As we age, it does not mean that we suddenly lose interest in having sexual intercourse – the opposite is true. Research studies in recent years show that it is actually very common to remain sexually active throughout life. Society’s growing awareness and communication about these issues, the increase in life expectancy of both men and women, the redefinition of sexual health as part of general health and the development of drugs and medical devices to improve sexual function, have contributed to changing attitudes among older couples seeking more and more professional help.
Sexual intercourse is an important art of our physical and mental health. In a relationship, sexual activity allows for the creation of intimacy between a couple and closeness, an expression of feelings for one another and reduces the general level of stress and causes the partners to feel good about themselves. However, for many couples, with advancing age and as the body and sexual function undergo changes, worry ensues regarding how these changes will be accepted by a partner. Some feel great embarrassment, nervousness or fear to the point that they prefer to abstain from sex completely. But there is really no reason to give up on it, as the fears, problems and changes that accompany old age can be bridged through sexual communication and thereby bring closeness to the sex life.
So what is sexual communication? Different researchers in the sexual field have stated that it involves conversing about the subjects connected to sexual preferences and desires, values regarding sexuality, previous sexual experience and the individual approaches to sexuality. Good quality sexual communication will be expressed in the feeling of satisfaction due to a dialogue which brings closeness, and is also connected with the approach of sharing everything with a partner – both positive aspects and difficulties with sexual intercourse.
In the aging population it is possible to use sexual communication that brings closeness in order to overcome the age-dependent problems of sexuality. Even if in the beginning there is a certain discomfort in openly and honestly sharing things connected with sexuality with your partner, it is important to practice this anyway, to share feelings, concerns, individual needs and expectations from a joint sexual experience, as well a the age-dependent problems you are experiencing. For example, when a woman reaches the age of 50 approximately, the levels of the female sex hormone estrogen deplete significantly, something that is likely to cause dryness and thinning of the vaginal tissue and be expressed with pain or discomfort during sexual intercourse. Additionally, there is likely to be a decrease in sexual desire and it is possible that it will take her longer to become sexually stimulated. Further, physical changes in the body and age-dependent weight-gain can affect confidence, including in the bedroom. In men, there is a decrease in testosterone, the male sex hormone, with advancing age, something that will be expressed in an increased length of time to get an erection, but also that that erection will not always be hard enough for penetration or that it will not always last long enough. In some men, delayed ejaculation may occur. Erectile dysfunction becomes more common with advancing age, though it does not necessarily happen to everyone.
Sexual communication between a couple is very important to the relationship and when both parties implement open and explicit sexual communication, it is possible to avoid many problems. Listen to the recommendations of Miriam Brenner, qualified sex therapist.