Like a fine bottle of wine, I truly believe that we become better, more robust and wiser as we age. Experience almost always trumps enthusiasm, and intimacy is no different. Through experience, older adults develop a more complete sexual road map than their younger counterparts. As we age, we acquire a greater understanding of our own bodies, our partners' bodies and what buttons to push to please them both.
Last week I was out to dinner when an older couple caught my eye. It was clear to me that both the man and the woman, who were probably in their 70s, dressed up for the occasion. They held hands across the table, toasted each other with red wine and exchanged knowing glances and smiles all night. These two are exemplary of so many older couples that share an intimacy younger couples cannot experience.
Who doesn't want to be the older couple that still flirts publicly? Remember, the only person who keeps you from being sexy is you. Harness that sexiness and find a way to explore it and share it with your partner. Be the couple you have always aspired to be.
It's time to celebrate the many ways that sex gets better as we age!
Anyone who tells you that your sex life will come to an end when you reach 50 is seriously mistaken. Just remember: Sexiness is timeless. Make a decision each day to get in touch with your sensual side and bring that excitement to your relationship in order to achieve a more fulfilling sexual life and relationship at every age.
"Medications that are prescribed for stroke issues and heart issues can have devastating effects on sexual functioning," explains Dr. Janice Epp of the Institute of Advanced Study of Human Sexuality. In addition, researchers have found that a family of <a href="http://www.springerlink.com/content/0483x4276q80417q/" target="_hplink">antidepressants known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI) can take the winds right out of your sails</a>. These drugs include brand names such as Prozac, Zoloft and Paxil.
Don't be shy -- talk to your doctor about how your prescriptions are affecting your sex drive. "There are a whole lot of new drugs that don't necessarily have those side effects, but it takes a lot of experimenting," says Dr. Epp. "Sometimes it takes three to four different tries to find the one that's best for you."
"People of both sexes can develop pain disorders as they get older, and that can have a big effect on sexuality," notes Patty Brisben, founder and chairwoman of Pure Romance, a company that specializes in selling sex toys and providing information on women's sexual health issues.
Brisben suggests re-evaluating your definition of sex. "Being intimate does not necessarily mean having sex in the traditional sense," she says. Some solutions sensual touching and massages and mutual masturbation. Dr. Epp suggests looking into new positions. "Sit on a chair, try being in different positions," she says. "Side by side actually puts the least amount of stress on your joints."
The <a href="http://www.sleepfoundation.org/article/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need" target="_hplink">National Sleep Foundation</a> recommends getting seven to eight hours of shut eye a night. But with the stress of work, kids, bills and, oh yeah, your marriage, who can think about fitting in time to have sex, much less sleep?
For some couples the days of random romps may be behind them, and that's alright, says Dr. Epp. "Plan some sex dates around times that you know you feel more energetic -- it lets you look forward to it," she says. "Some people say, 'Sex should be spontaneous!' to which I say bullsh*t," she says, laughing. "You plan other things in your life and you don't complain about it. You can do the same with sex."
Waning libido and vaginal dryness are two unpleasant side effects of menopause. With increased longevity, "women can now expect to spend a third of their lives in post-menopausal years," Brisben said. "So understanding how you're being affected by those changing hormones is essential."
A dip in estrogen may lead to thinning vaginal walls and itchiness in the area. According to the Mayo Clinic, <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/vaginal-dryness/DS00550/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs" target="_hplink">treatments can include </a>vaginal estrogen creams such as Estrace and Premarin; a flexible estrogen ring that is inserted; or estrogen pills, patches or gels.
"I think if you're just now embracing this subject at or around age 50, you've got some catching up to do!" Brisben tells <em>Huff/Post50</em>. But it's never too late to start having a frank and honest conversation with your partner about what you want in bed.
"I recommend having these conversations out of the bedroom and when you have some alone time," Brisben says. "Be open, be receptive and be ready to listen." Don't be afraid to bring some playfulness to the discussion. "Shop online for intimacy products together," Brisben suggests. Or write your partner a letter: "Tell them what you'd like to introduce into your intimate relationship." Another tact: Read sexy books together and share what interests you and what doesn't. "If you find these conversations are still hard to have ... a sex therapist or counselor is trained to help," Brisben adds.
It's the one part of aging and sexuality that gets the most attention: erectile dysfunction, which is <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/erectile-dysfunction/DS00162/DSECTION=causes" target="_hplink">often rooted in some larger physical problem, including heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and obesity</a>, according to the Mayo Clinic. Medications and drug and alcohol use can also play a role.
Ubiquitous ads promote the popular little blue pill to cure impotence, but there are <a href="http://www.mayoclinic.com/health/erectile-dysfunction/DS00162/DSECTION=treatments-and-drugs" target="_hplink">other treatments as well, including vacuum pumps, implants and surgery</a>, according to the Mayo Clinic.
According to the movies or steamy prime time television shows, passion goes from 0 to 69 with a mere glance, a bitten lip or a bad pun. But "as we age, our bodies slow down and we have less energy," Dr. Epp tells <em>Huff/Post50</em>. "That's naturally occurring, but it can have an affect on our sexuality."
Rethink the connection between arousal and desire. Tell your partner if you need more than the <a href="http://www.womansday.com/sex-relationships/sex-tips/sex-by-the-numbers-103274" target="_hplink">average 20 minutes spent on foreplay</a>.