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Healthy Sex Life for Older Adults

With the increase in erectile dysfunction drugs (and their prevalence in living centers and retirement homes), active sex lives are more common in older populations. That's a very good thing for senior health—people over 60 who have regular sex tend to be healthier than contemporaries who have sex less often or not at all.

Women

By age 55, women can expect to be sexually active for at least another 10 years. Without the concern about potential pregnancy, many postmenopausal women find they enjoy sex more. Here are suggestions for enjoying sex in this new chapter of your life.

Wash carefully.

Because vaginal pH rises with the decrease in estrogen associated with menopause, your chances for infections increase. Don't use soap to wash your vagina. Look for a cleanser that has the same pH as a healthy vagina instead. And be sure to urinate after sex to wash away bacteria; this practice can help prevent urinary tract infections.

Use some lube.

Lower hormone levels can leave your vaginal tissue thin and dry. Sex may become uncomfortable and undesirable. For many women lubricant will help, but others may find that vaginal estrogen is more effective in relieving dryness and other symptoms. Vaginal estrogen can be administered in tablet form, in an insertable ring, or in a cream.

Use protection.

Though you're no longer able to get pregnant, you can still contract sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), which are also on the rise in older populations; according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the rate of STDs in adults over 40 have increased over 50 percent since 1998. The best way to avoid catching something: male condoms. It's important to remember that condoms, which are made of latex, can only be used with water-based lubricants. Oil-based lubricants like Vaseline can break down the latex and cause the condoms to fail.

Men

You may not be able to perform like you did in your 20s, but sex can still be satisfying and rewarding well into your later years.

Don't ignore ED.

15 to 25 percent of American men over 65 have experienced impotence or erectile dysfunction (ED) on occasion. In older men, ED usually has a physical cause—heart disease, high blood pressure, or diabetes, for example—or is a side effect of medication. The good news is that treatment is available. Just let your doctor know what's going on.

Slow things down.

As you get older, it may take a while for both you and your partner to get up and going during intercourse. Let foreplay take as long as you need, and you'll cut down on the risk of injury. You'll also enjoy the experience more as you both build up together.

Experiment more often.

Sex doesn't have to be a nighttime-only activity. You may actually have more energy earlier in the day, so morning sex may be better for the both of you. Also, don't be afraid to try new positions. Some are specifically designed for people with arthritis, back pain, or other conditions that may make traditional positions hard or painful.


Content licensed from:

Written by: the Healthline Editorial Team
Published on: Sep 21, 2010
Medically reviewed : Andrea Baird, MD

This feature is for informational purposes only and should not be used to replace the care and information received from your health care provider. Please consult a health care professional with any health concerns you may have.
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