Aging brings with it many changes that can affect your sex life, but believe it or not it is possible to have healthy, fulfilling, satisfying and passionate sex in midlife and beyond. Unfortunately, many menopausal women are not experiencing that passion – the Kinsey Institute reports that in 2010 over half of all women aged 50-59 surveyed had not had intercourse in the last year, and that number is even higher when you include other forms of sexual activity. Among married or partnered couples, approximately one-fifth report having not had sex in the past year.
Some of the problems you may encounter during and after menopause that can significantly affect your physical and emotional ability to get aroused or have sex are vaginal discomfort, mood swings and depression, occasional incontinence, and fatigue. Changes in your appearance and weight might make you feel unattractive to yourself or your partner, and surgeries such as hysterectomy (removal of your uterus) or mastectomy (removal of one or both breasts) can also contribute to sexual difficulties, both due to physical pain and to the emotional impact of these intimate surgeries and the medical conditions that led to them.
Not only that, but if you are in a heterosexual relationship with a man around the same age, he may experience erectile difficulties or prostate problems that can also contribute to difficulties in your sexual relationship, and one or both of you could be taking medications with side effects that can compound these issues.
Phew! While dealing with all this, sex be the last thing you want to think about, but there are so many reasons why you should make rekindling your sex life a priority. Fortunately with a few simple tips you can rekindle the spark and make your sex life as amazing as – if not more than – before!
1. Talk about it – to EVERYONE! Okay, maybe not quite to everyone, but talking about both the issues you are having and the results you want can help get the results you want. Simply talking to your partner about your feelings will allow both of you open up and perhaps solve some of the issues – for example, perhaps you’ve been feeling less attractive, but your partner thinks you’re more beautiful than ever and will show you just that! As well, telling your medical professional about the problems you’re experiencing will allow them to advise you about treatments, medications or supplements that could help (or that could be a cause).
2. Plan ahead. Making sex a priority means planning ahead, especially now. Sex doesn’t have to be spontaneous – scheduling it ahead of time allows both partners to build up the anticipation in advance to make the actual event even more exciting. In fact, experts like Janice Epp, Ph.D., dean of the Institute for Advanced Studies in Human Sexuality in San Francisco, suggest that planning sex and committing to a schedule that works for both of you can get you out of a rut and make sex a valuable and enjoyable part of your relationship again. If you’re dealing with physical difficulties like erectile dysfunction and vaginal dryness, planning ahead will also let you be prepared with the medications, moisturizers, and lubricants that will allow you to have the best possible experience.
3. Take your time. Epp also recommends spending intimate time together, not necessarily having sex, but cuddling, touching, holding, or massaging each other without interruptions. Taking the time to reconnect on an intimate level and find pleasure in one another again can help deepen your emotional and physical bond and lead to a more fulfilling sexual relationship. As well, taking your time while having sexual relations will allow both of you to get fully aroused, leading to more pleasurable sex (especially for women, who take longer than men to both become aroused and to reach orgasm).
4. Try something new. Whether it’s taking up a new hobby together or bringing a new outfit or toy into the bedroom, exploring something together could be just what it takes to bring back the “sizzle” in your sexual relationship.
5. Sweat it out together. Believe it or not, increasing your physical fitness can enhance your sexual relationship, and finding a physical activity (outside of the bedroom) that you can enjoy together can deepen your emotional connection while you do it. Strenuous exercise releases endorphins, which are natural mood-lifting and stress-busting hormones, and increases sex drive in both men and women.
Although it may seem more difficult to have a fulfilling sex life as you age, the National Institute on Aging reports many older couples actually find greater satisfaction in their sex life than when they were younger, with fewer distractions, more time and privacy, and greater intimacy with a lifelong partner. With these tips, you can be one of them!
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