A healthy sex life after middle age?

As we get older, many of us tend to concentrate on what will keep us healthy and vibrant for years to come. One contributing factor to good health is continuing to be sexually active as you get older. There are many health benefits of having regular sex especially after you hit the big 5-0.

Sex helps to boost your immune system and burns fat. It also relieves stress and makes you feel good both for your physical and emotional health. Sex causes the brain to release endorphins which is the body’s natural pain reliever. And, if you keep sexually active throughout your life, the physical changes that come with aging may be less visible. Overall, the naturally produced sex hormones are at higher levels in people that have sex more often and which makes them want to continue being intimate.

Although there are many benefits for maintaining a healthy sex life, it sometimes becomes more difficult as we age. Though the intimacy and sexual experience remains important, there are certain challenges that start in midlife. While each person is different, there are a few physical changes that are common for both men and women as they become older. It is imperative to understand these changes so you can talk to your partner, make decisions to keep sexually active or to consult a health-care professional if you are unsure of the cause. Some of the common changes to look out for are decreased desire, less lubrication and slower, softer erections.

These physical challenges are often the most common sexual problems; however, if they are not talked about or dealt with, they will affect how you feel about sex and ultimately what you do about it. These psychological causes - such as stress, fear and anxiety, loss in confidence and relationship problems - can take a toll on your sex life. However, if you keep an open mind and do your research, the information can get your sex life on track and keep it there, as you grow older and wiser.

There is also your doctor or health-care practitioner who can help you navigate through these confusing times. There may be a medical reason why you are having issues with your sex life; therefore, it is important to utilize your doctor as a resource to help you to sift through your situation to find solutions. Often times, it may be that you encounter sexual challenges because of illness or chronic disease. These professionals are familiar with the ramifications of certain medications and diseases on sexual interest and function making them able to suggest solutions.  Some common health challenges that may be having a negative affect on your sex life are depression, arthritis and osteoporosis, heart and circulatory conditions, cancer, dementia or medication, just to name a few.

Sex is about both the body and mind. As we age maintaining our sexual health involves adapting our expectations. We can’t expect the same sexual performance and responses that we had when we were younger. It is important to understand that our bodies and lives are changing as we age.  Just because things change, that doesn’t mean that you have to forget about what has been a source of pleasure and an important part of your life and relationship. As you age you may have to try a few new things or get a little bit more creative. It may take longer or not happen as often, but it doesn’t have to be any less fun.

Physical intimacy can take many forms besides penetration, there is kissing, cuddling, masturbation, massage, oral and manual stimulation, long walks and talks. No matter what the age, people need and want to express their sexuality. It is a vital part of life and ignoring the importance of sexual expression denies a basic human need. There is something to be said about open communication, acceptance, creativity and knowledge that goes a long way to maintaining sexual health.

There are many ways to spice up your love life from: thinking about sex differently (all kinds of touch can be stimulating and pleasurable - it’s not all about penetration) to changing your routine (make sure that it is during the time of day when you have the most energy) to creating a mood (enjoy the extra time it takes to get aroused by putting a little romance back into your lives).  Communication can also enhance the experience by talking and touching which brings you and your partner closer together. It is imperative to have reasonable expectations. If you didn’t have lots of sex early in your relationship or through your middle years chances are that you won’t be doing it more when you’re older. Above all, take care of yourself through a healthy diet, regular exercise and relaxing activities. It keeps your mind and body in great shape to spark your appetite for sex at any age!

Source: "Sex over 50 ." Sexualityandu.ca.