It is a myth that Australians cannot enjoy a good sex life well into later life, experts have claimed.
An inaugural international conference this week in Melbourne celebrated intimacy in ageing. Organised by Alzheimers Australia Victoria and COTA Victoria, it aimed to challenge taboos about elderly lovemaking.
One of the speakers said it was a false stereotype that only young people can have sex.
“Our culture’s idea that only young, unwrinkled hard bodies are objects of sexual desire is not true,” US-based sexual health writer Joan Price, 71, said.
The self-professed ‘sexpert’ began writing about intimacy in later life when she fell in love at 57 with a man aged 64. The sex was “in many ways” better than when she was younger, Ms Price said.
“We had the most delicious, hot sexy relationship and I thought at the time, why is this such a well kept secret?”
Older Australians are getting it on
Sex in later life is definitely happening. Australians in their 60s report having sex about once a week, the Australian Study of Health and Relationships reported in 2012-13.
And they’re having fun doing it. In fact, of those sexually active in their 60s or older, 74 per cent of men and 70 per cent of women were as satisfied or more satisfied than they were in their 40s, the US National Council on Ageing reported in 1998.
Despite this, intimacy and attraction in these age groups is still a taboo topic, a Melbourne-based psychologist said.
“What about the young couple who walk arm in arm and stop to kiss along the pier at the beach? If they stop for a passionate kiss in front of the crowd they’re lovebirds. If they’re over 60, they’re a public embarrassment,” Dr Janet Hall told The New Daily.
Society needs to be more accepting of older sexuality, she added.
“Why does society relegate people much beyond 55 to second-class sexual citizenship? Let’s have a sexual revolution for the older folk and make it not only OK, but actually wonderful, to be sexy in your 60s, 70s and indeed until rigor mortis sets in.”
It’s a good thing
All experts contacted by The New Daily agreed that an active love life is natural, healthy and beneficial, regardless of age.
Granted, there may be health complications and changes in desire, such as during menopause, that can hinder sexual performance, one expert said. But creativity can overcome most obstacles to intimacy.
“It might just mean re-conditioning how in a relationship a couple historically has sex,” University of Sydney sexual health lecturer Amanda Robb said.
“As long as both adults are consenting to a sexual relationship it can always be achieved, and enjoyed with time, communication and professional support if needed.”
The benefits are many, according to another expert.
“Not only does a healthy love life enhance your relationship but research shows sex can protect and boost your immune system, improve your physical and mental health and help you keep younger for longer,” Australian Institute of Sexual Medicine director Brett McCann said.
“As long as a person is in reasonable health and still has sexual desire there should be no expiry date on being sexual.”
Here’s how to do it
The experts interviewed by The New Daily recommended:
• Have regular check-ups with a GP;
• Communicate thoroughly with your partner;
• Be creative and romantic. For example, try adult toys and fantasy clothing;
• Consider your physical health. Pay attention to heart rate and take it slow if needed;
• Use lubricants;
• Ask a doctor for a Viagra prescription if necessary;
• Try these less strenuous positions; and
• Don’t forget to use protection to prevent transmission of infections.
– with AAP