It goes without saying that our bodies change as we age—sometimes in ways that leave us less comfortable, interested, or even able enough to enjoy sex like we did in our youth. Nevertheless, many of us still want to keep having sex as long as our body and mind will allow. If you think you could use some sparks to rekindle the fire, here are some suggestions for your consideration. First, take care of your body, and learn to work with what you’ve got! In all things, self-care, self-love, self-acceptance, and communication are key to increased happiness and satisfaction. Libido and physical arousal can be affected by physical conditions like diabetes and high blood pressure, so make sure you have what you need to manage them. If you struggle with ED, medications and implants are proven to be effective, while vacuum pumps can be an affordable alternative when insurance cannot help. Vaginal dryness can be alleviated with lubricants and daily moisturizers. Erotic toys as well as “sexual positioning devices” can help compensate for decreased sensitivity or physical disability. And remember to take it slow. Foreplay helps get the blood flowing to our sexual organs, which leads to improved physical arousal and also reduces risk for injury. It may be embarrassing, but talking to your doctor about what kinds of sex you are having, or want to have, can lead to a plethora of tips and resources that will ensure your sex is as safe, healthy, and pleasurable as you want it to be. Also, and this may go without saying: GET TESTED REGULARLY FOR SEXUALLY TRANSMITTED INFECTIONS (STIs). Thankfully, for most, pregnancy is no longer a sex risk, yet other risks increase. A 2018 study by the Centers for Disease Control showed that rates for herpes simplex, gonorrhea, syphilis, hepatitis B, trichomoniasis and chlamydia rose 23 percent for people over the age of 60 between 2014 and 2017. That’s compared to 11% in the rest of the population over the age of 13. Male and female condoms (the latter used both vaginally and anally), and HIV-preventative medications like Truvada (or PrEP) become powerful tools for ensuring sex is as healthy as you want it to be. Finally, our mind and heart are as much a part of our sex life, as is the body. Finding the beauty in our aging body and finding pride in our present passions and abilities can vastly increase our confidence and pleasure. If relationship issues are putting a damper on desire, you can bridge the gap by talking openly with your partner about what language and actions leave you feeling loved, admired, and desired. And be ready to laugh together when it doesn’t go right! Sex can feel ridiculous sometimes, and laughter can ease some of the mood-killing pressure to perform. If you’re still struggling to connect with your body, your heart, or your partner, Certified Sex Therapists (CSTs) can give personalized recommendations which honor the whole person (body, mind, relationally, and sexually). Once we feel comfortable to be totally open, numerous solutions and ideas abound. In the end, we are deserving of sex that is satisfying and healthy. A little bit of courage can go a long way, so be brave and go get it on!
About The Author: Ben Walker is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker with a decade of experience serving and advocating for Older Adults and for TGNC/LGB/Kinky/Poly/Queer individuals and relationships. He specializes in working with Trauma, Grief/Loss/Dying, Sexuality, Gender, Anxiety, and Depression. He is currently working toward a certification in sex therapy, focusing on queer sex and sex in later life. More information about Ben can be found on our website.