Can Good Sex Keep You Young?.
Does frequent sex contribute to good health?
Sex and Seniors continued...
While men may experience a gradual decline in sexual libido as
their testosterone levels slowly diminish, women experience a wider range of
effects as a result of the more complex hormonal changes that occur with
menopause. Some, like Eileen Smith, 70, a nurse in Laguna Beach, Calif.,
experience no decrease in sexual desire through the years, although she
attributes that to the fact that she began hormone replacement therapy at the
first sign of hot flashes. "In my own case, intensity of desire was not
tied to menopause," she says, "but rather to the quality of the
relationships I was having at different times in my life." The mother of
two and grandmother of four, she said that years after her divorce, when she
was "crazy in love" at age 60, she experienced sexuality "as hot as
Other women may respond to the lower testosterone levels that
sometimes occur after menopause with a decrease in desire. Judith Gerberg, MA,
a career counselor and president of the Career Counselors' Consortium in New
York, found that a hysterectomy 10 years ago left her totally depressed and
disinterested in sex or anything else. Despite treatment with estrogen, her
apathy continued. She did not give up on finding a solution and kept consulting
physicians until she found one who was an early proponent of the use of small
doses of testosterone to restore sexuality in middle-aged women.
When she began taking Estratest, a combination of estrogen and
testosterone, all aspects of her sexual functioning returned. "I was sexy
as ever," she says. "Joy returned. I was energized. I stopped worrying
all the time." In her work as a career counselor, she now advocates that
women suffering similar problems explore hormone therapy with their
Use It or Lose It
For both men and women, the best way to maintain sexuality in
later years is never to stop making love. "The vagina is one organ where
use makes a difference," says Susan Love, MD, in Dr. Susan Love's
Hormone Book. "Sexual exercise -- either masturbating or having sex
with a partner -- will increase your natural lubrication." Men, too, may
find that arousal comes more easily when sexual activity is maintained
regularly, although the normal sexual diminution that comes in their 70s and
beyond may require some adjustment and variation.
My friend Peter Kranz explains his method. "We make love
twice every day, but I don't finish twice a day, just once. We go to bed around
11 p.m. After a few hours sleep, I wake my wife up, and we have intercourse for
20 or 30 minutes. Then we go back to sleep till the alarm goes off in the
morning. We make love again upon awakening, and then I generally do finish