Sex Education - At My Age?
As our bodies age, our sex lives can be affected. Learn how to maintain healthy intimate relationships.

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Picture of elderly man and woman Sex Education - At My Age?

The bees do it. The birds do it. What's to learn?

Doing what comes naturally at age 25 doesn't always work at age 70. Men may have trouble keeping an erection. Women may have vaginal dryness. Illness and medication can affect your sex drive and performance.

This doesn't mean your sex life is over at age 60, 70, or even 80. It may just be time for a refresher course. Being older and wiser comes with new sexual issues. Intimacy can still be thrilling and wonderful. You may need to make some changes, though, such as more foreplay.

One of biggest obstacles in sexual health is that many people avoid the subject. You may not ask for help because you are embarrassed. It's OK to ask your doctor questions about sex and age-related changes. A healthy sex life adds to your overall well-being.

Rx for sex
Many couples have problems with sex at some point. The problem can be physical or emotional. But changes in sexual health are so common that they're only considered a problem if they bother you or your partner. What's normal at one point in your life may not be later on. And what's normal for one couple may not be for another.

But if sexual issues are affecting your relationship, a medical exam is a good first step. Your doctor may be able to help you right away. Changing a blood pressure medicine may allow a man to have erections again. Vaginal cream may do away with a woman's pain during intercourse.

In other cases, your doctor may order lab tests to look for other conditions. Impotence could stem from diabetes or heart problems, for instance. Hormonal changes can cause you to lose desire. In some cases, your doctor may refer you to a mental health counselor or marriage and family therapist.

Treatment for sexual problems can involve:

  • Education, such as learning new positions to adjust for arthritis
  • Medications that treat impotence, vaginal dryness, or hormonal changes
  • Different sexual activities, such as masturbation, massage, or fantasy
  • Counseling for emotional problems
  • Exercise to increase strength and flexibility
  • Surgery, which can help some conditions

Depression and anxiety can affect your performance. Therapy can help treat these conditions. Resolving any marital conflicts may also improve your sex life. If you don't have a partner, a therapist can help you find other ways to be close to people. And remember that sexually transmitted diseases can occur at any age, so always practice safe sex.

Aging doesn't take away the desire for closeness or sensuality. Enjoying physical intimacy never gets old.

By Eve Glicksman, Staff Writer
Created on 07/03/2007
Updated on 03/02/2011
Sources:
  • American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists. When sex is painful.
  • North American Menopause Society. Fixes for a stalled sex life.
  • University of Michigan Geriatrics Center. The sex matters clinic - Q&A.
  • National Institute on Aging. Sexuality in later life.
  • American Psychological Association. Treatment for sexual problems.
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