Some older adults give up having a sex life due to emotional or medical challenges. But the vast majority of these issues do not have to be permanent. You can restart a stalled sex drive—and get your sex life back in motion.
Remember that maintaining a sex life into your senior years is a matter of good health. Try thinking of sex as something that can keep you in shape, both physically and mentally.
Typical Sex Anxiety
The path to satisfying sex as you age is not always smooth. Understanding the problems can be an effective first step to finding solutions. So, what are the typical worries that most middle-aged people usually face?
Emotional obstacles. Stress, anxiety, and depression can affect your interest in sex and your ability to become aroused. Psychological changes may even interfere with your ability to connect emotionally with your partner.
Body image. As you notice more wrinkles or gray hair or become aware of love handles or cellulite, you may feel less attractive to your partner. These feelings can make sex less appealing and can cause you to become less interested in sex.
Low self-esteem. Changes at work, retirement, or other major life changes may leave you feeling temporarily uncertain about your sense of purpose. This can undermine your self-esteem and make you feel less attractive to others.
Worry over “performance.” Worrying about how you will perform, or whether you are worthy of sexual attention from your partner, can lead to impotence in men and lack of arousal or orgasm in women. This may be a problem you have never before had to face. Sex drives can be naturally stalled as you face the realities of aging, but it is possible to overcome these bumps in the road.
What should I do?
Communicate. Talk to your partner, or to a friend or counselor, about your issues, whether they’re physical or emotional. Explain the anxieties you are feeling, ask for and accept reassurance, and continue the conversation as things come up.
Just “do it.” Sex is just as healthy and necessary as exercise and, just like exercise, it may surprise you with pleasure and satisfaction—even if you weren’t “in the mood.” So get back into practice. Once you’re back in the habit, you’ll start to feel better and your sex drive should naturally increase.
Increase your activity level. Bumping up your general level of activity will benefit your sex drive by increasing your energy and sense of well-being.
Let it go. As much as you can, use your age and experience to be wise and candid with yourself. Let go of your feelings of inadequacy and let yourself enjoy sex as you age.
Know When to Seek Help
No matter what your age, losing your desire for intimacy and touch altogether isn’t normal. In fact, loss of interest or function may be signs of a medical problem — one that may be best addressed by a doctor.
If something is getting in the way of your desire or ability to have a good sex life, don’t let embarrassment keep you from asking a doctor for help. Working with a professional, there is much you can do to improve your sex life.
Keep in mind that anything that affects your general health and well-being can also affect your sexual function. Sexual health can be affected by:
Medical conditions. Illnesses that involve the cardiovascular system, high blood pressure, diabetes, hormonal problems, depression, or anxiety can affect sex drive and function. You can talk to your doctor about strategies to combat these issues.
Medications. Certain medications can inhibit your sexual response, including your desire for sex, your ability to become aroused, and your orgasmic function. You can talk to your doctor about switching to a different medication with fewer sexual side effects.
Sex after a heart attack
Many older adults with heart disease — or who’ve suffered a past heart attack — are less sexually active than they used to be or even stop having sex completely, often fearing that sex may trigger another heart attack. However, for most people, it is still possible to enjoy an active sex life with heart disease.
According to a recent study, for every 10,000 people who have sex once a week, only two or three will experience another heart attack, and their risk of dying during sex is extremely low.
Check with a doctor before resuming sexual activity.
Participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program to improve your fitness.
If you can exercise hard enough to work up a light sweat without triggering symptoms, you should be safe to have sex.
Wait to have sex if you have advanced heart failure, severe valve disease, uncontrolled arrhythmia, unstable angina, unstable or severe heart disease.
Once your condition is under control, ask a doctor when it’s safe to resume sexual activity.
You can get in touch with one of our qualified experts to ask any questions that you are probably bothered with.