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Romance After 60

Seniors, when it comes to sex, use it or lose it, says a noted sex educator. 'You should continue to have good sex for the same reason you should continue to get good exercise: It's taking care of yourself,' she says. 'Do it whether you feel like it or no

Restarting Stalled Sexual Energy continued...

 

"If we are not sick and debilitated by whatever is getting to us in our old age, then there is no reason we shouldn't be feeling good about ourselves sexually and think of ourselves as potentially being attractive to others," Blank says. "Self-image is a really important part of it. If my self-image is good,

I can at least think about being attractive. I don't have any difficulty telling a sex partner that I have problems with some things about my body and don't feel comfortable taking all my clothes off."

 

Once self-esteem is better, a person can begin to explore his or her newfound sexuality. Blank and Bortz each recommend masturbation -- for both men and women -- as a good starting point.

Steps to Better Sex for the Older Woman

Not surprisingly, maintaining sexual function is different for men and women.

 

"Men are mostly concerned about erections," Bortz says. "For women, the concern is opportunity."

 

"I was on an airplane sitting next to a 90-year-old woman and she said, 'What do you do' and I told her I was a gerontologist with an interest in impotence," Morley recalls. "She got more and more interested in what I was telling her, and she said, 'Well, you must have a big clinic of men. So the next time you fix one, give him my card.'"

 

Bortz says women over 60 should reject the idea that their sex lives must end if their husbands pass away.

 

"If you don't have a guy, go get one -- don't be embarrassed, or shy, or conform to the idea it is over for you," he says. There is this reigning paradigm that once your man has died it is all over for you. It is a nostalgic, romantic image. But physical touching and romance should be with us until the last twinkle."

 

One of the disincentives for women is painful intercourse due to thinning of vaginal tissues as estrogen levels decline. Hormone replacement therapy used to be used for this purpose. But with more research linking combination estrogen and progestin therapy to heart disease and breast cancer, hormones are now only recommended for the relief of hot flashes.

Both Morley and Blank recommend the use of lubricants for older women. If condoms or sex toys are used, these lubricants should be water-based and not oil-based.

 

Finally, Bortz suggests that woman can actively increase their sex drive -- what psychologists call libido. "There are three or four stages in the sex act," he says. "But first comes desire, which is hormonal. Lots of women have flagging desire, and testosterone works for both women and men in this regard."

Steps to Better Sex for the Older Man

For men as well as for women, sexuality begins with desire.

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