Is Sex Healthy for Seniors?

Is sex healthy for seniors? Yes! There are many physical and emotional benefits to seniors having sex—from feeling more connected with your partner to alleviating stress. Although for some generations, talking about sex openly is a taboo topic, the fact is you can—and you should!—feel confident in having a healthy, rewarding, and empowering sex life at any age.

Intimacy is ageless, and as an older adult, you might find the experience of senior sex quite different. You may feel more at home in your body, more connected to your sexuality, and perhaps less self-conscious about how your body looks.

Plus, your senior years are often a period of life when you’re enjoying quality time spent with your partner and relaxing together. With your children grown—and your work no longer taking up hours and hours of mental capacity—you might find that your sexual experiences feel more intimate and expressive.

Whether you’re looking to restart your sex life in your senior years or searching for more information on how to maintain your health, keep reading for our favorite tips on healthy senior sex.

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Health Benefits of Sex for Seniors

Sex over 60 years of age has many important health benefits for seniors—from improving mental and physical health to providing you with a beautiful space to connect with your partner.

And the research proves this: One study found that sexuality in the elderly was directly correlated with greater enjoyment of life. Sexual activity and the feeling of being emotionally close to one’s partner were both cited as part of the reason for the greater engagement with life. Another study found a growing percentage of senior citizens who remain sexually active into their golden years—and see their sexuality as a positive force in their life. All of this research underscores the fact that sex is healthy for seniors.

However, older adults who experienced sexual problems or had concerns about their sex life reported lower levels of overall life enjoyment. All of this research shows that engaging in discussions and conversations about sex—both with your partner and your medical practitioner—can be very helpful.

Physiological Benefits

Wondering how sex is healthy for seniors? Sex for older couples has a number of physiological benefits—from getting a dopamine hit to simply serving as an enjoyable form of exercise for seniors.

  • Sex and dopamine. During orgasm, your body releases dopamine—which is related to pleasure and part of your body’s natural chemistry. For sexuality in older adults, this can be a positive benefit.
  • Sex and oxytocin. Having sex as a senior increases levels of oxytocin in your body, which helps boost positive feelings of attachment, bond, and trust with you and your partner.
  • Sex and testosterone. Sex also increases testosterone levels in both men and women—and studies find that having frequent sex as a younger man appears to protect them from prostate cancer later in life. For women, higher testosterone levels are connected with preventing chronic cystitis, eventual prolapse, and incontinence.
  • Sex and exercise. As a general rule, exercise is considered good for our health—and as a senior, exercise takes on even more importance. Exercise and movement are related to better moods and improved overall health—and sex in your senior years fits the bill.

Psychological Benefits

The psychological benefits of sex do not diminish with age. In fact, sexual expression is recognized as an important tool in maintaining close relationships, improving self-esteem, and contributing to overall well-being. If you’ve wondered if sex is healthy for seniors, here are some of the top psychological health benefits.

  • Sex and positivity. Sexual behavior is associated with happiness in older adults. One study found that greater positive feelings and satisfaction with life were associated with sexual activity and physical tenderness.
  • Sex and self-esteem. No matter how old you are, senior love-making can boost self-esteem and self-worth—and when you’re in your senior years, this can be even more special.
  • Sex and marriage. Particularly for seniors in long-term marriages, senior intercourse can help sustain your marriage. One study found that in couples over the age of 50 who had been married for at least 20 years, barriers to sexual behaviors were of minimal importance as long as physical intimacy continued. This research serves to underscore the importance of sexual activity as a senior—and the plethora of positive benefits that can occur as a result.
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Is Oral Sex Healthy for Seniors?

If you’re wondering if oral sex is healthy for seniors, that’s a great question—and the answer is yes! Oral sex is healthy and common for seniors.

In fact, for heterosexual, cis-gender, sexually active senior citizens, broadening your definition of what sex is can be empowering and open new opportunities for exploration.

However, with age, some men experience erectile dysfunction (ED) and women may experience pain with penetrative vaginal intercourse. Fortunately, having oral sex can be a great strategy for older couples to enjoy fulfilling sex lives.

Many seniors today engage in oral sex. One survey found that 35 percent of surveyed seniors over the age of 70 years old reported that they have oral sex “often” or “very often,” a fact that might come as a surprise to some.

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Risks of Senior Sex

Senior sexuality and aging can lead to an increased risk. Although sex is healthy for seniors, having sex in your golden years can result in an increased concern for many men: Heart attacks. Many older adults with heart disease become less sexually active or even stop having sex entirely out of fear that having sex will trigger a heart attack.

Fortunately, the chances of dying from sexual activity are quite rare: According to a study, for every 10,000 people who have sex once a week, only two or three will experience another heart attack—and the risk of death is extremely low.

If you’ve faced heart problems in the past, here are a few options for seniors and sex:

  • Improve your overall fitness levels. Depending on the severity of your heart attack and your overall health and well-being, consider a cardiac rehabilitation program to improve your fitness and feel stronger. As a general rule of thumb, if you’re able to exercise and work up a light sweat—without any heart symptoms—then you’re likely able to have sex without complications.
  • Do you suffer from advanced heart failure, severe valve disease, uncontrolled arrhythmia, unstable angina, or severe heart disease? If so, consult with your doctor before you have sex to make sure you’re safe. And if you’re a heart attack survivor, it’s always best to talk with your doctor before engaging in any sexual activity.
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Common Problems with Senior Sex

Many sexually active senior citizens may face common problems, such as arthritis, chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, incontinence, medication, and body changes.

  • Arthritis. Joint pain and arthritis can make sexual experiences uncomfortable or unenjoyable. However, don’t worry: There are a number of steps you can take to reduce the pain. Exercise, drugs, rest, or warm baths can help alleviate pain—and if you’re having sex over 60 years of age, discuss new positions with your partner to help you enjoy yourself more.
  • Chronic pain. If you’re dealing with chronic pain, it can cause a number of symptoms that make sex and intimacy much less pleasurable. You may feel exhausted, tired, or overwhelmed by the thought of engaging in sex. Chronic pain doesn’t have to be a requirement of aging, however. With the right treatment protocol, you can alleviate chronic pain and feel stronger.
  • Diabetes. Diabetes can cause erectile dysfunction in men, which can result in physical challenges and psychological frustration and embarrassment. In many cases, finding the right medication can help support your sexual activity. For others, diabetes may be correlated to yeast infections, causing itching or irritation.
  • Heart disease. Having sex in your senior years with heart disease is not only potentially nerve-wracking—but you may also experience physical changes. Victims of heart disease often experience the narrowing and hardening of arteries, which changes the overall structure of the blood vessels. For some sexually active seniors, it might take longer to feel arousal, to have and maintain an erection, or difficult to orgasm.
  • Incontinence. Incontinence is very common with age. You may lose control of your bladder and leak urine from time to time. If you’re a sexually active senior suffering from incontinence, it can be helped by changing positions or simply emptying your bladder entirely before sex. There are also medical treatments available to help treat incontinence.
  • Medications. As you age, you might find yourself taking more medications—and some of these medications might have side effects that impact your sexual desire and your overall energy. From ED and difficulty ejaculating to reduced sexual interest and vaginal dryness, medications can cause many symptoms that interfere with having sex over 65. If you’re experiencing any of these side effects, have a conversation with your doctor to determine other solutions.
  • Body changes. Our bodies change as we age—it’s that simple. Remember that it’s entirely normal for you and your partner to have different sexual abilities and interests. Try to not compare your sexual activity to your younger years. Instead, embrace how you’re feeling in this time and explore new opportunities to enjoy sexual contact and intimacy.
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Tips for Healthy Sex for Seniors

In the following sections, we’ll provide tips on sex for senior citizens to ensure that your sex is safe, healthy, and contributes to your overall well-being. If you’re wondering how to stay sexually active after 60, keep reading for our favorite tips for healthy senior sex.

Understand Your Body’s Needs and Changes

During your senior years, there are many changes to the body that might impact your sexual abilities or your performance in bed—and this is 100% natural! As you age, your body undergoes a number of changes. Your sexual ability may change. Your sexual interests may shift. This is all to be expected.

As you enter your golden years, explore new opportunities to enjoy sexual contact and intimacy. You might want to have senior intercourse less often and swap that out for another form of sexual activity. Going through this might bring up certain feelings and emotions. Take your time processing these feelings and working to accept your new normal.

Communicate With Your Partner

With any sexual experience, communication is key. If you’re a sexually active senior, it’s incredibly important to understand your own boundaries as well as your partner’s. Your bodies have changed with age, so it is both helpful and empowering to communicate your desires, your thoughts, your insecurities, and your fears with one another.

If speaking about sex feels awkward or uncomfortable to you, that’s okay—try to continue having these conversations with your partner. In doing so, you’ll both feel more connected and safe with one another.

Use Protection

Although sex is healthy for seniors, it’s important to still use protection. Despite the non-existent risk of pregnancy, using protection is critical as it helps reduce your risk of sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) or sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Older people who are sexually active may be at risk for chlamydia, genital herpes, genital warts, gonorrhea, syphilis, or trichomoniasis.

Sexually active seniors can also be at risk of contracting HIV if you or your partner has had more than one sexual partner or if you are having unprotected sex.

As you explore all the health benefits of sex for senior citizens, make sure you protect yourself as much as possible. During vaginal or anal sex, use a condom. During oral sex, use a dental dam or another barrier method.

You can also talk with your doctor about getting tested for STDs or STIs to confirm you’re in good health and provide you with peace of mind.

Talk to Your Doctor

To determine if sex is healthy for you as a senior—and before engaging in any new sexual experiences—we recommend talking to your doctor. Your healthcare practitioner can be a wealth of knowledge when it comes to navigating sexual wellness and simultaneously reaping the health benefits of sex for seniors.

  • Understand the risk of STDs. Talk with your doctor about common STDs or STIs that impact seniors and how to stay safe. It can be helpful to discuss protective devices, such as condoms, or get tested for STDs to ensure you’re safe.
  • Explore medication options. If you’re struggling with any performance issues with this, whether it be ED or vaginal dryness, your doctor can help with medication options. Additionally, many seniors find themselves experiencing sexual challenges as a side effect of different medications—so if you believe you’re experiencing a side effect of your medication and it’s interfering with your sexual activity, talk with your doctor about another option.
  • Make sure you’re healthy. Having sex as a senior requires good physical health. If you’ve suffered any sort of severe health problem in your later years and feel apprehensive about your safety and ability to have sex, consult your healthcare provider. Depending on your overall health, they’ll either give you the green light or they’ll suggest alternative therapies to boost your strength and health before having sex again.
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