New York Times, sex with a partner in the previous year was reported by 73 percent of people ages 57 to 64; 53 percent of those ages 64 to 75; and 26 percent of people 75 to 85. Of those who were active, most said they had sex two to three times a month or more. This enthusiasm about sex and intimacy isn't terribly surprising. After all, seniors have a lifetime of experience, so why not put it to good use? On top of that, as we grow older we can afford to spend more time on our intimate relationships—children are grown, careers are winding down, and we can devote more energy to our love life.
But no matter your age, problems in the bedroom can pop up every now and then. Of course, certain issues are more likely to occur as we reach the second stage of our lives. Whether you’re in a committed relationship or are happy playing the field, these obstacles can put a damper on your love life. That is, unless you know how to deal with them.
Common Problem #1: Menopause
“The Change,” as it is so ominously referred to, can cause a whole host of unsavory issues thanks to loss of estrogen. The side effects range from hot flashes that spawn inconvenient sweat-fests to changes in mood, not to mention myriad problems that impact your sex life. From vaginal dryness to discomfort during sex to the loss of libido altogether, menopause can be a bear of a problem to deal with in the bedroom. The good news is that the fix could be as simple as finding a good lubricant that works well. Other remedies include a healthy lifestyle, regular cardio exercise, and Kegel exercises that strengthen the muscles used during sex and make for more intense orgasms.
If none of that seems to be working, it may be time to discuss what you’re going through with your doctor. Medications and treatments for women who experience sex-limiting side effects of menopause are now available in droves. Although, like with any prescription drug, they may not work well for everyone or may have negative side effects of their own. However, even a low-dose of estrogen usually improves symptoms, according to the New York Times.
Common Problem #2: Erectile Dysfunction (ED)
Women aren’t alone in their battle with sex-affecting hormones. According to WebMD, it is estimated that as many as 30 million men in the United States suffer from ED, making it one of the most common sexual problems for men as they age.
Some men find medications such as Viagra to be effective in treating ED, while others have little success or experience side effects that cause even more erectile issues, or worse yet, put their health in danger. However, Adam and Eve points out that adopting a healthier lifestyle is often enough to improve ED. Certain measures such as losing weight, exercising regularly, cutting back on alcohol, quitting smoking, and eating well-balanced meals are natural ways to improve circulation throughout the body, and, more importantly, blood flow to the penis.
At the end of the day, penetration isn’t everything. Sexual pleasure for both partners can certainly be found outside of a firm erection. Though it may seem simple, activities like erotic touching, talking about sexual scenarios with each other, and reading books about sexuality can be satisfying without intercourse.
Common Problem #3: Ineffective Communication
This one is a hurdle in plenty of sexual relationships, so it’s no surprise that it can prove to be a problem even in the golden years. Communication with your partner is crucial to an off-the-charts experience between the sheets. That means talking before the clothes come off. Whether you discuss your fantasies, reservations, or merely practical measures—Are we using protection against STDs? Will we spend the night? My place or yours?—the important thing is that you start talking.
Take the time to explore what you and your partner like, and what you don’t. After you’ve reached a certain level of comfort with each other, try out new positions, scenarios, and lovemaking enhancements like massage oils or toys. Once the initial awkwardness passes and the line of communication has been established, you’ll be more comfortable discussing topics of the same nature in the future, ensuring that everyone feels safe, happy, and fully satisfied.
Common Problem #4: Body Image Fears
Let’s start by facing head-on what most of us are thinking: a 65-year-old’s body does not, will not, can never be a 25-year-old’s body. But who says that’s a bad thing anyway? Yes, certain areas are not as, ahem, pert as they used to be, and no, you don’t look like those Victoria’s Secret models, but most 25-year-olds don’t either.
If you find yourself stuck on how you feel about being naked in front of your partner, it’s high time to boost your body image. Get out there and buy a pair of lacy panties and a va-va-va-voom push-up bra the likes of which would make Marilyn Monroe jealous. Not for your partner, but for you. No matter how much you love sex, it won’t be as enjoyable if you’re worried about how you look during the deed. You should feel like the sexy woman, and the hot piece of tush, you are.
Common Problem #5: Nerves about Being with Someone New
A first foray into the bedroom with a new partner can be scary at any age. Shyness, sweaty palms, a stomach tied in knots—all completely normal and expected reactions when you’re about to get intimate with someone new. But when you or your partner has been with a significant other for decades, having sex for the first time again is often even more nerve-wracking. When dating in the second season of life, it’s not uncommon to find others who have lost their spouse or long-term partner.
According to a report by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 37 percent of older women are widows. The loss of a spouse can cause a wide range of emotions, including hesitancy to begin a new relationship, feelings of guilt or betrayal toward their former love, or anxiety about rushing into something new. Whether it’s you, your partner, or both who have experienced the loss of or separation from a lifelong partner, know that time and understanding are often the best remedy.
As the National Institute on Aging reports, many older couples find greater satisfaction in their sex life than they did when they were younger. And it’s easy to see why. We have fewer distractions, more time and privacy, no worries about getting pregnant, and greater intimacy with a lifelong partner. Common bedroom problems that may arise every now and then don’t have to ruin all the enjoyment we can find in sex; each one of them has a simple solution that usually requires just a little bit of effort and a whole lot of desire.