Aging Sexual Health for Men & Women
Tony Wells, M.Ed. & Current School of Social Work Student, The University of Georgia
Today's older adults are very active, on the go and still doing many things they enjoyed as younger adults. Sex and intimate relationships are no different. Many adults continue to share fulfilling relationships that can positively affect all aspects of their lives, including physical health and self-esteem (CNN Health, 2003).
During my studies of older adults thus far, I have learned that there are many misconceptions and stereotypes about aging sexuality. According to the media, sex is viewed by our society as something for young adults. I feel that sexuality is ageless. People never outgrow the need for love, affection and intimacy. Contrary to popular belief, many older adults continue to have sexual fantasies and desire sexual intimacy well into their eighties and ninties (CNN Health, 1998).
According to research, sexual activity level may decline in older adults and increasing sexual dysfunctions may occur, it is estimated over 70% of men and 20% of women over the age of sixty are still sexually active(Kaplan & Sadock 1998). Further research shows that these changes of aging and the duration of marriages and partnerships can have adverse effects, it is clear that the sex drive for men and women does not decrease with age (Harrigan & Farmer 2000).
Natural Changes in Men and Women as they Age
Women deal with physical issues linked to menopause and reduced estrogen levels. As women age, it takes longer for the vagina to lubricate and to accomodate the penis causing burning and discomfort (CNN Health, 2003). Longer foreplay, use of lubricants, doctor prescriptions for estrogen therapy, as well as talking to your partner about comfort levels can help make intercourse more pleasurable. Below I have listed eight very interesting and informative sites designed just for women covering sexual behavior, diet and exercise, prescription and alternative medication for sexual dysfunction, sexual diseases, interactive websites from radio broadcast to women talk shows, and world news on sexual health and aging:
Men face issues surrounding erectile dysfunction and longer times before ejaculation. Men should talk to their doctors about prescriptions to aid dysfunction or try positional techniques for greater pleasure. Also, performance enhancing items such as penile injections or pumps are helpful. Sexual dysfuntion in men is often associated with psychological changes due to the stress of performance, poor body image, and appearance (CNN Health, 2003). It is highly recommended by doctors for men to talk openly with their partners about these issues so that emotional support can help alleviate anxiety. Below I have included several useful links discussing issues important to men such as; mental health, nutrition and exercise, herbal alternatives, interactive online message boards, sexual diseases, and the lastest world news on men sexual health and aging:
CNN Health Libraries. (2003, November 18). Intimacy and aging: tips for sexual health and happiness. Retrieved October 11, 2004, from http://www.cnn.com/HEALTH/library/00035.html
Schneider,R. L., Kropf, N. P., Kisor, A. J. (2000. Gerontological Social Work: Knowledge, Service Setting, and Special Populations (2nd ed.). Canada: Wadsworth.