Health + Wellness

Sex in the Senior Years: Why It’s Key to Overall Health

sex life

Lovemaking isn’t just for the young — older people gain a lot of satisfaction from amorous relations as well. sex life

But things get complicated as people age, and many folks let this important part of life drift away rather than talk about sexual problems with either their partner or their doctor, experts say.

“Not many people talk about sex with their doctors, especially as we age,” says Alexis Bender, an assistant professor of geriatrics with the Emory University School of Medicine, in Atlanta. “So many people do report sexual dysfunction on surveys, but they don’t when they’re talking to their doctors. And so it’s important to have those conversations with primary care physicians.”

The benefits of a healthy sex life

It’s worth discussing. A healthy sex life brings many benefits to seniors, experts say.

Sex has been linked to heart health, as well as overall mental and physical health. “It’s definitely an association, and it’s positive,” Bender adds.

For example, lots of beneficial biochemicals are released by the body during sex, HealthDay medical correspondent Dr. Robin Miller says. These include DHEA, a hormone that helps with cognitive function, and oxytocin, another hormone that plays a role in social bonding, affection and intimacy.

“Having sex is a really important part of overall health and happiness, and people that have it, they live longer,” says Miller, a practicing physician with Triune Integrative Medicine in Medford, Ore.

Sex can actually get better as you get older, Miller adds.

“For instance, for men, they can control their ejaculation better as they get older,” Miller shares. “Women aren’t worried about pregnancy once they go through menopause, so they’re freer.”

RELATED: 5 Ways to Spice up Your Sex Life

Battling age-related sexual complications

Unfortunately, aging does complicate matters a bit when it comes to sex, Bender notes.

“For both men and women, we see changes in physical health such as diabetes or cardiac conditions that might limit desire or ability to have

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