Sex — one of the most taboo topics in American society. I, however, would like to talk about why we should be talking more about sex, especially as we get older. There seems to be this misconception about age and sex, a ‘use it or lose it’ misconception as well as the thought process that ‘sex becomes unimportant as you age’. The truth is sex is good for you. You should continue to have sex for the same reason you should continue to exercise — it’s about taking care of yourself.

Health Benefits

– Studies have shown lower blood pressure and overall stress reduction in those having sex on a consistent basis (once or twice a week).

– Higher levels of an antibody called immunoglobulin A or IgA, which protects you from getting colds and other infections, has also been found in those with an active sex life.

– Thirty minutes of sex burns 85 calories or more. It may not sound like much, but if you think of it over a year’s time, 52 weeks could burn over 4,420 calories — enough to lose a pound or two.

– Men having sex twice or more a week reduce their risk of a fatal heart attack by half, compared with those who have sex less than once a month. Stop worrying about the efforts expended during sex leading to a stroke, because it’s just not so.

– According to numerous studies, sex boosts self-esteem. Sex often produces feelings of love and connectedness with the other person which raises your self-esteem — even if you already possess a fair amount of confidence.

– Having sex and orgasms produces what is often called the love hormone – oxytocin. A higher level of oxytocin increases the feeling of generosity, bonding and trust building. As oxytocin surges, endorphins amplify, pain declines and sleep quality improves. Thus, sex reduces pain, improves intimacy and promotes better sleep.

– Various studies have shown a link between frequent ejaculations, 21 or more a month, and the reduced risk of prostate cancer in older men.

– For women, doing a few Kegel exercises during sex not only increases the pleasure, it also minimizes the risk of incontinence later in life. It’s simple enough; just tighten the muscles of your pelvic floor, as if you’re trying to stop the flow of urine, count to three and release.

Finding What Works For You

As we age our physiology changes. We need to throw out the idea that sex equals intercourse. Intercourse should never be the goal. If it’s not working for you or if it is uncomfortable, try something different. There are a wide range of sexual enjoyments that people practice. Don’t be afraid to explore options outside of intercourse — you might even find you like other practices better.


Our inability to talk about sex is often our own worst enemy, leading to more sexual dysfunction. Realizing we are not the only ones considering being sexual is a huge first step. Whether it is to your partner, a friend or a therapist, opening up about your insecurities, likes and dislikes, and safety concerns will ultimately propel you to a healthier frame of mind. Remember, most people aren’t mind readers and bottling up your emotions is never a good idea. Don’t be embarrassed or afraid to talk about sex — you’ll feel a lot better getting your thoughts off your chest.

The bottom line — aging isn’t a disease. Sex is something you’ve most likely enjoyed with great passion and enthusiasm in the past. Aging doesn’t mean that enjoyment has to end; it should remain until your last twinkle. If you’ve lost your fire, find some matches. If you feel you’re broken, seek help to fix it. Make your life as full as you can and that includes your sex life. I seriously doubt you’ll regret it.

Carrie Robertson
Research & Community Education

Chicago Skilled Nursing
Chicago Senior Living

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