Vaginal dryness, erectile dysfunction — these are just some problems that can get in the way of having a sex life as we age. But aging alone should not keep you from enjoying sex.
Sexual pleasure and interest in sex does not decrease with age for many people. Older men and women can enjoy intimacy and pleasure through sex, as well as reaffirm their shared feelings of warmth, love, and affection.
There are even some advantages to sex at an older age. Women no longer have to worry about becoming pregnant. Lovemaking becomes a more intimate, sensual, and prolonged experience.
However, our bodies do change as we grow older, and couples may experience some difficulties in their sex lives. Among these are erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, and low libido. Fortunately, there are ways to relieve each problem.
Sex and Aging: Vaginal Dryness
Arousal is very complex in women and, as they age, women may find that they are not producing enough lubrication to ensure comfortable sex. Vaginal dryness is most often caused by decreasing levels of estrogen, particularly after menopause. A reduction in lubrication can cause the vagina to become less elastic. That, combined with friction, can make sex uncomfortable.
There are two main ways to deal with vaginal dryness. The remedy that you choose will depend on your lifestyle and your health history:
Lubricants. Adding artificial lubrication is the most direct remedy for vaginal dryness.
Hormonal therapy. To address the core issue, women might consider using estrogen creams or taking estrogen tablets. However, concerns have been raised that hormone therapy can increase a woman’s risk of breast cancer, heart disease, and stroke. You should consult with your doctor before proceeding with hormone therapy as a remedy for vaginal dryness.
Sex and Aging: Erectile Dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction is the leading sexual problem for older men. Some are unable to achieve and maintain an erection. Others take longer to achieve erection, or their erections tend to be softer and less full. When they ejaculate, it is with decreased force.
There are various body changes that conspire to cause erectile dysfunction, including:
*Reduced testosterone levels
*Decreased blood flow to the penis
*Impaired nerve function
*Erectile tissue that has become less elastic over time
However, the leading causes of erectile dysfunction are health problems, with heart disease, high blood pressure, and diabetes heading the list. Men who have gone through prostate cancer surgery also may have difficulty achieving an erection.
The best way to avoid erectile dysfunction as you grow older is to live a healthy lifestyle. Exercise regularly, eat a healthy diet, maintain a good weight, quit bad habits like smoking or drinking, and you’ll greatly reduce your chances of erectile dysfunction.
Men who do experience erectile dysfunction have various options, including:
Medications. Drugs like Sildenafil (Viagra), vardenafil (Levitra), and tadalafil (Cialis) have revolutionized erectile dysfunction treatment. They work by widening the blood vessels inside the penis, making a strong erection easier to achieve.
Penile injection. Men who don’t respond well to those drugs might consider medications that are injected directly into the penis to help achieve erection. A tiny needle is used. This technique works better for men with more serious health problems like diabetes.
Mechanical devices. Vacuum pumps and penile bands can help older men achieve or maintain a good erection.
Surgical implants. Men who aren’t helped by any of these techniques may want to consider surgery. Implants can be inserted that either keep the penis permanently erect or allow it to be inflated through the use of a pump located in the scrotum.
Sex and Aging: Low Libido
Many people simply lose their sexual urge as they get older or they may find it waning. Numerous problems related to aging can create low libido, including:
*Chronic health problems, like heart disease or diabetes
*Emotional problems such as depression or anxiety
*A reduction in the sex hormone levels in the body
*Medications you may be taking for a health problem
A person with low libido should speak to a medical professional. Your doctor may be able to switch you to a medication that doesn’t affect sex drive or help diagnose a health problem causing your lack of sexual interest.
Sex is a wonderful experience that can be shared and enjoyed throughout your life. Don’t assume that sexual activity must slow down just because you’re getting older. Address the effects of age, and keep enjoying intimacy.