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BEACON Senior News - Western Colorado

To better sex! Low libido? Examine your diet and lifestyle

Feb 25, 2022 10:56AM ● By Wendell Fowler

Sexual intimacy among older adults is a subject people don’t talk about much. Especially around the grandkids. There’s a widespread misconception that seniors lose interest. Ooh-la-la, au contraire.

Unclench, please! We’re all adults. Don’t get uptight and mentally censor, or deem sinful, urges that come naturally. 

survey by the University of Michigan and AARP found 40 percent of people ages 65-80 are sexually active. Nearly 72 percent of individuals in that age range have a romantic partner and of those, 54 percent are sexually active. More than half of those surveyed also reported that sex and intimacy is important to their quality of life. 

“Sex and sexual health among older adults doesn’t get much attention, but is linked closely to quality of life, health and wellbeing,” said Erica Solway, University of Michigan’s co-associate director of the poll. 

While some seniors may give up strenuous sports, sex is a physical pleasure many older people readily enjoy. 

Look into your libido

“There’s no age limit on sexuality and sexual activity,” reported Stephanie A. Sanders, PhD, associate director of the Kinsey Institute Sexual Research Group. “However, sex hormones testosterone and estrogen decline with age, but these changes affect everyone differently.”

Other than faded love or physical infirmities, there’s mixed information why sex drive decreases as we age. Both biological and psychological factors affect sexuality. 

According to the National Institute on Aging, naturally occurring changes in body shape and size may change some people’s desire for sexual relations, as can medication side effects. Having chronic health conditions doesn’t help matters either. If you don’t feel well, you’re not going to be thinking about sex. Talk to a doctor about it. Many causes for decreased libido are treatable.

Most sexual health hitches can be improved through plant-based nutrition, regular exercise and medical help. Foods high in omega-3 help the body’s nervous system, neurological functioning and enhance circulation which aids sexual function. Salmon, tuna, trout, walnuts, almonds, macadamia nuts, hazelnuts, pecans, chia and flax seed are wonderful for overall health and sex life. 

Foods rich in L-Arginine: sugar-free granola, oatmeal (not instant), dairy, green vegetables, root vegetables, garlic, ginseng, chickpeas, onions, whole grains, eggs, dark chocolate and beans, also increase circulation. Avocados are sexually potent foods high in antioxidants, potassium, and vitamin B6, which promotes blood flow. 

Additionally, excessive alcohol can dull sexual desire, decrease arousal and sensitivity, and may lower inhibitions leading to unsafe decisions and deceive some into thinking they’re Casanova doppelgangers. 

STDs are on the rise

When it comes to sexually transmitted disease (STDs), age doesn’t protect anyone. 

“We assume seniors know about safe sex, but many don’t,” said Jennifer FitzPatrick, MSW, LCSW-C. “Seniors who are sexually active outside of a committed relationship should use condoms.” 

Recent data from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that among all age groups, rates of STDs are going up, and the greatest rise appears to be among seniors. An analysis by Athenahealth showed in-office treatments for chlamydia, herpes simplex, hepatitis- B, trichomoniasis, gonorrhea and syphilis were up 23 percent from 2014 to 2017. Treatment for these same diseases rose by 11 percent in younger age groups.

Keep love alive

A Duke University study showed that some 20 percent of people over 65 have sex lives that are better than ever before. 

Geriatrics expert Walter M. Bortz, author of three books on healthy aging as well as several studies on seniors’ sexuality said, “If you stay interested, stay healthy, stay off medications, and have a good mate, then you can have good sex all the way to the end of life.” 

Rather than assuming desire is lost, examine diet and lifestyle. Forking over big bucks for a pill is like paying for sex. 

Prepare a quixotic supper at home where you can create a romantic setting with music, flickering candles, and mindfully prepared, easy-to-digest food using healthy ingredients. Perhaps, consider intimacy before dining. 

Regardless, keep love alive from wedding day to everyday with healthy intimacy from the fountain of love, sweet love—the ultimate aphrodisiac.