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More Sex Please, We're Getting Older!

More Sex Please, We're Getting Older! | Jo Divine

At Jo Divine our oldest customer is 95 so you’re never too old to enjoy a great sex life!

New research by Dr David Lee, a research fellow at Manchester University’s School of Social Sciences, and Professor Josie Tetley, using data from the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing found that people over the age of 80 still enjoy an active sex life (2017).

Although sexual health issues such as erectile dysfunction, vaginal atrophy as a result of the menopause and decreased sexual sensation occur more frequently at thie age, many older people enjoy the emotional side of their sexual relationship.

Helping people to find ways to enjoy sexual intimacy and pleasure is essential as we age and being dismissed by health care professionals for wanting a sex life has to stop.

Sex isn’t just about penetration but whatever feels pleasurable which is why many older people explore new ways to enjoy sexual intimacy and pleasure.

Quality of Life and Attitude

Research from the University of Waterloo (2017) found that the closer you feel to your actual age, the less likely you are to be satisfied with your sex life. The study looked at the attitudes of sex and aging of a group of 1170 adults of diverse sexual orientation from their mid-40s to their mid-70s over a 10-year period.

They concluded the more young at heart people felt, the better their sex life and attitude towards sex. Although they didn’t report having more sex, the quality of their sex life and sexual satisfaction was better.

New research conducted by the University of Waterloo and published in the Journal of Sex and Marital Therapy (2018) found that women who believe that their sex drive will change over time are better able to handle difficulties with sexual desire.

Having this viewpoint may help them to address sexual issues, seeking medical advice and exploring ways to overcome them to enjoy pleasureable sex rather than accepting that this is inevitable and there is nothing they can do about their sexual problems.

Sex boosts your brain power

Published in the Journals of Gerontology, Series B: Psychological and Social Sciences a study at Coventry University (June 2017) has found having regular sex is linked to improved brain function in older adults. The research involved 73 people aged between 50 and 83. and found that people who engaged in more regular sexual activity scored higher on tests that measured their verbal fluency and their ability to visually perceive objects and the spaces between them.

Older people are less inhibitied about sex

A study by Liza Berdychevsky (University of Illinois) and co-author Galit Nimrod from Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel (2016) found that many older people enjoy a good sex life, citing that it is essential to their well being, happiness and quality of life. Many explore new avenues to enjoy sexual pleasure, casting off old sexual inhibitions as they get older.

Often their children have left home leaving the whole house to enjoy sex wherever and whenever they like. There is nothing worse than having teenagers roaming about the house throughout the night to distrupt your sex life! Many parents relish the time when their children leave home to enjoy some privacy. The problem these days is that many grown children cannot afford to rent or buy their own home so live with mum and dad for much longer!

The study analysed 12 months of conversations about sex that happened on 14 leading online communities aimed at over 50’s, including english speaking websites based in Canada, USA, Australia and the UK.

Many people felt they are dismissed by their families and healthcare professional for wanting a sex life, especially those in residential care and assisted living facilities.

Often lack of privacy and sexual views of the carers in such homes is a barrier to older people still enjoying sex and the level of sexual activity allowed in residential or nursing homes.

No sex life can make you unhappy

A new survey by the charity Independent Age (2018) found that 52% of over-65s feel they do not have enough sex.

A survey by Homewise, financial planners (2016) found that lack of sex is a greater cause of distress to older people in Britain than being housebound, living in poor conditions or even being widowed, with 26% citing that having no sex life made them unhappy.

Age is no barrier to enjoying sex

A recent study at the University of Manchester (2015) found that 33% of over 70 year olds still enjoy sex at least twice a month.

The study of more than 6,000 men and women aged 50- 80 plus, living in the UK found that age is no barrier to an active sex life. For the over 70s, more than 50% of men and almost 33% of women said they are sexually active.

The study published in Archives of Sexual Behaviour found, that contrary to popular belief, older Britons are far less prudish about discussing their intimate moments with only 3% of respondents refusing to answer direct questions about their sex lives.

Many people confessed to indulging in frequent kissing, and love and affection stand the tests of time.

Reasons cited for more men having sex may be due to them having younger partners and women living longer as widows, therefore less likely to have a partner.

For the women in the study, they enjoy quality over quantity where their sex lives are concerned. Even though they indulged in less nights of passion, they enjoyed them more.

Sexual satisfaction increases with age

A new poll from the University of Michigan (2018) found that 40% of people between the ages of 65 and 80 are sexually active, according to the new findings from the National Poll on Healthy Aging. Nearly three-quarters of people in this age range have a romantic partner and 54 percent of those with a partner are sexually active. 73% said they were satisfied with their sex life.

However, only 17% said they have talked with their doctor or other health care provider about sexual health in the past two years and when they did, it was because they raised the topic, not their doctor.

As a company that works with healthcare professionals to help them advise their patients about their sex lives and sexual health, we know this is the case in the UK which is why we do the work we do to make it easier for them to have a conversation and be able to offer practical advice beyond using a tube of lubricant.

Research from the University of California, San Diego School of Medicine and the Vetrans Affairs San Diego Healthcare system (2012) found that sexual satisfaction increases with age. 50% of the women over 80 years reported orgasmic sexual satisfaction levels similar to younger women in the study, who were women in their 60’s.

Sexual satisfaction for the over 80s did not necessarily include sexual intercourse but sexual activity such as touching, caressing, oral sex and mutual masturbation.

Reasons for not having sex tend to be due to ill health or a lack of a partner, not because they don’t want to. Also living in residential care or sheltered housing can prevent older people still enjoying a good sex life.

Being in good health boosts your sexual activity

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine (2013) found that people who were in good health were twice as likely to be having sex than those in poor health. 50% of those still having sex reported at least one sexual problem- with 37% of men experiencing erectile dysfunction and 43% of women having a low libido.

Caroline Abrahams of the charity Age UK says;

“The fact this is the first time that people over 80 years old have been included in this kind of research highlights how often the public health needs of older people, including sexual health, is ignored or overlooked”

Better Sex Education for Older People

Sexual health messages are mainly aimed at younger people but the incidences of sexually transmitted diseases had significantly increased in the over 50’s as a result of second marriages, new relationships and older people remaining sexually active in the twilight years of their lives.

The survey by Independent Age found that one in 11 over-65s said they did not take any precautions against sexually transmitted infections when they started having sex with a new partner, with a third saying they would have sex on their first date.

It also found one in 10 over-75s have had multiple sexual partners since turning 65

The Terrence Higgins Trust said some older people who were newly single or sexually active later in life had little knowledge about preventing STIs. Many do not get tested when they are exposed or know where to get tested, leading to late diagnosis of STI’s and HIV.

Worryingly, a report by England Chief Medical Dame Sally Davies (2016) found that cases of chlamydia and genital warts had risen by one third within a decade in the 50-70 year old age group. In 2010, sexual health clinics recorded 11,366 new infections among this age group, which rose to 15,726 in 2014 – an increase of 38 per cent

The dating website Match have launched a dating site for older generations called Ourtime and recently published findings from a survey that showed 24% of over 50s said they’d sleep with a new partner within one month of dating, compared to just 18% of 18-24 year olds which is why sex education is needed for the older generation.

A 2010 study of sexual health from Indiana University found the lowest rates of condom use were among people ages 45 and older.

A study conducted by Dr Cynthia Morton at the University of Florida highlighted the lack of sexual health resources available to older women. The study found that women are uncomfortable seeking sexual health advice from their family doctor, even though they are aware of sexually transmitted diseases, because they believe that their family doctor will assume they are already knowledgeable about the issue or may consider them too old to be having sex.

Healthcare Professionals Need To Talk About Sex

Many medical professionals neglect to discuss sexual health practices with their older patients under the false assumption that they are not sexually active, are already informed or do not feel comfortable discussing sexual health issues.

When a 65 year old man complains about problems with his waterworks or a 72 year old woman reports lower abdominal pain, many doctors do not consider that the symptoms may be caused by a sexually transmitted disease because they are under the assumption that their patient is sexual inactive or may feel uncomfortable asking the patient about their sex life. It is a great opportunity to educate the patient about safe sex as many of these diseases are completely preventable.

Some healthcare professionals feel uncomfortable discussing sexual health issues with their patients as they may not enjoy sex or have preconceived ideas about who should be having sex and what is acceptable sexual practices. If their patients asks questions about sexual health which they feel they cannot answer, they should seek further advice or refer the patient to an appropriately trained healthcare professional.

Great Sex without Penetration

Older people are also experimenting with their sex lives, buying sex toys, bondage, reading erotic fiction or watching erotic films. Many women who outlive their partner often buy a vibrator to fulfil their sexual needs once their partner has gone.

They also buy cock rings to enable men to sustain an erection. The Pulse Solo III and the Fun Factory Cobra Libre 2 are excellent sex toys for a man who is unable to gain an erection as they can be used when the penis is flaccid to produce pleasurable sexual sensations.

Even though this may be a minority group, the population is getting older and living longer, therefore more older people will continue to enjoy a satisfying sex life and the healthcare profession needs to wake up to this.

At Jo Divine we believe that sexual health and sexual pleasure go hand in hand and have created a health brochure with suitable products to help people with sexual issues. Working with medical professionals, we hope to encourage patients of all ages and HCPs alike in talking more freely about sexual problems. A health issue doesn’t mean your sex life will have to stop!

Many healthcare professionals including GPs, womens health physotherapists, cancer nurses, psychosexual therapists, menopause experts and gynaecologists across the UK give out our health brochures and recommend our products and website to their patients because they recognise the benefit of a healthy pleasurable sex life and orgasms.

It would be great if talking about sex with patients became the norm, it is one aspect of health that is overlooked or dismissed by many HCPs who avoid offering any suitable advice due to their own embarrassment or lack of knowledge. Sex is rarely covered in medical/nursing training including my own nursing training which is why I write practical advice HCPs can recommend to their patients.

Samantha spoke to Emma Barnett at BBC5Live on 10th August 2017 about how many older people enjoy using sex toys, including those living in residential and nursing homes, many of whom are enjoying sexual intimacy and pleasure in so many ways and beyond penetration

Useful websites

Terrance Higgins Trust : www.tht.org.uk
Sophia Forum :www.sophiaforum.net
NAZ : www.naz.org.uk
Sexual Health Association: www.sexualadviceassociation.co.uk
British Association for Sexual Health and HIV : www.bashh.org
NHS One You Sexual Health :www.nhs.uk/oneyou/sexual-health
Faculty of Sexual and Reproductive Health : www.fsrh.org
Brook :www.brook.org.uk
Family Planning Association:www.fpa.org.uk
Royal College of General Practitioners :www.rcgp.org.uk

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