After socially isolating for more than a year, people of all ages are thinking about dating again.
With age comes wisdom. The older you get, the more you come to know and love yourself. You understand that life is no longer all about finishing the race, but more about enjoying it. You have experience with your body’s needs, and you know what to ask for. You’re comfortable with the person you’ve become, and you’re ready to share that with someone new.
But whether you’re 28 or 82, being sexually active with new partners may bring concerns. Here, we cover a few important basics on safer sex for seniors.
There are many positives to having a full sex life as a senior. We're sure you can think of some pros on your own, but we thought we'd list out a few.
Many people over 60 face increased loneliness and isolation, with families that may be distant and loved ones who may have passed away. Dating or building a relationship with a new partner can contribute to a person’s quality of life, and sex can be an intimate and fulfilling part of that.
It’s important to stay active as a senior. Sex is one way to get your body moving. (However, if a health condition or another issue limits mobility, you may want to talk to your doctor about what’s safe — and you’ll definitely want to talk to your partner about your limits.)
Outside of intercourse, spending time with a partner on walks, engaging in other physical activities, and even foreplay can all increase your physical activity and build intimacy.
For cisgender women especially, frequent orgasms in older age can lead to better pelvic health and even reduce the likelihood of future incontinence.
While mentally you may be in the right place to be sexually intimate with a new partner, It’s important to remember that your body may have changed. You might need to alert your partner to issues such as arthritis, dementia, diabetes, chronic pain, or heart disease. If it has been a while since you were last sexually active, discuss concerns with a healthcare provider. And although some physical concerns may be new to you, one thing has not changed with time: the possibility of contracting a sexually transmitted infection (STI).
For everyone who is sexually active, STI protection (such as condoms) and STI screening are necessary. Keep in mind that STIs are easily spread and not always accompanied by symptoms.
And of course, COVID-19 is still a serious concern. After you’ve been vaccinated and begin socializing, be sure to talk with your partners about their risk factors, so you can protect yourself from infection and avoid spreading the virus.
A societal taboo around sex among senior citizens has led to a lot of misinformation. We’re going to bust a few myths associated with sex after 60.
In fact, everyone is different. Just like younger people, people over 60 have varying levels of desire. Some people do have a lower sex drive later in life — and are content with that. A lower libido can be seen as a natural part of aging.
But if its onset is sudden, if it persists for a long time, or if the issue is intermittent but keeps recurring, low libido may be a symptom of an underlying health concern.
If you experience drastic changes in libido or if you’re unhappy with how you are experiencing sexual desire, talk with your doctor. Low libido can be caused by prescribed medications or treatable conditions. At any time of life, talking frankly with your healthcare provider about your sex life will help them form a more complete picture of your health. (Feeling uncomfortable about bringing up this topic? Read “How to Discuss ‘Embarrassing’ Topics with Your Doctor.”)
While ED (erectile dysfunction, or the inability to have an erection) does happen, it does not have to keep you or your partner from sexual pleasure. There are other ways to be intimate; however, if ED is something you want to address, it’s important to talk to your doctor — especially before taking supplements that promise a cure. (Many ED “supplements” that you might find online or at a gas station cash register are not only ineffective but also potentially hazardous to your health.)
Many people have reported that the older they’ve gotten, the more explorative and creative they and their partners have gotten in their sexuality. Time can help you to be more open and less self-conscious of your well-loved body. You know what to look for in a partner and you are less likely to spend time with someone you won't be compatible with.
Sexual expression is part of the human experience, and your healthcare providers should not be uncomfortable with any topics related to your health or your body. If you are sexually active (at any age), talk to your doctor about STI protection and screening. You can start by checking with your partner to make sure that they have been tested and that you agree on a form of protection from STIs.
Carbon Health’s medical content is reviewed and approved by healthcare professionals before it is published, but it is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Talk to your healthcare provider about questions you may have regarding your health or a medical condition, and before making changes to your healthcare routine.