More articles by

Dr D Narayana Reddy
Dr D Narayana Reddy


Sex after sixty

It’s pleasure, not measure

A newspaper report made interesting reading. It said: In South Korea, the candidates for legislative elections distributed erectile dysfunction drugs for elderly male voters in order to buy their vote.

This raises a few questions. Do all old men suffer from erectile dysfunction and do they all benefit from these medicines?

There is no subject in our society that is associated with more myths and misinformation than sexual intimacy and the elderly. This subject was previously considered a taboo and was relegated to derogatory humour.However, the subject has come out of the closet as a result of the pioneering work of Masters and Johnson and others. It is now a frequent topic of great concern to the millions of men who are above age 60.

Does a man develop erectile dysfunction as he ages? Some myths associated with the subject are:

Impotence is a natural consequence of ageing.

Sexual activity can be dangerous for the elderly.

Sex drive or libido diminishes with advancing years for both men and women.

None of the above is true. These myths have made it difficult for the elderly to enjoy sexual intimacy without feeling guilty or embarrassed.Back in the 70s and 80s, the baby boomers, who were then in their 20s and 30s, viewed people in their 50s as 'oldsters'. Now that these baby boomers are entering the 50s and 60s, they refuse to inherit that label. Instead, they are pushing the label of 'senior' farther into the 70s and 80s. They are doing everything possible to stay young and active—including acting young and being active sexually.

JUST SEX Illustration: Bhaskaran

Do older men and women like sex? Recent research shows that as we get older, our senses of taste, smell and sight diminish, and our capacity for strenuous activities declines. Naturally, our sexual sensations and the ability to perform sexually will modestly decline. Masters and Johnson discovered that "human sexual response may be slowed by the ageing process, but it is certainly not terminated". Several recent reports indicate that the majority of women and nearly all men from 50-80 are still interested in sex. These studies also confirm that the majority of the elderly are capable of engaging in and enjoying sex.

How do men change physically with age and how does that affect sex? In most instances, it takes longer for older men to achieve erection. What took only a few seconds to a few minutes as a 15-year-old takes 10-15 minutes in an older man. Many patients are often "cured" of impotence just by learning this important consequence of ageing.Similarly, women need to understand that men may need more physical stimulation to achieve an erection. Just as women complain that they need more foreplay, as a man gets older, he, too, needs a fair amount of foreplay to achieve an erection. Another normal change that occurs with age is the loss of orgasmic inevitability or the sensation of impending orgasm.Some older men will notice that the volume of the ejaculate decreases slightly, and the force of the ejaculate also decreases with age. The older man also loses some of the focus on orgasm. The woman should not assume that he is not enjoying the intimate experience when he does not ejaculate. Older men can achieve a great deal of pleasure from sexual intimacy and yet not have an orgasm or ejaculate.

Does this mean that an elderly man will not suffer from erectile dysfunction? Associated illnesses like arthritis, chronic back pain, dementia, diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and stroke can adversely affect his erectile ability. Certain prescription drugs and mood modulators also can be causative factors of erectile problems.So ageing alone does not cause problematic erections. Overall health—physical, emotional and relational—determines an elderly man’s sexual life. Hence, blindly taking the so called wonder drugs will not be beneficial to everyone. Great sex is the result of an excellent relationship, not the cause of it. Being a good lover is not a matter of having extra-large physical equipment. It is a matter of understanding and caring for your partner.

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Topics : #Sex | #health

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