Tips For A Healthy Sex Life As You Age, According To Dr. Ruth

If you've ever watched the movies "Our Souls at Night," "Book Club," or "This is Where I Leave You," you may have wondered what sex would look like as you age. Movies have a way of depicting intimacy among older couples as something awkward, funny, or embarrassing, but German-American sex therapist and talk show host Dr. Ruth Westheimer, better known as Dr. Ruth, wants you to know that it doesn't have to be. 

"There are common perceptions about older people held by the general public, even among senior citizens themselves that are just not true," explained Dr. Ruth to Life Extension. "One of these is that older people aren't sexy. This is rubbish." The host of the 1980s radio show "Sexually Speaking" and Holocaust survivor thinks that people can continue to enjoy healthy sex lives right into their 90s; you don't have to stop having sex just because you're older. 

She does, however, think that people have to understand and accept their aging bodies and how they're different in terms of sexual function when compared to their more youthful years. Telling yourself that you can't have or enjoy intimacy because your body looks and functions differently is like refusing to wear spectacles because you can't see or avoiding buttoning your trousers because they don't fit you anymore, shared Dr. Ruth in her book "Sex for Dummies." Get reading glasses, get a new pair of pants, and relearn what works for your body. 

Erectile dysfunction doesn't have to mean the end of sex

The biggest concern Dr. Ruth has come across when it comes to sex as you age has to do with erectile dysfunction (ED), she told Life Extension. But what men need to know about their sexual health as they age is that ED could be a result of something physical or psychological, and medication doesn't always have to be the first course of action. From feeling unattractive and bruised egos to just plain embarrassment, a lot of things might be at play. "There are many men who have a problem that is not physical at all, rather it's psychological. I think the pills can be wonderful if a man is the right candidate for them, but they may not be necessary."

That being said, it is important to address any physical reasons why erection is a problem, added Dr. Ruth. Prostate issues, heart disease, high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, sleep disorders, certain medications, depression, smoking, alcohol use, and chronic sleep conditions can all be to blame. ED is most common between ages 40 and 70, and symptoms include difficulty getting and maintaining an erection, requiring a lot of stimulation to get aroused, and a complete lack of erection. 

If stimulation is the concern, asking your significant other to touch you to help with an erection doesn't have to be embarrassing, according to Dr. Ruth (via Dummies). "Instead of being ashamed, let yourself get carried away by it, learn to enjoy it, and work it into being a pleasant part of foreplay." 

Learn to work with menopause

For women, the concern is how menopause might affect their sex drive, according to Dr. Ruth (via Dummies). From plummeting estrogen levels and vaginal dryness to trouble having an orgasm, menopause changes a woman's body over time. 

The author of "Sex After 50: Revving Up the Romance, Passion, and Excitement!" shared that you can turn to lubricants as an alternative to enjoy intimacy. And if sex is causing discomfort because of shrinking tissues in your nether regions, having more of it can help, according to the sex therapist, per Life Extension. Regular sex helps keep your vaginal tissues thick and moist and the sex pleasurable. "The more women engage in sex, the less severe the symptoms of menopause related to good sexual functioning will be," added Dr. Ruth.  

And when it comes to orgasms, both women and men need to understand that this particular response to intimacy diminishes as you age, per the expert (via The Washington Post). The key is to try not to be nostalgic about what used to be and make the most of what is now. "Engage in sex in the morning, when the testosterone level is highest and after a good night sleep for her. Have a little breakfast, hang the phone off the hook, go back into bed," explained Dr. Ruth.