Not many people realize that aging adults are among the most sexually active people. It’s generally assumed that people’s sex drive diminishes as they age. This is not true.
The biggest obstacle many aging adults face when it comes to sexual activity is the expectations society engrains on people. While it’s perfectly acceptable that people are sexually active during their 20s or 30s, the older people get, the more they are expected to lose their sexual appetite. In fact, attitudes start to shift, reflecting disgust that older people would even consider being sexually active, let alone that they should be dating.
For instance, women who reach the age of 50 are suddenly seen as “cougars” when they express sexual interest in any man, especially men that happen to be younger than they are. They are labeled as sexually voracious, dirty in the some way, and looked down on by society. Some even go to the extreme of calling them “horny old broads” in some cases. While men seem to enjoy a longer period of time when it’s “okay” for them to be sexually active, in their late 50s, they become labeled as “dirty old men” if they express sexual interest in anyone.
It can be a strain for an older couple to maintain a healthy sex life because of these stigmas. They end up feeling ashamed because of their sexual activity when there’s no reason why they shouldn’t continue being sexually active.
The body does change as one ages but the changes are different for men and women. For males, erections begin to take longer to occur. They may also not be as hard as they once were. Stamina takes a significant hit and it may take as long as 12 to 24 hours to “recover”. In most cases, a decrease in sexual desire is not the result of aging, but other health problems or depression.
For women, the biggest changes occur in her reproductive organs. The vagina becomes less elastic and the walls thin. There is a decrease in the amount of natural lubrication, meaning artificial lubricant is often needed. The vulva, labial, and clitoral tissues all shrink as do the size of the ovaries, uterus, and cervix. This is all due to menopause and the sudden lowering of estrogen levels in a women’s body.
Many seniors can obtain information about sex from their doctors. There should be no shame in asking what to expect as the body ages. The doctor is much more likely to be open with his answers because sex education has changed significantly in the past years. Previously, sex was not to be discussed openly except during special health classes and it was almost taboo to speak about it anywhere else. Now, sexual matters are discussed in many places.
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