overcome by making lifestyle modifications, including weight loss if obese and smoking and alcohol cessation. Your physician may start medication therapy with PDE-5 inhibitors that help you get over with erection problems. Other treatment includes:

• vacuum pumps
• penis injections
• counseling

Reduced Sensitivity:

Aged men have a lack of penile sensitivity that is correlated with erection difficulty and to reach an orgasm. Exercising your penis or trying to get a direct stimulation during sex may be helpful.
To improve blood flow to the penis, quit smoking, and get in a healthy lifestyle with maintained body weight and regular exercise. Consult your physician if it’s getting worse with every passing day as there is a chance of occurrence of underlying health issues mentioned above.

Enlarged Prostate:

Benign prostatic hyperplasia (BPH) is an enlargement of the prostate that is very common in men above 50. Although, BPH is non-cancerous but has an impact on sex life. This condition is accompanied by frequent and tough urination, called lower urinary tract symptoms (LUTS).

LUTS has a connection with maintaining an erection and causes premature ejaculation. These conditions can increase or decrease men’s interest in sex. As the symptoms keep on worsening, your sex life keeps on getting affected by it. So, before it gets out of your hands, talk to your doctor.

Everything that has discussed above connects on one single dot – a healthy and balanced lifestyle. When you become conscious of your health, you start building interest in more physical activities, and a healthy body and mind come as a by-product. Keeps your passion high!



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I am chief medical resident doctor in Internal Medicine at a tertiary care hospital. I am also an author and editor at StatPearls publishing, a medical website with thousands of PubMed indexed articles and MCQs.

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