Sex gets better with age
Sex in old age
Sexuality and lust in old age are still very little discussed, they almost border on a taboo. Most people cannot imagine a fulfilling sex life beyond the age of 60 because they automatically associate sexual activity with "being young".
Older men are only just given a livelier sex life - but mostly only in connection with a young woman. For example, there is often the misconception among men that a line must be drawn with regard to sexual pleasure in women after the menopause.
The fact is, however, that older men are more likely to see major changes in their sexuality (erectile dysfunction, etc.). In women, sexual interest increases up to the age of 35 and then remains at this level for a long time.
Surveys show that over a third of women between the ages of 60 and 80 have sex, and even more women are expressing an interest in it. Masturbation is also very important to these women and offers an opportunity to live out sexuality.
What changes in terms of sex should women expect in old age?
In principle, for older women after the menopause, sexuality remains an important source of vital energy, self-esteem and the feeling of community as a partner. The intensity of pure physical desire decreases with age, but not the desire for tenderness, sexuality and satisfaction. The excitement is slower, it takes longer for the vagina to become moist.
Many older men can also take a little more time to get an adequate erection. Therefore, foreplay should become more important in old age. In any case, the ability to orgasm does not change with age.
Disruptive factors that can impair sex are primarily physical illnesses, chronic pain - which naturally occur more frequently with increasing age - emotional and partnership problems, fears, etc.
In a survey, up to 32 percent of older women stated a lack of tenderness, and up to 41 percent complained of insufficient sexual contact because the partner was disinterested, ill or impotent, or because they had relationship problems. For about 13 percent, sex was reduced to a mere routine exercise, which was often due to communication problems.
Often, however, the very idea of "being too old to have sex" prevents people from sleeping together. A fulfilling sex life keeps the spirits alive and is also beneficial for health.
What are the advantages of sex in old age?
Compared to "teenage sex", "mature sex" actually has certain advantages. So you don't have to worry about contraception anymore. The ability to orgasm is sometimes even better because certain stresses that often occur during puberty are eliminated. Even in adulthood there are phases in which the expression of sexuality has to be put on hold due to external factors. This can lead to difficulties in the partnership, especially during the time when the offspring needs a lot of attention.
In addition, men over 40 are much less likely to have premature ejaculation. The love game lasts longer overall and is therefore also perceived as more satisfying. The pressure to get an orgasm or to have to stimulate your partner to climax tends to disappear because the needs, desires and demands of sex shift. The feeling of well-being through the perceived closeness often replaces the desire for satisfaction through physical "top performance".
The vagina getting wet (lubrication)
As women get older, they have more problems with "vaginal moisture", known as lubrication. The skin of the vagina secretes a clear fluid. This fluid is pressed out of the vascular network that surrounds the vagina. The greater the excitement, the better this plexus is supplied with blood and the more fluid can moisten the vagina. In older women, it sometimes takes a little longer before enough secretion is formed for "smooth" sexual intercourse.
Estrogens are a decisive factor influencing vaginal moisture. After the menopause, the level of estrogen in the blood decreases. This makes the vaginal skin thinner. It becomes atrophic, meaning that it is no longer supplied with blood and nutrients that well, and the vaginal tube becomes more rigid. The reduced blood flow also changes the composition of the vaginal secretions. The vaginal wall becomes more prone to infection, which can cause pain and contact bleeding during sex.
With an estrogen substitution - hormone replacement in the form of tablets or as a cream locally in the vagina - the problem of the "dry vagina" can be alleviated or eliminated. In addition, there are odorless and tasteless creams or gels to increase the lubricity in the vagina.
Another problem that can limit sexual activity in old age is urinary incontinence. It should be noted here that this disorder is not limited to women who have given birth to children, but can affect any woman. The uncontrolled loss of urine during sexual intercourse is perceived by many women as bothersome and embarrassing, so they avoid sexual contact.
In many cases, however, incontinence can be treated well. The exact diagnosis is essential, as a result, the symptoms can be relieved by medication or surgery. The training of the pelvic floor muscles also plays a major role in the treatment.
The proportion of women who have to have their uterus and / or ovaries removed increases with age. However, the distance is not an obstacle to a fulfilling sex life. The uterus has no function for sexual intercourse.
As a result of the operation, however, pain from adhesions in the abdomen or from scars in the vaginal blind sack can occur, which limit sexual interest and reduce pleasure. Some women experience emotional pain after the operation because the body is no longer perceived as "intact" due to the loss of the uterus. If the ovaries are also removed, the level of estrogen drops.
Cancer surgery can have a major impact on sexuality in a relationship. The physical consequences of radiation therapy include inflammation in the vagina, which can, however, be treated. Cancer surgery, especially breast cancer, can put a lot of strain on the relationship.
Both partners have to learn to find each other anew in their sexuality and, for example, to deal with a physical change. However, especially after cancer therapy, the possibility of physical closeness, tenderness and also the satisfaction of sexual desire means an enormous increase in quality of life.
Internal diseases occur more frequently with increasing age, and of course these also have a negative impact on sexual contact. These include diabetes, high blood pressure, rheumatic diseases and many others. Mental illness and depression also have a very strong impact on sex life.
Side effect of medication
Compared to younger people, seniors usually have to take medication much more often. Many preparations can directly or indirectly reduce the feeling of pleasure through interactions.
Older women often live alone, there is a "shortage of men". The women-to-men ratio for 60-year-olds is 1: 1, for 70-year-olds 3: 2 and for 80-year-olds there are two women for every man.
According to a study in the USA, the level of education of women over the age of 50 is directly related to their perceived satisfaction with sex, their ability to experience pleasure and have orgasms. Fears of failure are less common among these women, and self-confidence is more pronounced than that of their less educated female counterparts.
What can be done to support sexuality in old age?
There are no generally applicable rules. Ultimately, everyone has to recognize their wishes, dreams and needs and try to fulfill them. As is the case at a young age, this includes the opportunity to communicate and to be open to others and to yourself. An important prerequisite for a fulfilling sex life is the reduction of feelings of shame towards one's own body. In addition, one should not impose any performance constraints on oneself when living out one's sexuality.
If there are physical or partnership problems, these can be remedied or at least improved with the help of medical or therapeutic advice. It is important to overcome the existing taboos regarding sexuality in old age and to go an individual way.
However, rethinking one's own way of thinking is not sufficient in this regard; the environment, one's own children and grandchildren as well as the nursing staff in old people's homes etc. must grant older people their right to sexuality.
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Dr. Britta Bürger
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