The sexuality of seniors

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Furthermore, at least one in two men aged 70 and older acknowledges having more than one sexual encounter per week. In an age when individuals experience physical and physiological changes and may face illness and a decrease in desire, how can one maintain a fulfilling sexual life?

An Age of Evolving Sexuality:

"The ability to engage in physical relationships and enjoy them generally continues into old age."

Beyond health, physical condition, hormonal changes, and other age-related factors, sexologists emphasize that the sexuality of seniors has specific characteristics that differ in several ways from that of younger partners.

Contrary to common misconceptions, the difference is not in frequency or performance, and it is entirely possible to have a fulfilling sexual life beyond the golden years. Although it may require some adjustments to habits and adaptation to changes in one's body, there is no age limit for love. The ability to engage in physical relationships and enjoy them generally continues into old age.

The differences lie more in the expectations of partners, the way they prepare for sexual intercourse, and the nature of the act itself. Indeed, sexuality in mature age is often more thoughtful, more sensual than in younger years, less physical, with a longer onset time for sexual response. The refractory period is longer, meaning that desire does not result in an immediate erection, allowing for more sensuality and necessitating active participation from women. Partners seek and hope for more pleasure, and sexual intercourse becomes more intricate and prolonged. There is better communication between partners who learn to understand and adapt to each other's desires, with a mutual desire to give pleasure.

Sexologists, psychologists, and doctors agree that there may be limits to overcome, such as illness, lack of interest, or disabilities, but there are rarely contraindications to love; on the contrary, sexual activity is often beneficial for both mental and physical health, regardless of age. For various reasons, often medical, when sexual activity is no longer possible, other forms of tenderness and physical contact remain essential for the well-being of both partners.

Challenges of Age-Related Sexuality:

Decreased Desire:

In both men and women, a decrease in desire and interest in sexual activity is often observed starting in their forties, related to the natural decline in testosterone levels with age. These are physical and physiological changes that can have a significant impact on mood and sexual behavior, especially if not discussed. It's worth noting that certain medications, such as antihypertensives, some antihistamines, antidepressants, and acid-blocking medications, can also affect desire and sexual performance.

After eliminating any other possible medical causes of decreased desire with one's doctor, it is important to discuss it, attempt to redefine physical relationships, and make certain changes in agreement with one's partner to bring excitement back to the relationship. A decrease in desire should not be a barrier to romantic relationships. It requires a different investment and adaptation to awaken one's own desire and that of the partner.

"78% of women and 58% of men mention alterations in body image and the feeling of no longer being desirable as significant factors in sexual inactivity."

Psychological Factors and Self-Image:

It is important to note that several psychological factors can also affect sexuality, such as stress, anxiety, or the loss of a loved one. In women, more so than in men, there is often a fear of not being attractive, a deterioration of self-image, and a feeling of being less desirable, which directly impacts their sexuality. Indeed, the feeling of being desirable is a major driver of sexuality: 78% of women and 58% of men mention alterations in body image and the feeling of no longer being desirable as significant factors in sexual inactivity. Moreover, especially for someone who has experienced a fulfilling sex life, the cessation of sexual activity can lead to a true nervous depression and a vicious cycle.

From menopause onward, some physical factors such as vaginal dryness and other discomforts can exacerbate this discomfort. It is essential not to hesitate to use lubricants and to discuss these issues with a doctor.

How to Approach Sexuality in the Face of Illness or Disability?

Several illnesses can affect physical capabilities and well-being, mood, and sexual performance itself. While each case must be approached individually, and there is a wide variety of reactions from one person to another, some clarifications can be provided.

"Even in cases of heart surgery or after a stroke, in most cases, one can continue to have an active sex life."

Is Sexual Activity Incompatible with Illness or Certain Cardiovascular Conditions?

Contrary to popular belief, illness or cardiovascular deficiencies do not necessarily mean the end of sexual activity. Even in cases of heart surgery or after a stroke, in most cases, one can continue to have an active sex life. Doctors even tend to recommend it. Some studies have shown that among patients who have had a heart attack, those who were sexually active had a reduced risk of having another one in the future.

It is also crucial to be informed about all factors that can prevent a stroke, such as diet and lifestyle, and the symptoms of a stroke to live serenely and in good physical and mental health.

However, cardiovascular diseases and accidents can present certain difficulties in achieving satisfying sexual intercourse and may require adaptation on the part of both partners. A lack of sensitivity on one side, speech difficulties, difficulties in achieving an erection or ejaculation for some men, and increased vaginal dryness in women are consequences that can occur in the case of cardiovascular problems and can interfere with intimacy. With patience, honest communication, and a willingness to truly open up to each other, along with the many advances in medicine, these difficulties can often be overcome. It is important not to become discouraged and to talk openly with a doctor.

In cases of cardiovascular history or conditions, medical advice should be sought.

"Even if individuals with Alzheimer's disease suffer from visual agnosia, preventing them from identifying faces or objects around them, touch and hearing can help revive certain memories, recognize a loved one, and maintain bonds."

Can You Continue to Have an Active Sex Life with Alzheimer's Disease or Other Types of Dementia?

It is incorrect to assume that people with dementia no longer need physical contact or to be loved. Alzheimer's disease is the most common form of dementia. While it is challenging to make generalizations about the sexuality of people with dementia because each individual will react differently, it is possible to provide some insights. Some people become more demanding and insensitive to the needs of others, while others may occasionally exhibit inappropriate sexual behaviors. Interest in sexuality can also vary from person to person, continuing for some and disappearing completely for others. It is clear that such situations require significant adaptation efforts and a great deal of patience. 

How to Balance a Sexual Life with Painful Conditions Such as Arthritis and Osteoporosis?

These conditions affect many people, sometimes even in their forties. It is evident that a painful body does not facilitate sexual relationships that require a sense of well-being. However, aside from treatments offered by conventional and alternative medicine for these two conditions, it is possible to adapt. Sexologists recommend trying different positions that make you feel more comfortable and placing a cushion under the hips to facilitate movements and reduce discomfort. These diseases can also affect intimacy by decreasing self-esteem and creating stress and performance anxiety.

These psychological consequences can significantly inhibit a person during sexual activity and often manifest in men as difficulties in achieving an erection. To avoid this vicious cycle, it is important to establish a trusting relationship, reassure each other, and build each other up to overcome the psychological factors that can cause erectile dysfunction.

What Is Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction is defined as the frequent or regular inability to obtain or maintain a penile erection sufficient for sexual intercourse. Although these difficulties may be experienced by every man at some point in their sexual life, erectile dysfunction is diagnosed when this inability persists. Doctors estimate that about half of men between the ages of 40 and 70 frequently experience difficulties in obtaining or maintaining an erection. Among men under 40, a small percentage experiences erectile difficulties, but the incidence increases with age.

What Are the Causes, Symptoms, and Possible Treatments for Erectile Dysfunction?

Erectile dysfunction can have numerous causes, including medications, physical factors, and psychological factors.

The most common causes are circulatory disorders since blood flow to the penis is what allows an erection. Conditions such as diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, blood clots, atherosclerosis, and hardening of the arteries can create difficulties in obtaining and maintaining an erection. Certain cancers can also cause erectile dysfunction because they affect nerves or arteries essential for erections. Injuries, traumas, or local surgeries are also possible factors in erectile dysfunction. Alcohol, some drugs like cocaine, and several types of medications, including anxiolytics, certain anticancer drugs, estrogen, beta-adrenergic and ganglionic inhibitors, some antidepressants and analgesics, sedatives, and medications to control high blood pressure, can also affect desire and sexual performance.

As mentioned earlier, psychological factors such as stress, lack of self-confidence, relationship issues related to a troubled partnership, or childhood traumas such as sexual abuse can also play a role.

The diagnosis is established based on a comprehensive interview with the doctor about possible causes, medication use, the onset of problems, and other essential information, complemented by measuring blood pressure and hormone levels. Specific devices and tests, such as nocturnal penile tumescence, can help differentiate between psychological, nerve-related, and circulatory causes.

There are numerous treatments available for erectile dysfunction, including pills, injections, or certain devices to be used immediately before sexual intercourse, as well as surgical options. Each solution should be considered on an individual basis with one's primary care physician. It is important to note that 90% of cases of erectile dysfunction can be treated.

In conclusion, despite the challenges related to aging, the sexuality of seniors remains possible and even recommended. However, it is essential to address the physical and psychological causes that may hinder fulfilling sexuality. Many solutions exist, so don't hesitate to discuss them with your doctor and communicate with your partner.

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