Practical tips for staying sexually healthy and active as we age.
Preparing for a Sexy Old Age : Start Now!
Maintain cardiovascular health – Healthy sexual functioning requires good blood flow for both men and women. If you haven’t already, find a form of exercise that you enjoy and that gets your heart rate up. Make time to exercise at least 4 times a week and be consistent. Also be vigilant about other threats to your cardiovascular health – quit smoking and learn habits for good nutrition.
Minimize alcohol and recreational drug use – Both alcohol and marijuana can have a depressant effect which can decrease sex drive. Overuse of alcohol or recreational drugs often have negative impact on your relationship and physical health. If you are having a problem controlling your drug or alcohol use or worry about your use, seek help, don’t wait for it to get worse.
Come to peace with your body and aging - One element of being happy with your body is to work on staying fit and healthy and, if desired to practice anti aging strategies. There is an overwhelming amount of info out about how to do these things and no doubt new strategies will be available to us on an ongoing basis. However, no matter how vigilant or extreme your approaches are to slow down aging, you will age and your body will change over time. Now is the time to identify painful, self critical thoughts and to address them. Realize that the images you see in the media are not real men and women but computer generated images of “perfected” people with wrinkles, ripples, body inches and bulges erased. Begin to explore the ways that you are sexy and desirable other than your looks. If you find it is really difficult to focus on positive aspects of your body or that you are often distracted with concerns about the way you look, seeking out therapy support may be a good choice.
Find sexy role models who are a cohort ahead of you – Happily, there are now increasing numbers of older men and women in the media who are presented as sexual and appealing. This is enlarging our cultural mindset about aging and sexuality. However, we also have to be aware that most of these role models are able to go to extreme lengths to maintain their looks. And the images we see of them are “corrected” to represent a perfected look, impossible for most of us. Look to people in your life who have aged in a way that inspires you. Maybe you have a great aunt who dated late in her life and looked like she was having a great time. Maybe you have a neighbor down the street who seems full of life in a way that is sexy to you.
Give and receive a lot of touch – Touch is good for you in so many ways, many of which boost your mood, immunity and your sense of happiness with your partner. Consciously reaching out to touch others, in sexual and nonsexual ways, keeps us connected. Like a perfumer can train their sense of smell to be stronger, you can actively keep your sense of touch strong and alive, which can allow you to enjoy more subtle forms of sexual touch. If you find you are not being touched often – ask for touch from people you love, seek out massage, get a cuddly pet.
Gently improve your flexibility and endurance - Exercise for fitness and strength is important but as we age, flexibility can be just as important in allowing us to feel good and do the things we want to do. Yoga, Dance or a full body athletic stretching routine would all be great choices to help stay limber and keep a variety of physical options open to you.
Talk to your doctor about meds you are prescribed and their sexual side effects – It is true many frequently prescribed medications have sexual side effects, but there are often strategies to try that can diminish negative effects. Advocate for yourself by asking your doctor about each new medication you take and bringing your concerns to their attention right away. If your doctor is unapproachable about sexual issues or discourages you from asking about this, you may want to find a new doctor. This is an important part of your life, you want your doctor to support you, and your sexuality, as you age.
Follow the discussion about hormone levels and hormone replacement therapies – There are a lot of hopeful signs as we increase our understanding of the role of Estrogen, Progesterone, and Testosterone in health, aging, and sexuality. There are still differing opinions and approaches to hormone supplementation, so talk to your doctor about your unique health profile and needs. It may be helpful to seek out a Naturopathic Doctor, who tend to look at hormone levels more regularly, for consultation as well. It is clear there is not a one size fits all answer here, but it is worth exploring what might work for you.
Develop a broad sexual repertoire – If what you do sexually is limited to vigorous penetration in one position, problems with erections, lubrication, painful intercourse, or even back problems will create a big block to your sex life. However, if you engage in a lot of sexual behaviors, seeking physical pleasure from more than just your genitals, feel comfortable being creative in bed (or out of bed!) with your partner, you will be able to easily work around injuries or other limiting factors. Start expanding your sexual script, don’t rely on the same things each time. Enjoy exploring now and you will always find options to keep you happy later.
Keep sexuality a regular part of your life – You don’t need a partner to keep yourself sexually active; masturbation and fantasy are both great ways to maintain sexual responsiveness. For women, the more you orgasm, the easier it is for you to orgasm later. Also consistent stimulation of the vagina provides healthy blood flow and can help keep the tissues healthy and make future penetration more comfortable. For both men and women, knowing how your body responds, what excites you, and your body’s pathway to orgasm will enhance your sex life with or without a partner. Consciously making time and energy for sex to play a role in your life is key to having a sexy old age. It is up to you!