Seniors need to talk about sex more, and not just to doctors
Let’s talk about sex, Let’s get it on, Sexual healing and, more straight to the point- I want your sex.
There are countless songs about sex, some better than others. But there aren’t so many that cover the subject of sex among seniors. For other more striking explanations, it’s no surprise that sexual health isn’t discussed among seniors and their doctors, or society in general.
In the words of ‘80s pop music icon George Michael, “Sex is natural, sex is fun, sex is best when it’s one on one.”
Though you may not ascribe to George Michael’s lyrics, sex is an important part of senior’s mental and physical health that needs to be discussed. Here are some pointers to start talking during Sexual Health Awareness Month this September.
Sex talk can lead to better sex for seniors
The topic of sex might still be a taboo subject for some older generations, but that contradicts the fact there is something happening between the sheets.
A study cited by the American Sexual Health Association reported that while sexual involvement decreases with age, many seniors remain sexually active through their ‘80s. Sometimes sex can be even better than what seniors experienced in their younger years, according to this guide on from a geriatrician.
According to the ASHA, what most gets in the way of sexual activity among those over 50 is not lack of interest, but health issues. This can include erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness and shorter orgasms.
Studies show that healthcare providers aren’t bringing up the topic of sex, and older patients might be embarrassed to broach the subject with a doctor. But for all the reasons listed below, among others, sex is something that needs discussing among any generation.
As you age, you may feel more possessed and confident in your body than ever before, which can do wonders for your sex life. The to-do lists are shorter and you’ve (hopefully) realized that your mental and physical health is paramount.
HelpGuide has a great read on how seniors can approach sex in a healthy, open-minded way that benefits your overall health.
Preventing STD’s among seniors
It may surprise some people to find out that sexually transmitted diseases are on the rise among the elderly, and not just spread among the younger and less responsible generations.
An article from Everyday Health cites a “general lack of understanding” of STD’s among seniors, perhaps since many had monogamous relationships for most of their lives.
“People may not know that they can get infected through oral and anal sex, as well as vaginal intercourse,” the article goes on. And since pregnancy is no longer a concern among post-menapausal women, condom use might not be as prevalent.
The latest statistics from the CDC show that between 2014 and 2018, the number of cases of chlamydia and syphilis each rose over 100 percent, while the cases of gonorrhea rose over 85 percent among seniors. With many of the same risk factors as younger people, those 50 and older represented 1 in 6 new HIV diagnoses in 2018.
The same point is made by almost every sexual health expert: don’t be embarrassed or shy to bring up questions or concerns regarding your sex life. The above number prove why.
A few tips on STD prevention among seniors:
- Practice monogamy or limit the number of sexual partners you have
- Get tested for STD’s before having sex with a new partner
- Use the right condom and lubricant, which helps prevent infection
- Get tested if you think you might have an STD
Talking to your doctor about your sex life and communicating with your partner regularly are important steps to preventing STD’s and maintaining your overall health.
Sex during COVID and senior health
In the words of the New York City health department, “Decisions about sex and sexuality need to be balanced with personal and public health.” This virus isn’t going away anytime soon, and sexual health is an important aspect of human connection.
More vulnerable populations, such as people above the age of 65 need to be especially careful about who they come into close contact with, which makes having sex something to seriously consider.
Here’s what we do know about COVID-19 and sex, according to various state health departments:
- The virus has been found in the feces and semen of some people with the COVID-19
- It’s not known if COVID-19 can be spread through vaginal or anal sex
- Other coronaviruses do not transmit easily through sex, so sex is probably not the way that COVID-19 spreads
“If you do have sex with others, have as few partners as possible and pick partners you trust,” according to ASHA.
The closer the person is to your central orbit, the better. Limit close content- which includes sex- to other people outside your household. Ask your partner if they’ve had any symptoms of COVID-19 in the past two weeks, or if they’ve been diagnosed with COVID-19 recently.
Other considerations from state health departments include:
- Protection is especially important; wear condoms, dental dams etc.
- Skip sex if you or your partner is not feeling well
- Washing up after sex is very important
If you have more questions about having sex during COVID times, check out this fact sheet from the experts.
The benefits to having a caregiver include help setting up telemedicine appointments, which is one way to discuss your sexual health.
As more people embrace aging as a natural process and positive experience, perhaps we’ll start embracing sex as an integral part of getting older.