Archive » January 13, 2011
By Fred Cicetti, Contributing Writer
Q. This may sound bizarre to you, but I think there are prostitutes visiting a senior-citizen housing project near my home. Could I be imagining this?
I don’t find this bizarre at all. People without partners who still desire sex have been known to order home delivery. I suspect that you are having trouble believing your eyes because you don’t think older men and women are having sex. And, if that’s what you think, you are mistaken.
A recent survey of 3,005 U.S. adults between 57 and 85 published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that there’s a lot of love after the bloom. Here’s a breakdown of those reporting that they were sexually active:
• 73 percent between the ages of 57 and 64
• 53 percent between the ages of 65 and 74
• 26 percent between the ages of 75 and 85 But, hey, the sex wasn’t always easy. Half of the survey respondents reported at least one problem.
The leading obstacle for women was low sexual desire (43 percent). The top problem for men was erectile dysfunction (37 percent).
But there’s more. As a woman ages, her vagina becomes thinner, less flexible and drier, so intercourse can be painful. Older men suffer from reduced libido, too. Both men and women can have trouble climaxing.
Then there are illnesses – and the medications to treat them – that can get in the way of a night/matinee/morning of passion. These illnesses include heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, hormone abnormalities and emotional difficulties.
Fortunately for seniors today there is better sex through chemistry. Men can treat their erection problems with drugs such as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis. Women can make sex more comfortable with over-the-counter lubricants, inserts and hormone supplements. Other available treatments for erectile dysfunction include vacuum devices, injections and penile implants.
“We need to take time to make love to our partners,” explains Robert Schwalbe, Ph.D, a New York psychoanalyst and author of Sixty, Sexy, and Successful. “We need to cuddle and kiss. You may very well find out that adapting your sex life in this way results in more satisfying sex rather than less satisfying sex.”
Honest communication between partners is critically important to relationships as we get older and our bodies change. Couples can drift apart over misunderstandings about emotional and physical needs. Speak up.
Discussing senior sex in the media was simply not done until those crazy and liberating 1960s, when Masters and Johnson published their findings on sex. But, today, even though there has been substantial research about sex among the elderly, there are still lingering misunderstandings about the subject.
So let’s set the record straight. The research has found the following among seniors:
• Sexual interest and the need for sexual contact continue throughout the life cycle
• For many, sexual satisfaction increases
• Regular sexual activity is standard when a partner is available
• Most elderly believe that sex contributes to both physical and psychological health.
• Physical capacity for male and female orgasm continues almost indefinitely
• Sexual practices are varied
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