Sexual health and aging: Keep the passion alive

You just got home from a romantic dinner with your partner. You have candles burning in the bedroom and soft music playing in the background. When it’s time to get intimate, though, you realize you’re not quite ready.

It’s stressful, but it’s also normal for your body and your libido to change as you get older.
Not all changes are bad, or a sign that something’s wrong with you. Almost half the men out there have some sexual issues in their 40s and 50s.
Men are just less likely to talk about it.
Sexual health is important at any age. And the desire for intimacy is timeless. While sex may not be the same as it was in the 20s, it can still be very fulfilling. Discovering which aspects of sexual health are likely to change with age, often helps you and your partner adapt.
You may not get aroused as fast as you used to. Or you may need more foreplay to get aroused. You might lose your erection sooner, too, sometimes before you climax. These issues are called erectile dysfunction that becomes more common with age.
Often, that’s because there’s less blood flow to the nether region. Or your body might be making less of the hormone testosterone. Health conditions like diabetes, depression, heart disease, and high blood pressure also increase the odds of getting ED. Sometimes the medications you take to treat them also cause problems.
Many men over 40 notice that their orgasms are weaker. They might have less fluid when they ejaculate, too. Changes in your body that come with age are probably to blame. Weak pelvic floor muscles, for example, can cause trouble with ejaculation.
A lagging libido can be frustrating. After years of wanting sex all the time, some men say the lack of interest feels like losing an important part of who they are.
Testosterone plays a critical role in a man’s sexual experience. Testosterone levels vary greatly among men. In general, however, older men tend to have lower testosterone levels than do younger men. Testosterone levels gradually decline throughout adulthood — about 1 percent each year after age 30 on average.
As a man ages, arousal may be a problem and erections may not be as firm. It may take longer to achieve full arousal and to have orgasmic and ejaculatory experiences. Erectile dysfunction also becomes more common.
Why does this happen? Lower levels of testosterone “can dampen desire. But that’s not the only reason. As you get older, life stressors like money, kids, and career pressure can make it more difficult to get and stay interested in sex, so can medications, alcohol, depression, and major illnesses.
As women approach menopause, estrogen levels decrease, which may lead to vaginal dryness and slower sexual arousal. Emotional changes are somewhat more common in women. While some women may enjoy sex more without worrying about pregnancy, naturally occurring changes in body shape and size may cause others to feel less sexually desirable.
Any condition that affects general health and well-being may also affect sexual health. Illnesses that involve the cardiovascular system, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, hormonal problems, depression or anxiety—and the medications used to treat these conditions—can pose challenges to being sexually active. High blood pressure, for instance, can affect your ability to become aroused, as can certain medications used to treat high blood pressure.
In addition, any surgical procedure that affects the pelvis and central nervous system may have significant impact on sexual response. The body, however, is resilient. Given time to heal and some loving attention, most people can often become sexually responsive again.
Certain medications can inhibit sexual response, including desire for sex and your body’s ability to become aroused or have an orgasm. If you think you are experiencing sexual side effects from a medication, consult your doctor.
Many couples want to know how to get back to the sexual arousal and activity levels they experienced in their 20s, 30s and early 40s. Instead, find ways to optimize your body’s response for sexual experiences now. Ask yourselves what’s satisfying and mutually acceptable.
Find ways to relax
The more stressed you are, the less likely you are to think about sex—and thinking about it can get you in the mood. Stress hormones close up your blood vessels. That can add to ED.
Get moving
Active men have fewer sexual problems. Exercise boosts blood flow throughout your body. It also staves off depression, heart disease, stress, and other problems that can zap your sex life.
Do Kegels
You may think of Kegels as exercises for women, but men should do them, too. They strengthen your pelvic floor muscles, which are “crucial” for sex, Siegel says.
To do one, tighten and hold the muscles that control your flow of urine for about five seconds. Then relax them. Do at least two to three sets of 10 a day.
Make good health a goal
You might have sleep problems and gain weight as you get older. Both can lead to lower testosterone levels. These can also affect your desire and ability to have sex. Eat healthy food and get enough shut-eye to help yourself in and out of the sack.
To maintain a satisfying sex life, talk with your partner. Set aside time to be sensual and sexual together. When you’re spending intimate time with your partner, share your thoughts about lovemaking. Help your partner understand what you want from him or her. Be honest about what you’re experiencing physically and emotionally.

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