Sexuality in old age

Many, especially young people today still consider sexuality to be something that stops when women can no longer have children. They believe that only adolescents can experience erotic tension properly and have a high desire for sexual satisfaction, while all of this diminishes more and more as from middle age, finally ending altogether. Young people are considered healthy, while the normal physical changes of old age are often equated with illness.

Sexuality in old age is normal

But it is true - even if only a few talk about it: Sexuality in old age is not an unusual, marvelous thing, but something quite normal. According to an American study, in a group with an average age of 86, 64% of women and 82% of men had regular sexual contacts. There is relatively little talk about this topic, as sexuality in old age is not as spectacular and exciting as it is in adolescence. Just different.

What does "sexuality in old age is different" mean?

There is no age limit for a satisfactory sexuality. However, the nature of sexual contacts changes with age. As a rule, the frequency of sexual contact decreases with age. It also shows a shift from sexual intercourse to increasingly other tender sexual contacts. For sexuality is not limited to sexual intercourse in all age groups.

However, in the group of people of very high age described above, as many as 63% of men and 30% of women reported having intercourse on a regular basis. But of course that's different for every man. However, there is a simple rule of thumb: For people who have been concerned with sexuality throughout their lives, they will remain old. Anyone who has had little interest in sexuality throughout their lives will not change that in their old age.

Age sexuality does not get easier. Apart from the fact that, of course, problems that have persisted in a partnership over many years persist, there are a number of factors that affect the quality of aging: the normal changes in our body, social problems, the effects of our lifestyle, the increase in disease and illness Effects of the treatment of diseases.

Changes in the body affect sexuality

The older we get, the more noticeable the changes in aging become. Our bones and joints become more susceptible to stress. Skin and hair become thinner and change the color. Internal organs are no longer functioning in the same way. Some of these physical changes also affect sexuality.

In women, estrogen levels in the blood drop during and after menopause (called menopause). Estrogens are the female sex hormones. As a result, the mucous membrane of the vagina is less elastic, becomes thinner and does not become so moist. As a result, sexual intercourse can often lead to injuries, the formation of small cracks in the mucous membrane, which can lead to pain.

Falling testosterone levels in men

Similarly, in men, the level of sex hormone testosterone after. In addition, the tissue of the penis increasingly loses its elasticity. These changes cause erections to develop less quickly and spontaneously. More physical stimulation is needed to achieve an erection. In addition, the penis is not quite as stiff in erections and the erection angle decreases. That means you do not "get it up (quite so)" and often you have to help a little bit or a woman.

In addition, the declining testosterone level causes the feeling of pleasure, the libido decreases a bit. All these changes have nothing to do with illness, but it may be useful to counteract them with medication.

Social problems

People who openly profess their sexuality in old age are often admired and ridiculed in our society. There are a number of famous people who show us that sexuality can be valuable in old age.

In addition to artists such as Zsa Zsa Gabor, Elizabeth Taylor, Pablo Picasso and Charles Chaplin, there are many prominent men such as Franz Beckenbauer, who in his second half of life was still two father, a good example of how to sexually even at a mature age stay active.

In particular, many people find it hard to imagine their parents and grandparents being sexually active. A cabaret artist once jokingly put it this way: "I would have given my dad such a dirty thing, but my mother never!"

Women are more often alone in old age

But besides these problems of acceptance there are also very serious problems: women have a much longer life expectancy than men. As a result, many older women do not have a partner to enjoy sexuality with.

While well over half of men over the age of 80 still have a partner, not even one in ten women with the same age still has a partner. Often missing after a loss of life partner and the courage to get involved again in a new partnership.

Which diseases affect sexuality?

Unfortunately, as you age, your body becomes more susceptible to illness. Many of these diseases affect sexuality. For example, more than half of older male patients with diabetes (diabetes) have erectile problems due to circulatory disorders or impaired nerve conductivity. Similarly, arteriosclerosis, popularly known as "vascular calcification", can lead to impaired blood flow to the erectile tissue.

In women and men, pelvic surgery may have negative effects on sexuality. In women, injuries to nerves and vessels can occur in the context of uterine removal, in men, this often happens in prostate (prostate gland) or bowel surgery. Problems with sexual sensation and erectile dysfunction can be the result.

Another problem that affects old age is urinary incontinence. Many older women and men suffer from an uncontrolled urination. Often the conversation with the partner and the doctor is difficult, although there are effective aids. Finally, in old age depressive moods occur more frequently, which can lead to a significant impairment of the sexual interest and the ability to experience. If the depression improves, the joy of sexuality also increases again.

Impaired by medication

It is often necessary to take medication for a long time or permanently in old age because of serious or chronic illnesses. Many of these medications can affect your sexual interest, arousal and your ability to experience.

The conversion to another drug can often provide a remedy. However, this should never be done arbitrarily, but only in close consultation with a doctor.

Some habits of life avenge themselves in old age

Many consequences of habits become noticeable only in old age. This applies to heavy cigarette smoking as well as excessive alcohol consumption or high fat and high cholesterol diet, which has led to obesity. Especially in men, this can increase already existing erectile dysfunction.

Dealing with changed conditions

For many changes in age, it makes sense to adapt his sexual behavior to the changed conditions. For example, it may be useful to find and try new, more comfortable positions for sexual intercourse. The exchange of caresses or masturbation may become more important than the actual sexual intercourse.

Often, more mature people find the lack of achievement pressure, which younger people expose themselves to be, as a special enrichment of the age sexuality.

Remedy by drug treatment

However, in many cases, especially with diseases and other disorders such as urinary incontinence, there are successful therapies. Especially in women, a hormonal replacement therapy has been found to be useful. Also, there are now very effective treatment options for erectile dysfunction in men.

Important for many sexual symptoms is also the treatment of the underlying disease. For example, an erectile dysfunction may be an indication of the presence of a previously overlooked condition requiring treatment, such as coronary heart disease.

Especially with depression, a drug therapy can increase the overall quality of life quite crucial and is usually indispensable for an improvement of the symptoms. However, it is important that you seek the interview with your doctor who can advise you competently. At first, talking about sexuality may be hard for you, but most sexual disorders nowadays have effective treatments.

Discuss sexual issues with the partner

The proverb already knows that "shared suffering, half suffering" is. Often, the partner unconsciously creates a lot of "pressure to perform" in a sexual relationship. And this pressure, often produced by speechlessness, can then lead to an amplification of existing sexual problems. Thus, addressing such a problem can take away a lot of tension, sometimes even completely normalizing the sexual relationship.

Since sexuality is always something that concerns two people, it is often helpful if your partner accompanies you to the doctor if you are considering seeking treatment. It can often take a lot of effort to address such a problem - not to mention it, secrecy, but in almost every case it is much more burdensome for a relationship in the long run.

Even in old age can treat sexual disorders

Advanced age is no reason not to perform a sexual disorder treatment. It is rather a question of attitude.

For example, while certain couples accept and take for granted the loss of male partner's erectile function as part of getting older, others are unhappy about having to forego a vital part of their lives. Therefore, age alone should not be an argument against treatment.

Today, 90-year-olds are being treated with the same success and methods as younger patients. This concerns medical treatments as well as psychotherapeutic ones.

Sexual performance pressure in men with younger partners

Many men who have a partnership with a significantly younger woman, often unintentionally, put themselves under sexual pressure. You mean to have to perform in bed the same "performance" as a much younger man - and this despite all physical change. This can then lead to the appearance of fear of failure up to mental erectile dysfunction.

Here it is important to avoid this competitive situation created by the men themselves and to reduce the resulting tension. A younger woman who chooses to partner with a mature man will have her reasons for that and appreciate certain values. And this also applies to the man to pay more attention than to focus on experienced deficits.

Also in the treatment of, for example, erectile dysfunction, an open discussion with the partner about treatment options, even if it is difficult at first, is much more helpful than the secret use of erectile aids.

Burden on the heart and circulation?

Some older people are worried that sexuality is too stressful in old age and that, for example, it could lead to an overload of the heart. This concern is relatively unfounded: sexual intercourse corresponds in its load in about swift climbing stairs. In principle, this means that those who can climb stairs do not have to be afraid of the physical strain of having sexual intercourse.

On the contrary, a recent study has shown that it appears that just those men who are sexually active for a long time have a longer life expectancy.

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