Health and Sexuality are Linked

The kids are grown and flown and perhaps careers are winding down or at least well established, and couples once again have time and space for romance. Health problems can affect sexuality as men and women grow older but by talking with your doctor and your partner, older adults can maintain intimacy and gain a surprising number of added benefits. 

According to a recent McMaster Optimal Aging Portal post, some health conditions may affect libido and the ability to have sex, but the desire for and benefits of sexuality are ageless.  And as society begins to break down ageist stereotypes that older adults aren’t interested in sex, more can be done to promote healthy sexuality at any age.  

Whether it’s post-menopausal vaginal dryness or lower testosterone levels in aging men, talking with your doctor about treatment options can help older adults overcome many challenges to staying sexually active.  Any overall health problem is likely to affect sexual health and some medications can hinder arousal or make it difficult to have an orgasm.  Communicate with your doctor about any prescription drug side effects that affect sexuality; alternative or additional medications may be available. 

Illness and caregiving can also affect sexuality especially if pain, medications or stress are paramount.  Creating moments for touch and intimacy can help couples feel loved and supported.   Adapting to changes in sexual health allows older adults to maintain a satisfying sex life that can help lower stress levels and blood pressure, protect heart health, improve sleep and possibly even reduce the risk for prostate cancer among men. Studies have also found that a healthy sex life can boost cognition, support the immune system and alleviate pain.  

Learn more about sexuality later in life by following this link to the National Institute on Aging.