Aging And Sexual Problems
As people grow older they want to become closer to their loved ones. This includes both emotional and physical attachments. Many people want continuation of their active sexual life however, aging brings certain changes which may interfere with their desires.
The Normal Changes!
Aging changes both men and women physically which can affect the ability to have pleasurable sex. For example, physiological aging can greatly affect vagina in terms of both structure and functioning. It narrows the vaginal opening and makes the walls thinner and inelastic. Moreover, aging women have lesser vaginal lubrication which makes sex a less enjoyable activity.
Likewise, in men, erectile dysfunction (ED) is the most common issue. ED is the inability to achieve or maintain strong erections throughout the intercourse. Having erection issues occasionally is not troublesome but if it happens frequently then the affected person must consult a registered healthcare professional for suitable therapeutic options.
The Troublesome Changes!
Besides aging, there are other factors as well which can affect the ability to have pleasurable sex. These include certain diseases, medications, illnesses, surgeries, and disabilities.
- Chronic pain:
Any medical illness that involves chronic pain can interfere with the ability to have pleasurable sex. Though, chronic pain can be treated but then there are certain pain killers which may affect your sexual functioning. Therefore, one should always ask the doctor about the potential side effects of using these medications.
Arthritis is a painful condition which impedes the ability of individuals to engage in comfortable sex. However, pain can be relieved or at least improved with regular exercise, medications, and/or joint replacement surgeries. Besides this, taking warm baths, enough rest and adjusting timings and sexual positions may also play a helpful role.
Dementia can increase sexual desires in some people however, they may lack the ability to judge appropriate sexual behavior. People with severe dementia might seek for intimacy even if they are unable to recognize their partner which can be a very confusing situation for the spouse/partner. Seeking help from social workers, nurses or doctor can prove very beneficial in tackling partners with dementia.
Inability to control bladder or leakage of urine is one of the common issues that arises with aging. The pressure exerted on belly during sex can cause leakage of urine. To avoid this embarrassing situation many people stop engaging in sexual encounters. However, this problem can also be overcome by changing sexual positions.
Diabetes can make women prone to develop recurrent and severe vaginal yeast infections which make sex uncomfortable and less desirable due to itching and irritation. Good thing is that yeast infections are curable. While in men, diabetes may induce erectile dysfunction. However, in most cases, seeking treatment helps a great deal in managing the issue.
- Heart disease:
Heart disease make arteries constricted which affects the normal blood flow resulting in difficulty in achieving orgasms. Heart disease may also induce ED in men. Moreover, the partner might get afraid that having sex may exert pressure on heart and may trigger another heart attack. Though, sex is safe with heart disease but it is better to seek advice from your doctor.
Strokes can greatly interfere in having sexual activity. But, using medical devices or acquiring different sex positions can prove helpful. Some people who are paralyzed from waist down are still able to have orgasm and pleasurable sex.
There are certain surgeries which leave people in doubt whether they will be able to continue having pleasurable sex? These include:
- Prostatectomy- removal of prostate gland due to cancer or gland enlargement
- Hysterectomy – removal of uterus
- Mastectomy- removal of partial or complete breast
With support therapies a person can still enjoy having sex after undergoing these surgeries. If any concerns, person should discuss it with their doctors.
- Lochlainn, M. N., & Kenny, R. A. (2013). Sexual activity and aging. Journal of the American Medical Directors Association, 14(8), 565-572.
- Killinger, K. A., Boura, J. A., & Diokno, A. C. (2014). Exploring factors associated with sexual activity in community-dwelling older adults. Research in gerontological nursing, 7(6), 256-263.
- Galinsky, A. M., & Waite, L. J. (2014). Sexual activity and psychological health as mediators of the relationship between physical health and marital quality. The Journals of Gerontology Series B: Psychological Sciences and Social Sciences, gbt165.