Senior Sexual Health: Why it’s Time to Drop the Taboos

Learn about the benefits of sexual health for seniors and how misconceptions can prevent older adults from enjoying active sex life.

Senior Sexual Health: Why it’s Time to Drop the Taboos
Reviewed by Dr. David Zlotnick, Chief Medical Officer at Antidote Health

For many seniors, sexual health may not be the first thing on their minds. But it's important to remember that sexuality is a vital part of who you are, regardless of your age. As you get older, it's crucial to maintain your sexual health and well-being. It's vital to dispel the myths and misconceptions about sex and aging so that you can enjoy a healthy and fulfilling sexual life at any age. Keep reading to learn more about why sexual health for seniors is essential and how to maintain it.

What is Sexual Health?

Sexual health is more than just the absence of disease or dysfunction. It's about feeling sexually empowered and enjoying a satisfying sex life. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), sexual health is "a state of physical, mental, and social well-being in relation to sexuality." This means your sexual health includes your emotional and physical well-being and social life.

Letting go of Taboos

For many seniors, sex is still a taboo topic. Although over half of Americans over age 65 are sexually active, research shows they're not talking about it. Only 17% of adults over 65 reported discussing sexual topics with their physician or other professionals. 

This reluctance to talk about sex can be attributed to several factors, including the belief that sex is only for young people or embarrassing. It's not one-sided. However, it's important to remember that sexual activity is vital to overall health and wellness. It's never too late to talk about sex and learn more about how to keep your sexual health in tip-top shape.

Why is Sexual Health Important for Seniors?

There are many reasons sexual health is vital for seniors. For one, sex can help to stay physically active and fit. Sex is an exercise that can help older adults maintain muscle strength, flexibility, and balance. It can help reduce stress, improve sleep, and boost immunity. 

Sex can also improve self-esteem and body image. Recent research found that seniors who have sex regularly are more likely to feel happy and satisfied with their lives.

Sexual health is crucial for relationships. Good sexual health can help couples feel closer to each other and improve communication. Sex can also increase intimacy and trust. According to the National Institute on Aging (NIA), being sexually active can help keep couples connected as they age.

What Sexual Health Changes do Women Over 65 Experience?

As women age, they may notice changes in their sexual health. According to the Mayo Clinic, these changes include:

Vaginal dryness:

Vaginal dryness doesn't have to limit intimacy. As women age, they may produce less lubrication. This can cause pain during sex. Over-the-counter lubricants are available in many formulas, including many that offer other advantages to help with the mood.

Changes in libido:

A woman's sex drive may change. She may have less desire for physical intimacy. Hormonal differences, such as less testosterone, can cause a reduced libido. Couples' counseling, therapy, and the use of medications may help.

Changes in sexual response:

A woman may take longer to become aroused. Couples should talk and explore new ways to be intimate.

Orgasm changes:

A woman may have less intense orgasms or take longer to reach orgasm. These changes may come from social transition or psychological and physiological causes.

Speak with your physician if you have any questions or concerns about your sexual health.

What Changes in Sexual Health do Men Experience After 65?

As men age, it's not uncommon for them to experience changes in their sexual health. These physical and psychological changes impact a man's sexual performance, libido, and erectile function.

Some of the most common changes that men experience as they age include:

  • A decrease in testosterone levels. Testosterone is the hormone that plays a crucial role in sexual desire and performance. As men age, testosterone levels naturally decline, decreasing sexual desire and erectile dysfunction.
  • Erectile dysfunction. This is the inability to get or maintain an erection. Various physical and psychological factors can cause erectile dysfunction, including low testosterone levels, diabetes, heart disease, and anxiety.
  • A decrease in sperm count.
  • Changes in erectile response. It may take longer for a man to get an erection, and it may not be as firm as it used to be.

These are a few of the many changes that men may experience in their sexual health as they age. Though these changes are regular, they can frustrate and even embarrass some men. The good news is that the treatments available can help manage these changes and improve sexual health.

If you're experiencing any changes in your sexual health, talk to one of our expert clinicians [link to get started]. They can help identify the cause and recommend remedies.

How to Maintain Sexual Health After 65

Couples don't have to give up their sexuality as they age and there are several options for maintaining sexual health.

Here are a few tips:

See your doctor

Regular checkups are essential for overall health, including sexual health. Be sure to see your doctor if you're experiencing changes in your sexual function or desire. Additionally, it's crucial to undergo all routine cancer screenings appropriate for your age. Prostate cancer is the most common cancer in men over 65 and can impact sexual function. At Antidote, we are dedicated to your well-being and offer health plans to ensure you have access to the care you need. You can see a clinician 24/7, ensuring you receive the necessary medical attention.

Eat healthily and exercise

A healthy diet and regular exercise can improve sexual health by increasing energy levels, blood flow, and stress reduction. Add some variety to your routine with different activities, like yoga and swimming.

Increase oxytocin levels naturally 

Oxytocin is known as the "cuddle hormone" and plays an important role in sexual arousal. Couples can increase their oxytocin levels by cuddling, hugging, and massaging.

Limit Alcohol

Drinking too much alcohol can lead to erectile dysfunction and other sexual health problems. Also, alcohol can interact with some medications used to treat sexual problems.

Don't smoke

Tobacco and smoking aren't healthy. Smoking damages blood vessels and decreases blood flow, leading to erectile dysfunction. But it has sexual side effects, too.

Manage chronic health conditions

Chronic health conditions can impact sexual health. Manage conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol. These conditions can also lead to erectile dysfunction.

Pay attention to medication side effects

Some medications can cause sexual side effects, like low libido and erectile dysfunction. Talk to one of Antidote’s clinicians [link to get started] if you're concerned about a medication's side effects. They may be able to recommend an alternative treatment.

Communicate with your partner

Intimacy is about more than just sex; it's essential to keep the lines of communication open with your partner. Talk about your needs and wants, both sexual and non-sexual.

Explore new ways to be intimate

You may need to get creative as you age to keep the spark alive. Try new things, like massage or playful activities outside the bedroom.

Practice safe sex

Safe sex is important at any age. Use barrier methods, like condoms, to reduce the risk of STDs like gonorrhea, chlamydia, and genital herpes.

It's no secret that sexual health declines with age. After all, it's a natural part of the aging process. But that doesn't mean you must give up your sexuality as your age. You can still enjoy robust and active sex life with a little effort. There are plenty of ways to maintain sexual health as you age.

If you're experiencing changes in sexual health, it's crucial to consult your doctor. At Antidote, we provide a safe, secure, and private platform for online bookings for all your sexual health concerns. Moreover, we offer a variety of health insurance plans to ensure you have access to the care you need.

Our primary care clinicians can identify the underlying causes and recommend appropriate remedies. Seniors can schedule primary care appointments for all their sexual health needs. With the Antidote App, you can easily book an appointment with a specialist in your area, whether it's for a Viagra prescription or addressing issues related to estrogen loss.

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