By Tomlin Paul
As part of your plans for good health and living better in the 50s, you must consider your sexual fitness. Do you still have it? Think of the three Ps: the push, the performance and the pleasure. What's happening with these as you get older? If part of your retirement plan puts sex in a dim light, then you should think again. There is no expiry date on your sexuality and you must work to maintain a healthy sexual perspective throughout your lifetime.
The push or the drive for sex is not totally tied to age. Your nature or that instinctive drive for sex falls off a bit with declining hormone levels, but how you see yourself and the status of your relationship also affects your drive. After 50, women may enjoy sex more as they stop worrying about pregnancy. However, changes in body shape and size may make you feel less sexually desirable.
There are some issues affecting performance as you get into the 50s. Men may notice a need for more stimulation to achieve and maintain an erection and they may also see shorter orgasms with less forceful ejaculations and less semen. In addition, the erection may not be as strong, and a longer time may be needed to get another erection. Women may experience dryness and less sensation of the vagina as oestrogen levels decline. Dryness is bad news for sex! However, this can be dealt with by using a water-based lubricant (ask your pharmacist for help) or your doctor can prescribe a hormonal cream.
The pleasure of sex is tied to the relationship and your feelings for that person, your perception of the whole event and your feelings in general. In other words, a lot of it goes on in your brain. The limbic lobe of your brain is where things are happening to make sure you feel that pleasure. Although sexual function may decline with age, your overall satisfaction does not have to change much if you are in a committed relationship. Outside of that, you might feel that you need to be constantly searching for the elusive pleasures of your youth!
Here are some tips to keep you up and running in the 50s and beyond.
Keep physically fit - regular exercise and healthy eating. Overall fitness improves the push and the performance.
Work on your relationship - talk, hug, compliment each other and do things together (other than sex!). Your push and pleasure will improve.
Regular sex in the right context can improve all of the three Ps - the more you have sex, the more you will enjoy it.
Be careful! Sexually transmitted infections including HIV do not respect age. Protect yourself and get tested.
Get your check-ups and ensure that disease conditions (especially diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol) are under control - they can make you lose the three Ps if they are not properly managed.
Dr Tomlin Paul is a family physician at Health Plus Associates in Kingston; email: firstname.lastname@example.org.