Older people refuse physical intimacy. Or do they?
In most families, sex is barely talked about or is presented as abstractly as possible – parents would often put the teenager at the dinner table and “give the talk” about how sex works and then proceed to show what a condom looks like. Hollywood and Pornhub also do not give young people realistic ideas about physical intimacy and its diversity – as a result, many adolescents are led to believe that all sex life only occurs up until the age of 35, and that their 40-year-old parents in the bedroom are only sleeping. This extends to false beliefs that grandparents do not engage in sexual activities – to them it seems that their grandparents are hopelessly lost in terms of sex and are only entertained by innocent activities like knitting or walking with their grandchildren. The idea of an old woman from a certain advertisement can masturbate or strip in front of other people seems strange or maybe even blasphemous to them.
Nevertheless, sex after 60, 70 or even 90 is not an exceptional phenomenon. According to the University of Manchester, more than 50% of British men and about a 33% of women over 70 are sexually active. A similar study in the United States also showed that older Americans do not stop having sex.
Older people, like everyone else, need attention, warmth and contact with other people. Perhaps retirees need it even more than everyone else – because when the career is over and children grow up, it becomes it is more important to maintain close relationships with a partner and to monitor health, including sexual.
What Is Sex Like For The Elderly
Naturally, sex at the age of 70 is not the same as at the age of 20, primarily because the body undergoes normal age-related changes. At 45-55 years, women go through menopause – for several years, the ovaries stop producing eggs and hormonal changes occur in the body, which often have unpleasant symptoms, such as hot flashes (when it suddenly becomes hot and the face starts to burn) mood swings, weakness, changes in skin texture, body proportions, and the appearance of noticeable wrinkles. Many women note a decrease in libido, vaginal dryness and discomfort during penetration. Due to a decrease in the amount of estrogen in the entire body, the vaginal walls become thinner and more sensitive, and less fluid is released. Not all women experience the negative impact of menopause, but many note depression, anxiety, and emotional instability, much like during PMS.
Experts point out that anxiety and depression during menopause are more often seen in those who have encountered them in their youth, and associate the vulnerability of the psyche during this period not only with hormones, but also with social expectations. Women clearly do not feel more confident, when they are told that the inability to climax is “the decline of life”, or that their “rose has faded”.
The Fear Of An Unplanned Pregnancy Is Gone At The Age Of Menopause
This is good news. Despite all the difficulties associated with hormonal adjustment, some women note that after menopause, their sex life has improved, because by the age of 50 the important stress factor disappears – the fear of an unplanned pregnancy, and the opportunity to get orgasms remains. We already know how oxytocin, which is produced during orgasm, is useful and how sexual arousal and discharge act on the body. The thought of having an orgasm without the fear of unplanned pregnancy is one of the benefits of old-age sexual encounters. This then becomes a key factor for an improved sex life.
Men also go through age-related changes – not as drastic as women, but no less exciting. By analogy with the menopause, the processes occurring in the male body are called andropause – this is not an entirely correct term, since men do not lose the ability to reproduce, but they experience a gradual decrease in testosterone production. One out of every 5 males, over the course of his life, faces erectile dysfunction. It was previously believed that this disorder is associated with age-related changes, but now doctors are confident that it is due to medical or psychological factors: erectile dysfunction is much more common in men with diabetes, cardiovascular and neurological diseases, it is also associated with lifestyle (for example, alcohol and cigarette habits) and psychological state – like women, many men in adulthood feel less attractive, and erectile dysfunction makes them doubt their “manhood”.
Not only diseases, but also the drugs with which they are treated with affect the level of attraction, ability to arouse and orgasm in both men and women. This is not as scary as it seems: most common problems can be solved by contacting an ordinary therapist, psychotherapist, sexologist or endocrinologist, who will help you choose a hormone replacement therapy. In adulthood, there are a lot of advantages that extend to sex: by the years 50-60, people begin to better understand what they like, listen to their body and gives it what it wants, they also get rid of stereotypes and unrealistic expectations.
Partners who have been living together for a long time finally stop being shy with each other – besides, if their children have grown up to be adults and have moved out to their own homes, the parents can finally have personal space and more time for each other. Single people can also be sexually active – it’s harder for them to meet partners of their age as compared to when they were 20 years old but they can still try. Masturbation and sex toys can also be a solution (especially since things like vaginal balls and exercise equipment help keep the pelvic muscles in good shape). It turns out that there are no objective physiological reasons to stop having sex at 45 or at 60 – if many people voluntarily refuse to have sex in late adulthood, then cultural attitudes are primarily to blame.
Despite all the difficulties associated with hormonal adjustment, some women note that after menopause, their sex life has improved, because by the age of 50 the important stress factor disappears – the fear of an unplanned pregnancy, and the opportunity to get orgasms remains.
How Pop Culture Views Sex Among The Elderly
Intimacy in adulthood is a topic that popular culture ignores or makes fun of. To them, older people who are sexually active are described as “people with gray hair, beard, and are devils in bed” as if they behave indecently, or ironically-appeasing – as if that people over 60 are unable to love and feel pleasure. “The natural need for physical contact, tenderness, manifestation of sympathy and love is buried below conversations about decent behavior, age characteristics, and special spirituality of the older age. This is ageism, or total discrimination of a person based on age” according to sociologists.
Older people are so poorly represented in popular culture, and the romantic and sensual relationships between them show very rarely. Although there is a slight shift in the cinema towards a positive image of old age, you still can hardly see the bed scene or close-up with a kiss from people older 60.
In most Hollywood films, the sex of “those who are behind …” appears solely as a reason for jokes. For example, all the sex scenes remain behind the scenes, and in those films where bed scenes with middle-aged people still exist, viewers focus on comedic difficulties, such as not having a crisp back or the need to run to the kitchen for Viagra. There is also a gender imbalance – scenes with the participation of mature men and much younger women are common, in fact almost never. 70-year-old men often play 50-year-olds, and the situation is often the other way around with women. However, even if the actress’s age matches the script, real women are unlikely to associate themselves with younger actresses.
If the idea of sex in your late 80s seems ridiculous to you, then you should change your mentality. Older people do have sex. They probably often have it more often and way better than young adults since they no longer have to worry about the fear of unexpected pregnancy. Let us change our mindsets and become more educated in this matter. Respect your elders as one day you will become one.
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