Sex After Sixty: Is It Good For Both Of You?
Research shows that our libidos can still be strong well in our sixties and beyond – for both men and women. A recent report by the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing found that two-thirds of men and women aged 50-90 years old said that sex was an important part of a relationship. They also found that people are still sexually active into their 80s and 90s.
In the first study of its kind study researchers looking at more than 2,000 people in their 60s, 70s and 80’s found that sex in later stages of life could be more beneficial for women than men and that older men who had regular sex were more likely to have a cardiovascular event, such as heart attack of stroke. Women, on the other hand, had distinct health benefits.
Bad news for men
The study, published in the ‘Journal of Health and Social Behaviour’, found that older men having sex at least once a week were at greater risk of over-stressing their hearts, compared to those who were sexually inactive. In fact, those older men who found sex extremely pleasurable had a greater risk of cardiovascular events than men who felt less strongly. No such link was found in women who reported good sex lives, with high levels of satisfaction. In fact, most were found to have lower blood pressure – protecting them against heart disease – than those who were sexually inactive. Said Hui Liu, MSU associate professor of sociology, at Michigan State University in the US, “Strikingly, we find that having sex once a week or more puts older men at a risk for experiencing cardiovascular events that is almost two times greater than older men who are sexually inactive.”
Advanced age is also a time when sexual problems become more common for men. Evidence suggests that sexual relationships may take their toll on men as they get older because older men have more difficulties reaching orgasm for medical or emotional reasons than their younger counterparts. They may exert themselves to a greater degree of exhaustion and create more stress on their cardiovascular system in order to achieve climax. Additionally, some of these risks may be exacerbated through the use of Viagra and other sexual stimulants among older men; however, there is little scientific evidence to date to back up this theory.
Good for women
For women, the findings were more positive but, significantly, the quality of sex was important. Benefits were only noted among women who reported high levels of satisfaction and enjoyment from sex. Previous studies indicate that a strong, deep and close relationship is an important source of social and emotional support, which may reduce stress and promote psychological well-being and, in turn, cardiovascular health. Other factors include the release of the hormones, such as oxytocin, which has been shown to reduce blood pressure.
Researchers recommended that older male patients should talk to physicians about potential risks of sexual activity in later life and perhaps be screened for potential cardiovascular problems.
Taking care of each other
While older couples face the same daily stresses that affect people of any age, they may also have the added concerns of age, illness, retirement, and other lifestyle changes, all of which may lead to sexual difficulties, in which case it may be helpful to talk to a therapist.
Physical problems can change your sex life as you get older. But, you and your partner may discover a new closeness in your relationship in the later life. Talk to your partner about your needs. Simple acts of affection, such as hugging, kissing, touching, and spending time together can lead to having better sex life at any age.
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