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Ten things you should know about your waning sex life

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In a 2014 survey by the Austin Institute for the Study of Family and Culture, it was found that 12 percent of married people hadn’t had sex for at least three months. Six and a half percent of married women and almost five percent of married men reported that they hadn’t had sex with their spouse in over a year.

A lack of sex in marriage or otherwise committed long-term relationships is something that’s joked about all of the time. In general, though, married couples do have more sex than people who are single or dating.

However, for the not insignificant minority of committed couples who have lost the sexual side of their relationship, it is anything but funny.

It is important to note that regular sex is not an imperative part of life or of some relationships. If you’re both happy with anniversary sex, or never sex, then we’re happy for you.

For those of you that aren’t happy, for those of you who feel stuck, confused, resentful, guilty or scared, we talked to two experts—Amy Bucciere, a certified sex and relationship therapist practicing in Pittsburgh, and Dr. Erika Evans-Weaver, the director of the Center for Human Sexuality Studies’ Sex Therapy Clinic at Widener University—to find out what you should know.

1. Rule out physiological causes.

Both experts agree that it’s important to first rule out medical conditions that could be causing changes in your libido or bodily function.

“Diseases or conditions like diabetes, high blood pressure or cancer—any of those conditions can impact your sex drive,” said Evans-Weaver.

2. Don’t assume that you know how your partner feels.

Simply put, the only way to find the cause of the problem is to look for the cause of the problem. We all have a tendency to assume that the way our partners are acting is directly related to how they feel about us. In many cases, this isn’t the truth.

Bucciere says that’s why it’s important to stay curious about what’s causing the sexual problems in your relationship, instead of coming to a conclusion on your own.

“[Ask yourself] is this actually true or is this something that I’m assuming? What is genuinely going on here? And it can be a lot of work to get an accurate answer to that question,” Bucciere said.

3. Remember that things are always in flux.

As your life circumstances change, so will the circumstances of your relationship. One of the hardest times is what Evans-Weaver refers to as the “sandwich generation,” which is when a couple is caring for both their young children and their aging parents.

“You’re exhausted, so you might want to be sexual, but at the same time you might say ‘I’d like to just cuddle up and take a nap,’” she explained. “And that’s real and fair.”

You may think that the root of your problem is that your partner has a different sex drive than you, and you could be right. But, that’s a reality in most relationships and it, too, can change over time.

“What are the chances that two people are going to be 95 percent in the same place when it comes to desire and arousal and availability to be intimate?” Bucciere said. “So it’s kind of a given that somebody is going to be higher and somebody is going to be lower, and you may go through different seasons…It’s not a stable position.”  

4. Be mindful of the story you tell yourself.

“The most important thing is that if my goal is to assign blame and to alleviate myself of doing the hard things then what happens is nothing changes,” Bucciere said.

Believing that you are right and your partner is wrong is easy and convenient, and it doesn’t get you any closer to a solution.

“It’s in our ability to make a conscious, painful decision to say, ‘I wonder what’s really happening here because if the story I’m telling myself is somehow a reductionist story about my goodness and your badness’ or something like that, then that’s the story I’m going to end up with,” Bucciere continued.

5. Talk to your partner, not everybody else.

To get more familiar with this issue, I dove into some online forums for people in sexless relationships. What I found was a lot of people commissorating about their problems, while encouraging a lot of vitriolic behavior.

“Everybody wants to let off some steam, but you’ve got to let it off with the person that’s driving you batty, not everybody else,” said Evans-Weaver.

“The folks that you are commiserating with validate you, so you feel right, and by the time you get ready to actually have the interaction with your partner, it’s still [the same] issue but not necessarily one that you have the same motivations to confront because you already felt this validation,” she continued.

So whether they’re your friends, or strangers on the internet, it’s often best to avoid airing out your grievances with people who aren’t your partner. Consider going to your partner first.

6. Don’t lose sight of the ‘us’ in your relationship.

A lot of people end up sitting with and dissecting this problem for a while, and in that time the frustration, desperation and resentment have been piling up. It’s easy to lose sight of the point of it all.

“What happens is you end up neglecting what I have come to refer to as the ‘physics of the relationship’ and you’ve become solely focused on ‘me’ and ‘you,’ and I’m neglecting the ‘us’ that exists between us and it’s in that misfocus that we end up trekking down a long and painful road,” Bucciere cautioned.

7. It’s not all about intercourse.

Evans-Weaver said that sometimes the problem can be due to boredom because the societally-driven focus on penetrative sex isn’t satisfying to one or both partners.

“[People] get stuck in these really basic sexual scripts that are no longer pleasurable for them, but they don’t know how to communicate about creating something different that is fun and invigorating to them,” she said.  

“We have to expand our perspective on what it means to be sexual with our partners because it can be anything from a sensual massage to mutual masturbation. Or it can be oral sex. It could be just touching. And it could be penetrative intercourse, but doesn’t have to be.”

And it isn’t all about orgasm, either. Making sex too goal-orientated can kill sex drive. According to Evans-Weaver, the focus should be pleasure and fun.

8. Affection and connection.

Sometimes you need to create the space for sex in your relationship though affection and re-establishing a connection.

“I remember working with folks and saying, ‘alright, what’s going on here is that one of you just wants more expression of affection and one of you actually wants to be more sexual with one another. Two different things, but the more that you express affection it’s going to also titillate your partner which might increase their desire to be sexual,’Evans-Weaver said.  

Bucciere emphasizes that feeling truly connected to your partner can change your whole approach to the issue for the better.

“It’s this idea that if we’re really feeling connected and the space between us feels safe and warm and open and loving, from there we’ll be able to figure it out,” she said.

9. Relationships take work. And they can work, if you do.

Start from a place of understanding that lasting relationships don’t happen because there’s no conflict or messiness, they last because both partners have decided that they’re going to work through the bumps.

“If people are genuinely looking to one another to say ‘I want this to get better,’ the implications of that are life-giving and tremendously healing and just a shit ton of work,” Bucciere said.

If you can develop a healthy method that you use to handle problems in your relationship, that’s a tool you’ll be able to come back to again and again.

“I genuinely, 100 percent believe that when two people are truly committed to making a process work, that it will,” Bucciere said. “If we can have our process down about how we work on this stuff, then we’re ultimately going to be able to handle whatever comes down the pike.”

10. Get help if you need it.  

This is a complicated problem. There are professionals out there, like Bucciere and Evans-Weaver, who can help. Whether you need a mediator, an idea-generator or a fresh set of eyes to look at your situation, therapists are trained to assist you.

“My approach is: listen, nobody has all the answers, right? I don’t have all the answers to fixing the problems in my own life. So my role is not to tell you, ‘well, you’ve been doing this wrong all your life,’” Evans-Weaver said.

“It’s really just to ask insightful questions that provide you with an unbiased opportunity to examine what it is that you want to do and how do you want to get there.”

Complete Article HERE!

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For elders and others, drugs are available that aid sexual experience.

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But insurers and Medicare won’t pay for them.

A tablet of Pfizer’s Viagra, left, and the company’s generic version, sildenafil citrate.

By Michelle Andrews

For some older people, the joy of sex may be tempered by financial concerns: Can they afford the medications they need to improve their experience in bed?

Medicare and many private insurers don’t cover drugs that are prescribed to treat problems people have engaging in sex. Recent developments, including the approval of generic versions of popular drugs Viagra and Cialis, have helped consumers afford the treatments. Still, for many people, paying for pricey medications may be their only option.

At 68, like many postmenopausal women, Kris Wieland, of Plano, Tex., experiences vaginal dryness that can make intercourse painful. Her symptoms are amplified by Sjogren’s syndrome, an immune system disorder that typically causes dry eyes and mouth, and can affect other tissues.

Before Wieland became eligible for Medicare, her gynecologist prescribed Vagifem, a suppository that replenishes vaginal estrogen, a hormone that declines during menopause. That enabled her to have sex without pain. Her husband’s employer plan covered the medication, and her co-payment was about $100 every other month.

After she enrolled in Medicare, however, her Part D plan denied coverage for the drug.

“I find it very discriminatory that they will not pay for any medication that will enable you to have sexual activity,” Wieland said. She plans to appeal.

Under the law, drugs used to treat erectile or sexual dysfunction are excluded from Part D coverage unless they are used as part of a treatment approved by the Food and Drug Administration for a different condition. Private insurers often take a similar approach, reasoning that drugs to treat sexual dysfunction are lifestyle-related rather than medically necessary, said Brian Marcotte, chief executive of the National Business Group on Health, which represents large employers.

So, for example, Medicare may pay if someone is prescribed sildenafil, the generic name for Viagra and another branded drug called Revatio, to treat pulmonary arterial hypertension, a type of high blood pressure in the lungs. But it typically won’t cover the same drug if prescribed for erectile dysfunction.

Women such as Wieland may encounter a similar problem. A variety of creams, suppositories and hormonal rings increase vaginal estrogen after menopause so that women can have intercourse without pain. But drugs that are prescribed to address that problem haven’t generally been covered by Medicare.

Sexual-medicine experts say such exclusions are unreasonable.

“Sexual dysfunction is not just a lifestyle issue,” said Sheryl Kingsberg, a clinical psychologist who is the chief of behavioral medicine at University Hospitals MacDonald Women’s Hospital in Cleveland. She is the immediate past president of the North American Menopause Society (NAMS), an organization for professionals who treat women with these problems. “For women, this is about postmenopausal symptoms.”

Relief may be in sight for some women.

Last spring, the federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services sent guidance to Part D plans that they could cover drugs to treat moderate to severe “dyspareunia,” or painful intercourse, caused by menopause. Plans aren’t required to offer this coverage, but they may do so, according to CMS officials.

The NAMS applauded the change.

“Dyspareunia is a medical symptom associated with the loss of estrogen,” Kingsberg said. “They had associated it with sexual dysfunction, but it’s a menopause-related issue.”

For men who suffer from erectile dysfunction, treatment can confer both physical and emotional benefits, sexual health experts said.

“In my clinical work, I see a lot of older couples,” said Sandra Lindholm, a clinical psychologist and sex therapist who is also a nurse practitioner in Walnut Creek, Calif. “They are very interested in sex, and they feel like they’re able to embrace their erotic lives. But there may be medical issues that need to be addressed.”

About 40 percent of men over age 40 have difficulty getting or maintaining an erection, studies show, and the problem increases with age. A similar percentage of postmenopausal women experience genitourinary syndrome of menopause, a term used to describe a host of symptoms related to declining levels of estrogen, including vaginal dryness, itching, soreness and pain during intercourse, as well as increased risk of urinary tract infections.

Low sexual desire is another common complaint among women and men. A drug called Addyi was approved in 2015 to treat low sexual desire disorder in premenopausal women. But many insurers don’t cover it.

Unfortunately, medications that treat these conditions may cost people hundreds of dollars a month if their insurance doesn’t pick up any of the tab. A 10-tablet prescription for Viagra in a typical 50-milligram dose may cost more than $600, for example, while the price of eight Vagifem tablets may exceed $200, according to GoodRx, a website that publishes current drug prices and discounts.

In recent years, much more affordable generic versions of some of these medications have gone on the market.

Generic versions of Viagra and Cialis, another popular erectile dysfunction drug, may be available for just a few dollars a pill.

“I never write a prescription for Viagra anymore,” said Elizabeth Kavaler, a urogynecologist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City. “These generics are inexpensive solutions for men.”

There are generic versions of some women’s products as well, including yuvafem vaginal inserts and estradiol vaginal cream.

But even those generic options are often relatively pricey.

Some patients cannot afford $100 for a tube of generic estradiol vaginal cream, said Mary Jane Minkin, a clinical professor of obstetrics, gynecology and reproductive medicine at Yale School of Medicine.

“I’ve asked, ‘Did you try any of the creams?’ And they say they used up the sample I gave them. But they didn’t buy the prescription because it was too expensive,” she said.

— Kaiser Health News

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More Sex Can Improve Later Years

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Study shows life enjoyment is linked to intercourse for men, kissing and connection for women.

Physical contact and sexual activity may be key to contentment.

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According to research published online on December 13, 2018, in the journal Sexual Medicine, frequent sexual activity can mean a more enjoyable life for older adults. Both men and women who reported any type of sexual activity in the previous year indicated greater happiness than people who did not. Feeling emotionally close to one’s partner during sex was also correlated with a more positive perspective for both genders.

These results are not surprising, says Pelin Batur, MD, associate professor of medicine in obstetrics and gynecology for the Women’s Health Institute at the Cleveland Clinic in Ohio, who was not involved in the research. “We know connection and intimacy are important for people throughout all stages of life,” says Dr. Batur. “It is important to remember that people who are healthier are more likely to engage in sexual activity. Therefore, it may be the better state of health which contributes the most to the increased life satisfaction, as opposed to just the sexual activity itself,” she says.

Searching for a Link Between Well-Being and Sexual Trouble

The study set out to investigate possible associations between sexual activity, problems, and concerns, and how those factors might influence well-being in older adults. Researchers looked at 3,045 men and 3,834 women living in England whose ages ranged from 50 to 89, with an average age of 64 for men and 65 for women. 74 percent of the men and 60 percent of the women were married or living with a partner, and 95 percent of the study participants were Caucasian.

Frequent Kissing, Contact, Key for Women’s Well-Being

After allowing for sociodemographic and health-related issues, researchers found that among sexually active men, frequent intercourse as well as frequent kissing, petting, or fondling were associated with greater enjoyment of life. For women, frequent kissing, petting, or fondling was linked to greater life enjoyment, but frequent intercourse was not. Frequent masturbation wasn’t associated with greater life enjoyment for either sex. “Frequent” was defined as two or more episodes a month.

Measuring People’s Enjoyment of Life

Enjoyment of life was assessed with the pleasure subscale of the CASP-19 (control, autonomy, self-realization, and peasure), which has been used in previous research to measure happiness and contentment for older adults. Subjects were asked how much they resonate with statements such as “I enjoy the things that I do,” “I enjoy being in the company of others,” and “I feel full of energy these days.”

Is Sexual Intercourse More Important for Men’s Well-Being Than for Women’s?

“The most interesting finding for us was that among sexually active men, frequent intercourse or kissing, petting, or fondling were associated with greater enjoyment of life,” says Lee Smith, PhD, an epidemiologist with expertise in physical activity and exercise medicine at Anglia Ruskin University in Cambridge, England, and a coauthor of the study. “However, among sexually active women frequent kissing petting or fondling were associated with greater enjoyment of life, but not intercourse,” says Smith. “It therefore appears that sexual intercourse may be more important for men than for women in terms of promoting well-being, whereas women’s enjoyment is more closely linked to other sexual activities.”

Insights Into Future Treatment for Age-Related Sexual Problems

These results could help improve the way that women’s sexual health drugs are developed and measured, says Batur. “In the past, these medications were judged based on how much increased sexual activity resulted from the use of these medications. If there were only one to two additional sexual acts over the course of the month, these medications were considered a failure,” she says.

Considering Desire, Satisfaction, and Future Treatments for Sexual Dysfunction

Studies like this highlight that it is not simply having sex that contributes to fulfillment, says Batur. “Moving forward, medications should look at sexual desire, satisfaction, pain, and other domains of sexuality that are important to women when judging whether potential new medications are helpful. Subjective quality of life benefits for women are probably more important than how often sexual activity occurs after initiation of medication,” says Batur.

The study found that sexual issues, such as difficulty having and maintaining an erection or achieving orgasm, were associated with less life satisfaction. Concerns about lack of desire and frequency of sex also had a negative connection with life enjoyment.

“Health professionals should acknowledge that older adults are not asexual and that a frequent and problem-free sex life in this population is related to better well-being,” said Dr. Smith in a statement. “However, encouragement to try new positions and explore different types of sexual activities is not regularly given to aging populations,” he added.

Making generalizations about either sex is hard to do from the survey results, says Batur. “What we do know is that sexuality is different for each individual and can vary throughout the lifetime for the better or worse, depending on circumstances,” she says. “Each person that we see in the office has their own story of what they are looking for in life and what makes them happy. One key point, on which we can all agree, is that the healthier a person is, the more they are likely to look for fulfilling relationships, including sexual ones,” says Batur.

Promoting overall wellness in later life is a public health priority, said Sarah Jackson, PhD, a senior research associate at the Institute of Epidemiology and Health at University College London in England, and coauthor of the study. “We know that psychological well-being is intricately linked with physical health, and as the population continues to age, the burden on health services increases,” she said in a statement. Encouraging and supporting people to continue to enjoy a healthy sex life in old age could have benefits both for the individual’s health and for the sustainability of health services, said Dr. Jackson.

Complete Article HERE!

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Think teens need the sex talk?

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Older adults may need it even more!

By &

Humans are sexual beings. This urge does not stop when the clock strikes 60. Or even 90.

Young adults may deny older relatives are having sex, but sexual activity is a strong indicator of healthy aging and vitality. In fact, sexual activity is roughly equal to climbing two flights of stairs.

Sex education and research use a medical model of sexual health focusing mainly on pregnancy, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), and sexual dysfunctions. However, sexuality is complex. Beyond genitals and Kama Sutra-like positions, it considers sexual and gender identity; sensuality; sexual response; intimacy; and positive and negative ways we use our sexuality.

Our research has explored sexuality among older adults experiencing healthy aging and also aging with health challenges. We found that older adults who routinely talk with health care providers about sexual matters are more likely to be sexually active, despite sexual dysfunctions or other health issues. These conversations become more important considering high HIV/AIDS and STI rates, even among older adults in the U.S.

Sexuality is complex

As we age, the complex interplay among biological, psychological, cognitive, socioeconomic, religious and even societal factors, contribute to changes in our roles and responsibilities. For example, changes in physical or cognitive health over time can create differences in analytical thinking, mobility, and health care needs. We also experience changes in work, social and family roles and responsibilities over time. Examples include transitions from working to retirement, parenting to empty-nesting, child-rearing to caring for aging parents or partners.

These changes may alter our sexual desires, expression and the frequency in which we engage in sexual activities with partners. For example, sexual functioning and activity may decrease over time, but having open communication with a partner who is responsive to our needs can increase our feelings of intimacy and desire, and in turn stimulate sexual activity.

Evolving social support and activities may change opportunities for sex and intimacy. Partners may disappear through death or moving away, or appear, such as when meeting new people after moving to an aging community. Over one-third of adults over age 65 use social media or internet technologies. These tools may expand sexual interest or activities by increasing access to sexual aids and partners.

Sex after 60

There are myths, misconceptions and stigma associated with aging and sexuality that hinder older adults’ ability to openly communicate with family, friends and health care professionals. This misinformation limits their access to sexual education, health care, and ultimately, their sexual rights.

The first myth is that older adults are not as sexually attractive or desirable as their younger counterparts. While an 80-year-old may not be as appealing to an 18-year-old, he or she may be very desirable to peers. More importantly, he or she may feel more sexually desirable and confident than their younger self.

A second myth is that older adults lack interest in and desire for sexual activity – and that they are somehow asexual. Research from ongoing national surveys support the ideas that sexual interest, desires and behaviors can decrease over the life course. For example, among women ages 57 years and older, over 80 percent of participants expressed interest in having sex, but less than two-thirds of women surveyed perceived sex as “important,” and fewer than half reported having sex in the previous year. However, the reality is that these trends are not universal among older adults. Results from another recent survey found that 39 percent of men and 17 percent of women ages 75 to 85 years are sexually active.

Another myth is that older adults are so medically fragile that sexual activity is dangerous. This is simply not true in many cases. Recent studies have shown that healthy older adults are more likely to have sex. Even when chronic illnesses are present, sexual abstinence is not a foregone conclusion. For example, a 2012 American Heart Association statement contains evidence-based recommendations about sexual activity among patients with specific cardiovascular conditions. The recommendations generally advise assessing risks with a doctor and disease management, rather than abstention.

There are well-documented relationships between common medical conditions such as heart disease or diabetes and treatment-related effects on sexual functioning. Yet, older adults and their health care providers are not discussing sexual concerns during routine care. Missed opportunities during visits deprive older adults of access to newer treatments and other best practices in sexual medicine, which can impact their mental and physical health.

A bigger problem may be ageist attitudes among providers and internalized ageism in their patients that may interfere with sex education and application of newer standards. The result is that many believe older adults are uninterested in, or lack desire for, sexual activity and cannot engage in these activities.

Love has a lot to do with it

There is more to sexuality than physical acts. While much of the existing research focuses on sexual activity and intercourse as predictors or outcomes, most older adults also desire companionship, intimacy and closeness. Non-intercourse-focused activities, such as hand-holding, cuddling and massage, have not been studied as much as intercourse. Yet, there is reason to believe that they can enhance intimacy. Research about physical and mental health outcomes resulting from older adult sexual activity reveals additional benefits, including reduced cognitive decline, loneliness and depression, and improved reported health status, physical functioning, and other aspects of quality of life.

Recent studies also reveal that sexually active older adults are more likely to communicate needs and concerns with health care providers and have them addressed. Providing high-quality sexual health care requires providers to take comprehensive sexual health histories from older patients and engage in direct, positive communication concerning gender and sexual identity, and sexual knowledge, beliefs and practices.

Discussions should promote understanding about sexual risk behaviors for STIs and effects of physical and cognitive or psychological aging on sexual health and sexuality. To maintain or improve older adults’ sexual health and well-being, health care providers should provide safe and welcoming environments for patient-provider collaboration, resources and interdisciplinary referrals to clinical social workers, sex therapists, physical therapists and other allied health specialties.

Complete Article HERE!

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Sex guide for care home residents and nurses issued

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– including advice on sex toys and porn

– including advice on sex toys and porn

By Marie Claire Dorking

A sex guide advising nurses how to help senior and elder patients watch porn and use sex toys has been given out to care homes.

The leaflet circulated by the Royal College of Nursing also covers the topics of masturbation and extra-marital affairs.

The new guidance was  produced to help nurses and care staff advise on the “taboo subject” of the sex lives of the older generation.

The brochure, called Older People in Care Homes: Sex, Sexuality and Intimate Relationships, has been developed to help nursing staff “work effectively with issues of sexuality, intimate relationships, sexual expression and sex” with people living in homes in “a professional, sensitive, legal and practical way”.

“Fundamentally, people who move to live in a care home should be able to have the same rights, choices and responsibilities they enjoyed at home provided that these do not impinge upon the rights of others in the home,” the 44-page guide states.

“Care home staff should strive to achieve a balance between an individual’s right to privacy and control with the need for care and observation, for example, residents remaining in bedrooms undisturbed or with locked doors and staff waiting to be invited before entering,” it continues.

The guide states that: “sexuality remains a fundamental aspect of being human throughout life. It encompasses gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, intimacy, sexual expression and sexual acts.

It goes on to say that sexuality also influences “identity, self-image, self-concept and self-worth. It also affects mental health, physical health, social relationships and quality of life.”

The leaflet sites case study examples of real patients and the problems they have encountered when it comes to sexual activity within their care home including an OAP who was refused help with masturbation because staff “felt ill-equipped to deal skilfully” with the request.

Another case study explained how a resident had ask to watch porn in his bedroom. The guide noted that patient “should be supported” in accessing “the entertainment” he desired.

Commenting on the guide, RCN spokeswoman Dawne Garrett told the Daily Express: “Just because people live in a care home doesn’t mean they lose the same rights, choices and responsibilities they once enjoyed in their home.”

The fact is that people’s sex lives don’t suddenly come to an end when they reach the age of 70, or even 80. <

And actually research suggests many of the older generation are likely enjoying more sex than their younger counterparts.

A 2009 study, National Social Life, Health and Ageing Project (NSHAP), conducted by a team of researchers at the University of Chicago, found that almost three quarters (74%) of women aged 75 to 85 believed satisfactory sex was essential to maintaining a relationship, while 72% of men felt the same.

The same study found that over a third of men (38%) and almost a fifth (17%) of women within this age bracket were sexually active. And why the hell not?

Turns out getting jiggy can have health benefits for the older generation too in terms of giving their brain a boost.

Researchers from Coventry and Oxford University in the UK have found a link between frequent sexual activity and improved brain function in older adults.

The study, published in in The Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences, involved quizzing 73 people aged 50-83 on how often, on average, they’d had sex over the past 12 months. Participants also answered questions about their general health and lifestyle.

The 28 men and 45 women also took part in a standardised test, which is typically used to measure different patterns of brain function in older adults, focussing on attention, memory, fluency, language and visuospatial ability.

Complete Article HERE!

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Puberty for the Middle-Aged

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Forty-five-year-old women need a version of “the talk,” because our bodies are changing in ways that are both really weird and really uncomfortable.

By Lisa Selin Davis

If only, on your 45th birthday, a doctor would sit you down, look you squarely in the eyes and say, “Here’s what’s going to happen: Eventually, your pubic hair is going to thin out everywhere but on the bikini line, exactly the opposite of what you’ve always wanted. The fat on your body will redistribute so that each of your thighs is the shape of Grimace, the McDonald’s blob monster. You will develop those wings of loose skin below your arms. You just will, no matter what you do. Also: Everything about your periods will change. They may become shorter, more frequent, more painful. And they’ll just get weirder until they desist.”

If only, in other words, someone told you, “You need to really prepare, emotionally and physically, for middle age.”

But of course, no one does.

We put a lot of time and effort into preparing teenagers for what changes puberty will wreak, but for women, midlife brings another kind of puberty — perimenopause, a road that we in our 40s navigate blind, without enough information from our doctors or often other women, wondering in silent shame at the intensity and seeming endlessness of the changes.

What is perimenopause, you might be asking? For one thing, it’s a term so underused that Microsoft’s word-processing program is telling me it’s not a word, a term that was new to many when Gwyneth Paltrow uttered it last month in a Goop video. “Peri” is Greek for “near,” and menopause is the ceasing of menstruation. So perimenopause is all the crazy stuff that happens on the way to that cessation.

We need to have The Talk, but for 45-year-olds. Doctors should speak to their patients about the changes that could lie ahead and how to prepare for them. And we perimenopausal women need to talk to one another, and the rest of the world, about what’s happening. Because a lot of it, to me, is really weird, really surprising and really hard to sit comfortably through, from the stray chin hair — O.K., hairs — to the decreasing bone density. Some 40 percent of women have interrupted sleep during perimenopause. Between 10 percent and 20 percent have mood swings. Some have uterine bleeding or vaginal dryness and even that hallmark of actual menopause, hot flashes.

My desire to know the full story goes beyond my health: How am I going to make jokes about these symptoms if I don’t know what they are? (I will always fondly recall Joan Rivers joking about the surprising number of things that sag as you age, starting with your genitals

Recently I asked friends on Facebook what no one had told them about middle age. No post of mine has ever garnered so many responses, so equally divided between sad and funny. Or both.

There are the physical issues — the random acne, the skin tags, the cough that causes a little bit of pee, the long recovery time from minor injuries and how easy it is to get those injuries. “Doing something really banal like reaching for the remote can put my back out and leave me wailing like a child for a day,” one friend wrote.

And then there are the emotional issues: How will I feel differently about myself as my hormonal profile shifts, as I lose estrogen in the years just before my young children surge with it?

The Talk doesn’t have to be all bad. Among the things my Facebook friends noted was that they felt better and stronger than they did in their 20s and 30s, and that they had become much less vain. One friend wrote, “I prioritize the things that are important to me and people I care about.”

She has arrived at the still-mythical (to me) moment when people stop caring so much what others think, the beginning of the upswing of the U-shaped happiness curve, which shows that people get happier as they grow old (often the 40s are the curve’s nadir). Older people are the bearers of wisdom earned by their years, or by the sheer fatigue that has overtaken them, forcing them to pick their battles more carefully. Along with those chin hairs, solace may come.

So your doctor might also say, “You will most likely find that you no longer sweat the small stuff (except at night, when you will sweat uncontrollably), that you care less about the approval of others and feel less attached to an iteration of your life that you haven’t achieved. And invisibility is a superpower that can be used to your advantage.”

If your doctor won’t go there, you can take it from me.

Complete Article HERE!

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Talking sexual health with older patients

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Dr Sue Malta and her research team want to promote more positive social perceptions of older people’s sexuality, in general practice and beyond.

By Amanda Lyons

It is no secret that Australia’s population is ageing.

But that doesn’t mean older Australians are leaving the pleasures of the bedroom behind – and nor should they, argues Dr Sue Malta.

‘Having a healthy sex life when you’re older, even when you do have disability and disease, is actually really good for your health and wellbeing, and also your overall cognition and cognitive function,’ the Melbourne School of Population and Global Health research fellow told newsGP.

‘So there’s lots of reasons for people to remain sexually active in later life, and for GPs to encourage them to be so, if that’s what the older patient wants.’

Our culture contains many deeply embedded stereotypes about older people, and one of the strongest is that they are asexual. But, as shown by Sex, Age & Me, a national study conducted on the sexual and romantic relationships of over 2000 Australians aged 60 and older, this is very far from the case: almost three-quarters (72%) of respondents reported having engaged in a variety of sexual practices in the preceding year, ranging from penetrative intercourse to mutual masturbation.

Despite this kind of eye-opening data, stereotypes about older people’s sexuality – or lack of – persist, even among older people themselves and the health professionals who treat them.

The Sexual Health and Ageing, Perspective and Education (SHAPE) project, for which Dr Malta is a researcher and project coordinator, also revealed these stereotypes could cause significant barriers in discussion of sexual health between GPs and older patients.

‘GPs don’t want to initiate these conversations, they want them to be patient-led,’ Dr Malta said.
‘But older patients won’t talk to GPs because they are embarrassed, and for reasons that go back to an historical lack of sex education when they grew up: the context and eras these patients were born into, they just didn’t talk about sex.

‘So it leads to this Catch-22 situation.’

The SHAPE team wanted to further investigate the reluctance of GPs to raise sexual health issues with older patients, so they conducted semi-structured interviews with 15 GPs and six practice nurses throughout Victoria. The resulting paper, ‘Do you talk to your older patients about sexual health?’ was published in the most recent edition of The Australian journal of general practice (AJGP).

Dr Malta explained that semi-structured interviews allowed the researchers to access richer and more detailed information from their GP respondents.

‘It’s very easy to say ‘“yes, no” in a survey. We don’t really find out people’s underlying or unconscious views and attitudes,’ she said.

Researchers ultimately found many of the GPs feel uncomfortable broaching the subject of sexuality with older patients, and some found it difficult to reconcile sexuality with ageing.

As one GP said, ‘It’s a bit like you don’t really want to know your mum and dad have sex, you know? Because that’s just gross’.

However, as Australia’s ageing population grows, and divorce, online dating and sexually transmissible infections (STIs) become more common among older people, neglecting issues of sexual health can lead to harms.

There’s a whole issue around [the fact that] they’re not practising safer sex, so the STI rates are going up,’ Dr Malta said. ‘It has gone up 50% in five years, but from a low base.

‘But if we continue in this vein, with more and more single older adults coming into the population, this could potentially be more of an issue in the future.’

Furthermore, if GPs and other health professionals are unaware that they should be looking out for sexual health issues in older patients, they may miss important signs.

‘A lot of the symptomology [of STIs] actually mimic diseases of ageing,’ Dr Malta said. ‘So if there is a stereotype of the asexual older person in the GP’s mind, and an [older patient] has a symptom that might or might not be an STI, which side do you think the GP is going to err on? Not the possible STI.’

A vivid anecdote that Dr Malta encountered during her teaching work is a telling illustration of the importance of not making assumptions.

‘One of the registrars at a presentation I gave had a consultation with an older man, a gentleman on a walking frame, who was 90 or so, and presented with what looked like an STI,’ she said.

‘The consultant the registrar was working under said, “No, it wouldn’t be an STI, just look at him, he’s past it. That’s ridiculous.” But the registrar decided she would ask him.

‘So she asked and he said, “Yes, actually, it could be an STI. I went to see a prostitute last week and it was the best thing I’ve done in ages”.

‘So the registrar then had the opportunity to have that discussion about safer sex and give him some treatment.’

Many of the GPs interviewed for Dr Malta’s paper felt they would appreciate interventions designed to help facilitate discussions about sexual health during consultations with older patients.

Dr Malta agrees this would be helpful, but believes it would also be useful to start earlier, with better information about ageing and sexuality provided during general practice (and other medical) training.

‘In training, you learn about ageing, but in the context of disease and dysfunction,’ she said.

‘So the only thing about sex and ageing you might learn is about erectile dysfunction, how beta blockers affect your ability, vaginal dryness, menopause, prolapse. You don’t actually learn about positive sexuality in later life.’

Dr Malta has found that most older patients would like sexual health screening to become a normalised part of routine care in general practice. She also believes it is necessary to make changes in overall health policy to make it more inclusive.

‘There is no sexual health policy targeting older adults,’ she said. ‘They get lumped into general sexual and reproductive health policy, and the only mention that’s made of them is about menopause and the like.

‘There should be a specific sexual health policy for older adults because the issue is more involved than we think.’

Complete Article HERE!

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For the Best Sex of Your Life—Ask Old People

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Not only is senior sex better than younger sex, reveals sex expert Joan Price, but millennials could actually master a more fulfilling iteration of lovemaking from their elders—one that’s based on extended arousal and less pressure to perform.

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Most of us are scared to get old, anxious that silver hair, crinkly eyes and the looming possibility of needing a walker signal the end of life as we know it. More secretively, many of us fear that the outward signs and symptoms of a life long-lived make us less desirable—not just as people, but as partners.

Not surprisingly, one of the most common anxieties people of all ages harbor about growing older is the death of their sex lives.

“I genuinely fear the day I’m old and wrinkled and my boobs are saggy,” Sophie, a newly married 30-year-old fashion executive, tells me. “I wonder, ‘Will my husband and I still find each other attractive? What is sex going to be like for us after 40 years together when I used to be hot and now I’m 70

The answer to that question will vary depending on who you ask, but pose it to Joan Price and she’ll give you one you might not expect.

“At 70?” she laughs. “Sex can be amazing. Expiration dates are for milk, not for pleasure.”

At 74, Joan is the nation’s leading and most outspoken expert on senior sex. A prolific public speaker and the author of three critically acclaimed books, a bevy of free webinars and a popular blog on the subject, Joan traverses the globe, spreading the good word that for people over 50, sex can be not only just as good as it was during a person’s fertile, more flexible years, but better.

“With the right education and sense of humor, the so-called limitations of sexuality in your golden years can actually be reframed as benefits,” Joan argues from her sunny home in Sebastopol, California. “Later-life sex can mean more intimacy, more time spent giving and receiving arousal and pleasure, and a delicious expansion of what people thought they were capable of in bed.”

Truth be told, much research has found sex gets better with age. As the years add up, people become more comfortable in their bodies and are often more adventurous when it comes to trying new things. And while sex in a person’s later years is more often defined by quality rather than quantity, rates of sex amongst the elderly are nearly indistinguishable from those of younger generations: nearly 75 percent of people between the ages of 57-64, and a quarter of those aged 75-85, are still getting it on roughly three times per month, which is only slightly less than those aged 30-49.

Joan is also happy to report that seniors are doing a lot more exciting things with their time than chastely knitting in the warm glow of The Price is Right—they’re watching porn, having kinky sex, dating online, using sex toys and happily engaging in consensual non-monogamy. Perhaps it’s not surprising, then, that a recent survey by Match.com found that age 66 (not 26) is the age at which women report having the most pleasurable sex. For men, it’s 64.

This would have been valuable information for Joan to know when she experienced the best sex of her life at 57 with the 64-year-old man who’d eventually become her husband (the late and great Robert). It might have reassured them both that the “glorious” sex they were having wasn’t actually that uncommon for people their age. It might have confirmed her suspicion that, despite the messages mainstream media beats into all of us, a few gray hairs and a few less hormones aren’t actually obstacles to a long life of great, post-retirement sex.

At the very least, it would have been nice to have a resource that could explain the unlikely passion she was experiencing because she and Robert were having mind-blowing passionate sex during a period in their lives where they were supposed to focus on getting their hips replaced. She wanted help understanding why, after a menopause-induced dry spell that left her thinking her sex life was caput, she and her new lover were suddenly more sexually voracious than they’d ever been.

But that sort of information didn’t exist 14 years ago. In fact, hardly anyone even dared to broach the topic of old-age sex. Apart from the odd book that did little more than admit old people were sexually active, there weren’t many examples that Joan could find in literature, TV, film or research that portrayed old-age sex as healthy or normal—let alone hot. The long-lived stereotype of an old-married couple passing their sexual prime and living out their remaining years as platonic companions prevailed, and without role models or media representation willing to prove it wrong, it had run rampant.

“People didn’t want to hear about this stuff back then,” Joan remembers. “Publishing companies wouldn’t publish books about old-age sex. People wouldn’t hire speakers who wanted to talk about it. There was very little information.”

It was actually Robert who suggested that, since there was such little information in the arena of elderly sex, she should fill it herself. Why not write a book of her own that not just documented, but actually celebrated, senior sex? At age 61, she released her first book on senior lovemaking, Better Than I Ever Expected, a straight-talking ode to old age that detailed the passion she and Robert shared, chronicling in no uncertain terms the delights and challenges of sex after 60. The book attracted so much attention that she started a blog by the same name, which quickly became one of the only places on the internet where seniors could go for sex education that catered specifically to their needs.

No topic is too racy for Joan—she flits from masturbation to sex toys to non-monogamy with a fearless directness refreshingly uncharacteristic of someone with her mileage. She’s disarmingly buoyant too. Her voice conveys a certain brightness one might not expect during discussions about how Alzheimer’s affects a person’s sex life or how sex toys can facilitate orgasms when it’s no longer as easy.

While Joan says older folks are typically relieved by her willingness to go there, younger people are surprised to hear her talk like that. Why wouldn’t they be?

Apart from the stray sex-positive TV show (see: Frankie & Grace, Transparent, and, to a certain degree, Golden Girls), senior sex, if it’s shown at all, is almost always depicted as ridiculous, gross, or non-existent. Ever seen Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton’s 2003 film Something’s Gotta Give? There’s a sex scene in which they attempt to consummate their love, but that in itself is a punchline—Nicholson, it appears, can’t get it up without Viagra.

Likewise, films like Quartet and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel have tried their hands at septuagenarian romance, but whatever sex the characters are supposed to be having must have taken place just out of the camera’s frame, because we never actually see these people, in all their aged glory, making love.

Hollywood has never been good at depicting sex accurately, regardless of how old the people are on screen, but at least sex between people under 50 is acknowledged. Pass that age threshold, though, and it would seem audiences are being spared depictions of aged sex. This lack of visibility and its false representation as “gross” or embarrassing only contributes to the stereotype that older bodies are not worthy of desire, which stokes the fear of younger people who fall prey to the idea that good sex belongs to the taut.

“Although mainstream media tells us younger people are objectively sexier, that’s not necessarily true,” Joan says. “We need to unlearn our society’s attitude that only young, firm bodies are desirable. We are capable of sexual pleasure at any age, and we are also capable of inspiring sexual desire. If we feel sexy and see ourselves as sexy, we project a juicy attitude that is appealing and desirable. Our negative body image is our own worst enemy—that’s what we need to battle, not the wrinkles or sagging body parts!”

Many older people do see themselves and their partners as sexy. In fact, one 1999 survey conducted by AARP and Modern Maturity magazine revealed that the percentage of people age 45 and older who consider their partners physically attractive actually increases with age—a reassuring finding, no doubt, for the many young people biting their nails about growing old.

More soothing still is Joan’s point that it’s not just looks that matter when it comes to attraction. Non-physical qualities like humor, intelligence, kindness, communicative skills, thoughtfulness, sex technique and romanticism factor in equally, if not more, into a person’s allure. More importantly, these qualities—not a really thick head of hair and a glistening set of six-pack abs—are what creates the intimacy and connection that makes sex good. Of equal importance is technique, but even that is ageless. In fact, Joan, and many others, would argue that age only improves and refines a person’s bedroom aptitude.

“That’s why I say sex has no expiration date and that it’s better than anyone expected,” says Joan. “In general, we know ourselves pretty well by the time we hit 50. We know what we like, and we know what we’re looking for—not just sexually, but in life. We’ve already made the requisite mistakes in past relationships, and we’re more aware than ever that we’re not invincible. This makes us less inclined to settle and more interested in the idea of pursuing something, and someone, that works right for us.”

Joan’s message is not that sex-while-70 is fancy-free. Far from it. Those willing to brave it often, though not always, grapple with challenges like decreased libido, difficulty becoming aroused, erectile dysfunction, vaginal dryness, painful sex, a lack of mobility, depression and hormonal changes that can make the idea of sex seem like a lot more effort than it’s worth.

“One reason people give up on sex as they age is they don’t feel the same hormonal urges as they used to,” Joan explains. “We also may have medical or mobility issues, or we’re on medications that dampen our responses.”

Insecurity about the aging body’s appearance and physical abilities can also make older folk withdraw from sex. Many people Joan’s age retreat from the world of romance over anxiety about having sex with a new person, and many more are overly cautious about exploring pleasure in their older years because of lingering damage from a past relationship. New and unfamiliar feelings also come up as people age—a person’s sexuality, after all, is dynamic and often in flux across their lifetime. Not surprisingly, Joan says one of the most common things she hears from people is that they want a different kind of touch than they used to, in a different place, and by a different person (even by a different gender)

“Any combination of these things can lead us to assume that part of our lives is over,” she says. “But that doesn’t have to be true!”

What’s important for people her age to remember, she says, is that these changes and challenges are not insurmountable obstacles to satisfying sex. They just mean seniors have got to learn to work with what they’ve got.

Thankfully, Joan’s got an arsenal of reassuring tips to help them do that.

One of her favorite and most effective nuggets of wisdom is a concept called “responsive desire,” an idea popularized by author and sex researcher Emily Nagoski in her book Come As You Are. Responsive desire describes a simple method for getting in the mood when you’re not feeling aroused: stimulating yourself physically before you’re feeling randy. A diametric reversal of how pleasure works in a person’s younger years—arousal first, then stimulation—responsive desire is a game-changer for vintage bodies who, for the myriad reasons listed above, may not feel as lusty as they used to.

“Many seniors think, ‘If I don’t have the mental urge, it means I don’t want or need to have sex’,” says Joan. “Not so. You just have to create that urge yourself by getting revved up physically even if you don’t feel desire at that moment. Once you do, the desire will follow.” In other words, senior desire is there, it just needs to be awakened in the body first.

This is a life-altering revelation with real effects. One of Joan’s readers wrote in to say that learning about responsive desire saved her marriage. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to have sex, she discovered, it was just that she was waiting for desire to occur rather than creating it herself. Once seniors learn they have more control over desire than they think, explains Joan, an entire world of passionate and pleasurable sex opens up.

This is especially true if they’re willing to evolve their understanding of what the word “sex” actually means. As opposed to its standard definition of “penis going in and out of vagina,” Joan urges the people she speaks with to see sex as “anything that arouses them and brings them sexual pleasure.”

Defined in those terms, sex becomes more than just a single, penetrative act by which to judge the success of a romantic undertaking. Instead, sex can be viewed as a whole spectrum of acts: masturbation, using sex toys, kissing, a BDSM power exchange, watching porn together, the stroking of a partner’s newly replaced knee under the table. It all counts as long as it’s pleasurable.

Often, what feels good need not include orgasm or an erection to occur. In fact, taking the emphasis off both these things can provide an opportunity to explore a new, more intimate and more fulfilling iteration of lovemaking—one that’s based more on extended arousal and foreplay, an elongation of the pleasure process and less pressure to “perform.”

And while many younger people may gawk at the prospect of orgasm-less, erection-free sex, this expanded-definition approach has worked wonders for Joan’s senior readers (it can for people of all ages, actually—you don’t need to wait until you’re 75 to realize that goal-less, more full-body sex can be beyond pleasurable). One older gent who viewed one of Joan’s Great Sex Without Penetration webinars wrote:

Joan is flattered but not surprised by success stories like this. “Sex really opens up for us when we realize it doesn’t have to take a particular form, go in a particular direction or have a particular outcome,” she says. Viewed like that, it’s no wonder so many older people are maintaining healthy and active sex lives. They might not be having intercourse per se—though many are—but they are sure as hell having sex.

“We don’t have older-age sex ed, so when we start not being able to have orgasms with penetration or enjoy sex at all because of vaginal pain or erection problems, people are usually relieved to find out that sex isn’t over for them,” says Joan. “People just need the right education and a spirit of adventure.”

“That,” she adds, “and a sense of humor. If you can’t laugh at sex at our age, what can you laugh at?”

Complete Article HERE!

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Your grandparents are probably having oral sex

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A new study from Michigan State University suggests that older adults may be having more oral sex than you think.

by Korin Miller

It’s easy to assume that once people reach a certain age, their sex lives dwindle to nothing. But the findings of a new study might help turn that belief on its head.

The researchers analyzed data, specifically regarding oral sex, from 884 heterosexual couples between the ages of 62 and 90 who had previously participated in the National Social Life, Health and Aging Project. And they had some pretty interesting takeaways — including that 37 percent of the people reported having had oral sex in the past year.

The analysis, published in the Journals of Gerontology: Series B, also found that oral sex was linked to relationship quality. Specifically, older adults who reported having better relationship quality gave oral sex to their partner more often than those who rated their relationship quality as less positive. That link was stronger for men than for women.

Receiving oral sex seemed to influence how positively men and women felt about their relationships. Further, the more often a person gave oral sex to his or her partner, the more often the partner reciprocated.

“Stereotypes exist that most older people are sexually inactive or asexual, and that sex is not important for older people,” lead study author Hui Liu, a professor of sociology at Michigan State University, tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “However, emerging evidence has shown that sexuality remains an important part of life and is key to the quality of life and well-being for many older adults.” Liu explains that she wanted to research the topic because “sexuality in later life is an underexplored research area

Sex in general may bring couples closer together, she adds, but “oral sex may play a special role for older couples because many older adults suffer sexual dysfunction problems (which makes penile-vaginal sex challenging for them), but they still want to be sexually intimate and remain close to their partners in old age. And, as the findings suggest, she says, oral sex may be “an alternate way to maintain an active sexual life, a high-quality relationship, and psychological vibrancy

The study also found that men seemed to get more relationship satisfaction from giving, rather than receiving, oral sex. And that’s not surprising to David Ley, a clinical psychologist who specializes in sexuality issues. “A consistent finding in sexual research is that men gain a sense of masculinity, satisfaction, and pride from being able to give their female partner an orgasm and sexual pleasure,” he tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “I suspect this foundation may underlie these results, as a man who cares more about his partner, their relationship, and her pleasure is more likely to be willing to perform oral sex, focusing on her own needs. In other words, it’s easier to be sexually selfless when you feel good about your relationship and partner.”

Still, Ley assures, older couples who don’t practice oral sex shouldn’t worry that it will affect their relationship satisfaction. “Remember that 63 percent of these elderly couples aren’t having oral sex,” he says. “Couples with higher levels of sexual dysfunction, including erectile issues or problems with vaginal lubrication, were more likely to practice oral sex. So not having oral sex might just mean that intercourse is working just fine.”

Complete Article HERE!

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The five rules of good midlife sex

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It’s been said that sex in midlife is like going to the gym: you know you should probably do it a couple of times a week, but work, children and a mountain of life admin always seem to get in the way, leaving you too tired to bother (and vowing to do it next week instead).

But, just like regular exercise, research shows that continuing to have sex in later life improves your overall health and immunity, reduces your risk of depression and heart disease, makes you smarter and look younger, as well as strengthening your relationship.

“In theory, we should all be having more sex in midlife because the stresses of the child-rearing years have eased off, couples know each other’s bodies far better and those body hangups that can preoccupy younger people seem less concerning,” says Janice Hiller, a consultant clinical psychologist and relationship therapist. “However, couples may have also spent years becoming increasingly tired, neglecting their relationship or resenting each other. But it’s worth getting things back on track for your health and happiness.” 

So, how can you maintain a midlife sex life?

Have a sex schedule

Ask any busy midlifer and they’ll tell you there are only a few sex-windows in the week – the mornings are generally too rushed (especially if you have children to get off to school and a train to catch), evenings go by in a blur of cooking and box-sets, and weekends seem to be increasingly full of neighbour’s BBQs and DIY. So what’s the answer?

In four words: have a sex schedule. Researchers from Ruhr University in Bochum, Germany, announced this week that – while crushingly unromantic – scheduling in a time and date for sex each week (and sticking to it, as you would a work meeting) is the key to keeping your sex life going. The researchers interviewed almost 1,000 couples and found those who were “thorough and dutiful” in their sex schedules had more satisfying and regular sex lives as a result.

According to Barbara Bloomfield, a Relate therapist and author of Couples Therapy: Dramas of Love and Sex, middle-aged women increasingly have what’s called ‘reactive arousal’, whereas middle-aged men still have ‘primary arousal’. “This means a man will be able to just look at something he finds attractive and feel aroused,” says Barbara. “Whereas reactive arousal means women need time to become aroused, by being cuddled, kissed and plenty of foreplay.

“Long kisses – around 15 seconds – are incredibly effective in improving libido. I’ve advised this technique with many of my couples through Relate and while it’s very simple, it works. So rather than just having a peck on the lips, enjoy longer kisses.’”

Get an early night

And not because of why you think. A recent US study published in the health journal Menopause found women over 50 who slept for fewer than five hours a night had less satisfying sex lives. “When you’re tired, your sex drive is the first thing to go,” says nutritionist Marilyn Glenville, author of The Natural Health Bible for Women.

She recommends increasing your levels of magnesium, which has muscle and nerve-calming properties and is found in fish, dark green leafy vegetables and pumpkin and sunflower seeds. Or try a supplement like Wild Nutrition Food-Grown Magnesium (£16.50 for 30 capsules). 

Stay healthy…

The healthier you are, the healthier your sex life will be. “Feeling healthy and fit will make you feel sexier, so as well as getting enough sleep, follow a balanced diet, don’t drink too much, manage your stress levels and exercise regularly,” says Marilyn. “Good fats, found in oily fish, nuts, seeds, avocado and oils, are important for boosting libido because sex hormones like testosterone are manufactured from the cholesterol contained within those foods. 

“Foods rich in zinc, like spinach, beef and kidney beans, also play an important role in the production of sex hormones.

… And keep your relationship healthy too

It sounds obvious, but you have to be happy together to want to have sex in the first place: “I often find in clinic that things like feeling disrespected or undermined outside of the bedroom have just as much of an impact on libido, if not more, than things like tiredness or hormonal changes,” says Janice Hiller. “So if a couple are having therapy for a poor sex life, I’ll often get them to work on issues outside the bedroom first.

“The most common issues I see are women who feel they’re not listened to and men who feel their partner complains or gets angry with them, which causes them to retreat further. So I tell couples to talk through their problems in a calm, non-threatening nor demanding way, and express how they’re feeling about certain things.

“Once they’ve worked through those problems, the sex one tends to resolve itself.”

Complete Article HERE!

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Norwegian elders tops in masturbation

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More than 90 per cent of Norwegian men between the ages of 60 and 75 are sexually active, as are almost 75 per cent of Norwegian women.

It may make people uncomfortable to think about it, but older people actually have an active sex life, according to a new survey that has compared the sexual habits of the elderly in four European countries.

By: Nancy Bazilchuk

Few people study the sex lives of the elderly. But once they do, they find some surprises, says Bente Træen, a professor of health psychology at the University of Oslo.

“Researchers are like other people. We are raised to think of sexuality as something for the young and the good looking,” she said. Now, she says, they know better.

Træen worked with group of European researchers to study sex among the European elderly.

Many masturbate

Træen and researchers from five other countries have compared the sexual activity of people between the ages of 60 and 75 in Norway, Denmark, Belgium and Portugal in a major study. Now the team is beginning to publish its results.

She says the group’s findings are unexpected, even for people who are accustomed to studying sexual habits.

“I am surprised at how many people are sexually active. It’s not that I’m comparing what we found to previous studies, because there aren’t that many other studies. It’s more about the societal myths we have about the elderly and sex,” she says.

Many people in the study reported that they masturbate and often have intercourse. What was also surprising was that the elderly in the study were generally satisfied with their sexuality, according to Træen.

Norwegian men and women were at the top of the list when it came to masturbation.

Fully 65 per cent of men and 40 per cent of women said they had masturbated in the previous month.

In contrast, very few Portuguese men and women say they have masturbated.

Lots of intercourse in Portugal

Men in Portugal, on the other hand, are at the top when it comes to having intercourse, according to the survey.

The Portuguese say they have intercourse one to three times a week. This is far more frequently than men in Norway, Denmark and Belgium. In these three countries, men report having intercourse about two to three times a month.

Thus, it is perhaps not surprising that Portuguese men are most satisfied with their sex life of all the men in the survey.

Nordic women in the survey reported being most satisfied with their sex life.

Træen interprets these results as reflecting the gender equality situation in the different countries.

“In Norway, women are much more used to negotiating with regards to their own sexuality. The Mediterranean countries are much more traditional when it comes to gender roles. The typical Portuguese man has access to a partner that he has intercourse with — and he is very satisfied with that. While we in the north may have intercourse less often and masturbate more, intercourse is what really matters in Portugal,” Træen said.

Poorer data from Portugal

Træen and the other researchers first conducted recruitment interviews by phone to find a representative selection of both sexually active and inactive individuals for the survey. These individuals then were sent a questionnaire by mail.

However, there was a big difference in participation from the different countries.

In Norway, 68 per cent agreed to participate. In Portugal, only a quarter of respondents contacted by phone said they would be willing to participate in the written questionnaire. Many people also changed their minds after saying yes on the phone. Træen thinks this makes for some uncertainty regarding the data from Portugal.

“The response rate in Norway was much higher than we had thought it would be. I actually expected more people to drop out of the survey. But the response rate in Denmark and Belgium response was also quite good. It’s possible that people in Portugal found some questions offensive, although we obviously tried to avoid this problem,” she said.

Desire diminishes, but does not disappear

Træen was also the main author of another recent study on older people’s sexuality. Here, researchers asked 75-year-olds in the same four countries about their sex drive as compared to ten years ago. Most people responded that it was a little less or the same.

“Sexual desire diminishes with age, but that does not mean it disappears. How satisfied you are with your sex life changes as you age. As a young person, you most appreciate the ‘gymnastic side’ of sex and pleasure related to genital contact. When you are older it’s more about having a comfortable relationship with someone, and being touched and kissed,” she said.

There is an important difference between the sexes here. Health is often what decides if men still have sexual desire, while for women, interpersonal relationships are the most decisive in determining their level of desire.

Health care systems must recognize need for sex

This new information on older people’s sexual habits shatters old myths, Træen says.

“Older people are not asexual. That means that sex must be higher on the agenda as an issue in the planning of health care for older adults,” she said.

Complete Article HERE!

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Older Americans Having Sex, Just Not Talking About It — to Docs

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By Megan Brooks

[M]ost older Americans are interested in sex, but only about half of those with a romantic partner are sexually active and many don’t talk about sex with their partner or clinician, according to a University of Michigan poll released today.

“Sexual health among older adults doesn’t get much attention but is linked closely to quality of life, health and well-being,” Erica Solway, PhD, coassociate director of the poll, said in a news release.

“It’s important for older adults and the clinicians who care for them to talk about these issues and about how age-related changes in physical health, relationships, lifestyles and responsibilities such as caregiving, affect them,” said Solway.

The University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging asked a nationally representative sample of 1002 adults aged 65 to 80 years about their views on relationships and sex and their experiences related to sexual health.

Nearly three quarters (72%) of those surveyed have a current romantic partner (married, partnered, or in a relationship) and most (92%) have been in a stable relationship for 10 years or longer. Among those without a current romantic partner, 13% have been on a date with someone new in the past 2 years.

Taking the Sex Pulse of Older Americans

Overall, 76% of older adults said sex is an important part of a romantic relationship at any age, with men more likely than women to hold this view (84% vs 69%).

Two in five (40%) said they still have sex. Sexual activity declined with age, from 46% for those aged 65 to 70 years, to 39% for those aged 71 to 75, to 25% for those aged 76 to 80. Older men were more likely to report being sexually active than older women (51% vs 31%), as were those who said they were in good health (45% vs 22%).

About half of those with a romantic partner (54%) reported being sexually active compared with only 7% of those without a romantic partner; 92% of those who are sexually active say intimacy is an important part of a romantic relationship and 83% say it is important to their overall quality of life.

Overall, about two thirds of respondents (65%) said they were interested in sex; 30% were extremely or very interested and 35% were somewhat interested. Half of elderly men (50%) said they were extremely or very interested in sex compared with 12% of women. However, the percentage of adults very interested in sex declined with age, from 34% at age 65 to 70, to 28% at age 71 to 75, to 19% for those aged 76 to 80.

About three in four older adults (73%) said they were satisfied with their sex life, with women more likely to be satisfied than men. Those in better health were also more apt to be satisfied with their sex life.

Who’s Talking About Sex?

“This survey just confirms that the need for and interest in sexual intimacy doesn’t stop at a certain age,” Alison Bryant, PhD, senior vice president of research for AARP, a cosponsor of the poll, said in the news release.

Sixty-two percent of older adults polled said they would talk to their healthcare provider if they were having a problem with their sexual health, yet only 17% had actually done so in the past 2 years. Of those who had talked with their doctor about sexual health, 60% said they initiated the conversation themselves and 40% said their doctor started the conversation. Most of those who had talked with their provider about their sexual health said they were comfortable doing so (88%).

“Although most older adults say that they would talk with their doctor about sexual concerns, health care providers should routinely be asking all of their older patients about their sexual health and not assume that bringing up the issue will offend or embarrass them,” said Bryant.

The poll also found that 18% of men and 3% of women have recently taken medications or supplements to improve sexual function and most said it was helpful (77%).

This is a notable finding, the University of Michigan pollsters say. While some of these older adults may be taking prescription medications to aid sexual function, others may be taking over-the-counter supplements. Given potential side effects and drug interactions, they suggest providers ask patients about supplement use.

Results of the poll are available online.

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Older people still have sex, but it’s the intimacy and affection that matters more

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Sexuality is still an important part of life for older people, but it’s seldom discussed and rarely researched.

By and

Sexuality encompasses sex, gender identities and roles, sexual orientation, eroticism, pleasure, intimacy and reproduction and what we think, feel and believe about them. It has been a research focus for over a hundred years, and highlighted as an important part of the human experience. Since the first studies on human sexuality in the 1940s, research has consistently demonstrated that sexual interest and activity are sustained well into old age. However, only a fraction of the research has explored sexuality in the later years of life.

Most of the early research on sexuality and ageing looked at the sexual behaviours and biology of older adults, generally ignoring the wider concept of sexuality. When researchers did discuss sexuality more broadly, many referred to sexuality as the domain of the young, and emphasised this was a major barrier to the study of sexuality in older adults.

Sexuality in later life ignored

Towards the end of the 20th century, research expanded to include attitudes towards sexual expression in older adults, and the biological aspects of sexuality and ageing. Consistently, the research showed sexual expression is possible for older adults, and sustained sexual activity into old age is more likely for those who had active sex lives earlier in life.

By the late 1980s, there was a strong focus on the biological aspects of ageing. This expanded to include the reasons behind sexual decline. The research found these were highly varied and many older adults remain sexually active well into later life.

But despite evidence adults continue to desire and pursue sexual expression well into later life, both society in general and many health professionals have inadvertently helped perpetuate the myth of the asexual older person. This can happen through an unintentional lack of recognition, or an avoidance of a topic that makes some people uncomfortable.

Why does this matter?

These ageist attitudes can have an impact on older adults not only in their personal lives, but also in relation to their health needs. Examples include the failure of medical personnel to test for sexually transmissible infections in older populations, or the refusal of patients to take prescribed medications because of adverse impacts on erection rigidity. We need more health practitioners to be conscious of and incorporate later life sexuality into the regular health care of older adults. We still have a long way to go.

By ignoring the importance of sexuality for many older adults, we fail to acknowledge the role that sexuality plays in many people’s relationships, health, well-being and quality of life. Failure to address sexual issues with older patients may lead to or exacerbate marital problems and result in the withdrawal of one or both partners from other forms of intimacy. Failure to discuss sexual health needs with patients can also lead to incorrect medical diagnoses, such as the misdiagnosis of dementia in an older patient with HIV.

It’s not about ‘the deed’ itself

In a recent survey examining sexuality in older people, adults aged between 51 and 89 were asked a series of open-ended questions about sexuality, intimacy and desire, and changes to their experiences in mid-life and later life. This information was then used to create a series of statements that participants were asked to group together in ways they felt made sense, and to rank the importance of each statement.

The most important themes that emerged from the research encompassed things such as partner compatibility, intimacy and pleasure, and factors that influence the experience of desire or the way people express themselves sexually. Although people still considered sexual expression and sexual urges to be important, they were not the focus for many people over 45.

Affectionate and intimate behaviours, trust, respect and compatibility were more important aspects of sexuality than intercourse for most people. Overall, the message was one about the quality of the experience and the desire for connection with a partner, and not about the frequency of sexual activities.

People did discuss barriers to sexual expression and intimacy such as illness, mood or lack of opportunity or a suitable partner, but many felt these were not something they focused on in their own lives. This is in line with the data that shows participants place a greater importance on intimacy and affectionate behaviours such as touching, hugging and kissing, rather than intercourse.

These results help us challenge the existing stereotype of the “asexual older person” and the idea intercourse is necessary to be considered sexually active. They also make it clear researchers and health practitioners need to focus on a greater variety of ways we can improve the experience and expressions of sexuality and intimacy for adults from mid-life onwards beyond medical interventions (like Viagra) that focus on prolonging or enhancing intercourse.

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Viagra rising: How the little blue pill revolutionized sex

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[T]wenty years ago, a little blue pill called Viagra unleashed a cultural shift in America, making sex possible again for millions of older men and bringing the once-taboo topic of impotence into daily conversation.

While the sexual improvement revolution it sparked brightened up the sex lives of many couples, it largely left out women still struggling with dysfunction and loss of libido over time. They have yet to benefit from a magic bullet to bring it all back, experts say.

About 65 million prescriptions have been filled worldwide for the blockbuster Pfizer drug approved by the US Food and Drug Administration on March 27, 1998.

It was the first pill aimed at helping men get erections.

Suddenly, talk of an amazing drug that could make an older man’s penis hard again was all over television and magazines.

The Viagra boom also coincided with the rise of the internet, and the explosion of online pornography.

Ads for Viagra were designed to reframe what had been known as “male impotence” as “erectile dysfunction” or ED, a medical condition that could finally be fixed.

Republican senator, military veteran and one-time presidential candidate Bob Dole became the first television spokesman for Viagra, admitting his own fears about erectile dysfunction to the masses.

“It’s a little embarrassing to talk about ED, but it is so important for millions of men and their partners,” he said.

The strategy worked.

Before Viagra, men wanted to talk about their erectile problems, and did, but the conversations were awkward and difficult, recalled Elizabeth Kavaler, a urology specialist at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York.

“Now, sexuality in general is very out there,” she added.

“Sex has become an expected part of our lives as we age. And I am sure Viagra has been a big part of that.”

MISUNDERSTOOD DRUG

Viagra has had a “major impact” — on a par with the way antibiotics changed the way infections are treated, and how statins became ubiquitous in the fight against heart disease, said Louis Kavoussi, chairman of urology at Northwell Health, a New York-area hospital network.

Viagra’s release also came amid a “sort of a clampdown on physicians interacting with companies,” he said.

“So this was a perfect medicine to advertise to consumers. It was a lifestyle type of medicine.”

Viagra, or sildenafil citrate, was first developed as a drug meant to treat high blood pressure and angina.

But by 1990, men who took part in early clinical trials discovered its main effect was improving their erections, by boosting blood flow to the penis.

For all its popularity, Viagra is still often misunderstood.

“It isn’t an aphrodisiac,” said Kavoussi.

“A lot of men who ask about it say, ‘My wife isn’t very interested in relations,” he added.

“And I say, ‘Viagra is not going to change that.'”

SEXUAL REVOLUTION

In 2000, the comedy show “Saturday Night Live” featured a spoof on ads that showed sexually satisfied men saying, “Thanks, Viagra.”

In it, one eye-rolling actress after another was featured groaning “Thanks, Viagra,” as a horny male partner groped her from behind or gripped her in a slow-dance.

The skit was funny because it reflected a reality few people were talking about.

“We are a very puritanical society, and I think Viagra has loosened us up,” said Nachum Katlowitz, director of urology and fertility at Staten Island University Hospital.

“But for the most part, the women have been left out of the sexual improvement revolution.”

Pfizer finally did include women in its marketing for Viagra, in 2014. The commercials featured sultry women, including at least one with a foreign accent, speaking directly to the camera, telling men to get themselves a prescription.

‘FEMALE VIAGRA’

In 2015, the FDA approved a pill called Addyi (flibanserin), which was cast in the media as the “female Viagra,” and was touted as the first libido-enhancing pill for women who experienced a loss of interest in sex.

The pill was controversial from the start.

A kind of anti-depressant, women were warned not to drink alcohol with it. It also cost hundreds of dollars and came with the risk of major side effects like nausea, vomiting and thoughts of suicide.

“It didn’t go over too big,” said Katlowitz.

Valeant Pharmaceuticals bought Addyi for $1 billion in 2015, but sold it back to the developer, Sprout Pharmaceuticals, at a steep discount last year.

Older women’s main problem when it comes to sex is vaginal dryness that accompanies menopause, and can make sex painful.

Solutions tend to include hormones, or laser treatments that revitalize the vagina. They are just beginning to grow in popularity, but still cost hundreds to thousands of dollars, said Kavaler.

“We are at least 20 years behind men,” she said.

For Katlowitz, Viagra was a prime example of “the greed of the pharmaceutical industry.”

Viagra cost about $15 per pill when it first came out, and rose to more than $50. It finally went generic last year, lowering the price per pill to less than $1.

“There was absolutely no reason to charge $50 a pill,” said Katlowitz.

“It was just that they could, so they did.”

Complete Article HERE!

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For Menopause Sex Discomfort, Gel Worked as Well as Estrogen

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Study find gels worked as well as prescription hormone tablets at reducing symptoms of menopause-related sexual discomfort.

By Lindsey Tanner

[I]n a study of women with menopause-related sexual discomfort, gels worked as well as prescription hormone tablets at reducing symptoms.

The researchers say the results suggest low-cost, over-the-counter moisturizers might be the best option.

Most women in the study reported some relief from their most bothersome symptoms — painful intercourse, vaginal dryness or itching — regardless of treatment. Still, not quite half the women experienced what researchers considered a meaningful decline in symptom severity.

The problems are linked with declining levels of the hormone estrogen, which happens to all women when they reach menopause.

What baffles researchers is why only about half of women experience bothersome symptoms. Without that answer, pinpointing the cause and finding the perfect solution is difficult, said Dr. Caroline Mitchell, the study’s lead author and a researcher at Massachusetts General Hospital.
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“Until we know why, our treatments are really just pretty broad attempts,” Mitchell said. “We’re not targeting the true biological root cause.”

Researchers enrolled 300 women at a Kaiser Permanente research institute in Seattle and at the University of Minnesota. Women were randomly assigned to one of three treatments: prescription vaginal estrogen tablets and a gel with inactive ingredients; placebo tablets and Replens over-the counter moisturizer; or placebo tablets and the inert gel. Treatment lasted 12 weeks.

The results were published Monday in JAMA Internal Medicine. The National Institutes of Health paid for the study and the researchers have no financial ties to the products studied.

A journal editorial says there have been few similar studies and most were too small to reach conclusive results.

The latest results show that prescription treatment that can cost $200 is no better than over-the-counter moisturizers costing less than $20. The researchers noted that some women may prefer tablets to creams, which can be messy, but the extra money won’t buy extra relief.

Women with troublesome symptoms “should choose the cheapest moisturizer or lubricant available over the counter — at least until new evidence arises to suggest that there is any benefit to doing otherwise,” the editorial said.

Complete Article HERE!

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