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.