Is your sexual response lagging lately? You’re not alone. “The truth is we produce less estrogen and testosterone as we age,” says Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology at the University of Washington and author of 50 Great Myths of Human Sexuality. The result is not just a slow-down in the frequency of sex, but lower satisfaction. “You have to be more attentive to orgasm than you used to be to achieve it,” she says.
But that’s no reason to give up. “Sex doesn’t have an expiration date,” Dr. Schwartz says. If you want to have more orgasms, here’s what the experts recommend:
1. Cut back on drinking and smoking
“Smoking and drinking are the worst offenders,” says Dr. Schwartz. “They narrow the blood veins and arteries and make it harder to get blood into the genital area.” Stopping or cutting back can enhance orgasm and even revive your sex life.
Regular workouts can also improve sluggish blood flow, says Joan Price, author of The Ultimate Guide to Sex Over 50. In fact a University of California at San Diego study showed middle-aged men who started exercising for an hour three to four times a week reported more frequent sexual activity and orgasms. And researchers at the University of Texas at Austin found that when women cycled vigorously for 20 minutes, they boosted blood flow to genital tissue 169 percent. The take-home: “Exercise before sex,” Price advises.
3. Put it on your to-do list
“The more orgasms you have, the easier it will be to have them,” says Price, who advises putting them on the calendar. Schedule two orgasms a week at a minimum, either with a partner or by yourself. “If you get into a regular habit of having orgasms, whether you are in the mood or not, the more you will want them and the more easily they will be to achieve,” she says.
4. Experiment with a vibrator
“The older we get, the more we require extra stimulation in order to get to the same place,” says Laurie Betito, Ph.D., a psychologist specializing in sexuality and author of The Sex Bible for People Over 50. “And women need more direct stimulation to the clitoris.” Vibrators and other sex toys designed to enhance sensation are available from companies like Good Vibrations or even Amazon.
5. Postpone dinner
Romantic dinners aren’t a good idea if you’re thinking about having sex. “They actually make orgasm more difficult because all of your blood flow is directed at the digestive tract instead of the genitals,” Price says. So take a bedroom detour before dining out—or get your meal delivered.
6. Talk about it
As your body ages, your sexual needs also change. “If your partner uses the same techniques that used to get you going, you may not get what you need,” Dr. Betito says. The same goes for your partner. Try to keep the lines of communication open as you notice shifts in your desire and response.
7. Avoid painful sex
Declining estrogen levels can lead to vaginal dryness and irritation—ouch! “Pain takes away the ability to relax in order to experience orgasm,” Dr. Betito says. Talk to your doctor about a prescription estrogen product—vaginal creams or tablets—and stock up on over-the-counter lubricants and moisturizers.
8. Address serious concerns
Rates of erectile dysfunction increase with age, which can wreak havoc on your love life. Lifestyle changes, such as exercising, quitting smoking, and following the Mediterranean diet—rich in fish, nuts, vegetables, and olive oil—can often help. But if problems are severe, ask your physician about other options, from pills to injections.
9. Go solo
Health and relationship changes don’t have to prevent you from experiencing pleasure. Says Price, “Sexuality is something we can celebrate and enjoy, whether or not we have a partner.”
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