A healthy sex life slows the aging process
For many of us, youthfulness is synonymous with our ability to express our sexual desires, while aging is the process through which these capacities decline.
As we move through menopause it feels like we’ll never want to have sex again. Don’t despair though, help is at hand.
Discussing sex is taboo for many, but the reality is that humans are sexual beings until the day they die.
While age is no obstacle to a healthy sex life, it can, and does, significantly affect sexual functions, particularly in those who are unfit or have health issues.
As women age, for example, they may take longer to produce the vaginal lubrication required to make sexual intercourse comfortable. Orgasms can also decrease in number and intensity.
In aging men, it can take longer to obtain and maintain erections needed for satisfactory sexual intercourse.
But decline in sexual function need not be a barrier to sexual enjoyment, provided specific needs are recognized and met (with lubricants, topical creams and sufficient stimulation or foreplay, for example).
A number of reasons exist for our so-called ‘age-related’ changes.
Declining levels of sex hormones, especially testosterone, can impact our desire and interest in sex, as well as how sex organs function.
Physical and mental disorders can also contribute to sexual disinterest, while relationship issues and stress, which can also increase as we age, also play their part.
Further, reduced sexual activity can turn into a vicious cycle where it seems it’s a case of ‘use it or lose it’.
But you aren’t powerless. You can influence all of these factors. It just depends on the choices you make now to improve and maintain a healthy sex life.
For example, exercise helps sex organs stay in peak condition. Rewarding sexual experiences bolster arousal levels and make sex better in the future. In fact, frequent sexual activity when we are younger is associated with a slower decline in our sexual functions as we get older.
Keeping Sex Alive
Maintaining a healthy sex life as you age offers many physiological and psychological benefits. Here are some tips on how to keep your sex life alive:
Involve your partner
This may seem obvious, but with sex and sexuality often kept private, being on the same page as your partner often occurs by accident, rather than effective team work.
Be aware of your sex life’s health
Be honest with yourself. You don’t need to be paranoid, but you shouldn’t pretend that having a lackluster sex life is beneficial for you.
Create an environment of trust
If you create an environment of trust with your partner you have more opportunity to explore your sexuality and find out what you do, and don’t, enjoy.
You should set some ground rules. If having sex while staying at a friend’s house is your worst nightmare, for example, ensure you tell your partner that. Know your limitations, and feel free to express them.
Commit to being non-judgemental when discussing sexual issues, and avoid playing the blame game.
Recognize that tastes change
A person’s sexual needs and desires will change as they age, and it is important to recognize this.
Both you and your partner, for example, may need more stimulation, foreplay or lubrication. Start with kissing, as it will often lead to more. This might seem obvious, but in many long-term relationships, a simple kiss can be forgotten about, and sex along with it.
Consider buying a bottle of lubricant and keeping it by the bed. Use it if you need to and make it part of the fun.
As a couple, find out what sex toys you are both interested in, if any, and try them out. Or try ‘sexy talk’ to get in the mood. And don’t forget about phone sex, if you aren’t physically together at the time.
Discuss your sexual fantasies with one another. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to play them out; discussing them might be enough to get you in the mood.
Further, the amount of time it takes for a person to orgasm varies, so it’s important to realize that and allow it to happen for both of you.
Sex isn’t just about sex
Sex isn’t all about the sex act – it includes romance and intimacy, too. Start with a massage or intimate touch, or even choose not to have sex tonight and extend the intimacy with the promise of things to come.
Plan some time together without family or friends and go on a romantic date.
Don’t give up
Sex doesn’t have to be perfect every single time.
But if you want to increase your chances, make sure you are active and don’t overeat, as overweight and obesity can make sex more challenging.
Optimize your hormones
Low hormonal levels will reduce your libido. See your doctor to ensure your hormones are within optimal ranges.
Stress gets in the way of a healthy sex life, so managing it can improve sexual function and satisfaction. Try yoga, meditation, rhythmic breathing or other relaxation techniques.
Sex therapy has a high success rate in helping couples solve their sex-related problems with guided discussion and negotiation. There are a number of medical solutions too, apart from the little blue pill.
If you don’t feel comfortable going to sex therapy, see your doctor first and discuss with them any issues you might be having.
Take Time to Slow Sex Down
When it comes to living a long, healthy and happy life, one thing is crucial.
The Beatles sang “All you need is love” – and they may be right.
One of, if not, the most important aspect of ongoing happiness and good health is making and maintaining significant personal relationships. Many of us achieve this by finding compatible partners and forming lasting intimate partnerships.
Some believe sex makes us younger.
This isn’t about having the kind of relationship or vigor that makes frequent sex possible. A healthy sex life can be considered life enhancing.
Indeed traditional Tantrism doctrines speak of sexual ecstasy as a path to rejuvenation.
Sex is not a requirement for a loving relationship, nor is it a chore. It should be a positive experience, and taken ‘slow‘.
If we let our expectations of failure or other negative emotions drain the joy from sex, we also lose many of its potential health and wellbeing benefits. In fact, the health benefits of physical intimacy are closely linked to the degree of satisfaction we get from the experience.
Achieving a healthy sex life means satisfying the goals and targets we set for it.
We often put undue focus on a single performance goal (such as one partner’s orgasm, or mutual orgasms), whereas the whole is probably more important to our overall satisfaction. Plus, orgasms are far more likely when we feel a general sense of wellbeing.
One way to better sex is changing our conceptualizations. A common ‘slow’ theme is our emphasis on quality over quantity.
Traditional Tantric practices, for example, advocate non-goal-oriented sexual experiences, in which foreplay is prolonged and performed for its own sake, rather than as a means to an end.
Plan time just for you and your partner, away from kids, friends and family.
Schedule ‘couple time’ so the demands of your life don’t interfere with intimacy and sex doesn’t start to feel like a chore that has to be fit in between taking out the garbage and falling asleep.
Sex can be a long, sensuous session or a satisfying quickie. Discuss with your partner what works for you both and mix it up.
It is important we give ourselves adequate time to enjoy sex.
Try setting aside special times and creating a sense of place and purpose for sex, evoking all your senses.
Sex should take its time and may require us to engage in more, not less, foreplay as we grow older. That doesn’t mean avoiding spontaneity, but just as we take time to prepare a meal or enjoy life in general, we should be willing to take our time having sex.
Why rush a good thing?