Sex Ed in Bed
Sex is timeless
By Jallen Rix, Ed.D. (c).

“The clock is ticking!” “Bit by bit our libido is trickling away.” “Oh, to be young again.” “If I don’t get a partner soon, I never will find one.” “Plastic surgery will give you back your youth.” On and on and on the messages pour into our ears and into our beliefs. Our confrontation with mortality and the fear of growing old can keep us chasing after youth. And in our capitalistic, push-button, instant gratification society, there are so many ways to keep up the chase, we could quite literally spend the rest of our lives doing it. What’s not being said — what we’re buying into is the underlying message, “Old is undesirable.” Granted, though it’s part of life, observing your body grow old and gradually run its course, is not easy. The myth is that sexuality wanes with age, too.

However, well known sexual studies show otherwise. The Kinsey Report showed that back in the 1930’s and 40’s more than one-third of people over the age of seventy masturbated to orgasm. In the Hite Reports on male and female sexuality, half the men over fifty gave oral sex, and half the women over fifty receive oral sex. This hardly sounds like sex is waning in the golden years.

Of course, there are sexual changes to our bodies that occur as we mature. Men mainly experience changes in our reflexes. Our erections may have less stamina and are more sensitive to distractions. Ejaculations may pack a slightly lesser punch. But these are all small changes and for some, their libido increases through the years. It’s really hard to predict. Furthermore, it’s not at all clear how much age is the cause, as opposed to a decline in fitness. Paul Joannides, author of the excellent, Guide it Getting It On, says, “It’s being out of shape, rather than increasing age, that often causes the couch-potato penis and a decline in libido.” Most importantly, these changes are surmountable in the context of expanding your exploration and enjoyment of sexuality.

It’s these myths we perpetuate that create far more interference in sex lives than our biological changes. Because sex still suffers the stigma of being a “private matter,” all of us are set to grow right into another sexual closet. And the aging population is there now. They’re caught between being a silent and sexless person or speaking up and being labeled the “dirty old man.” Talk about damned if you do and damned if you don’t! This is just the beginning of the trouble. After a life-partner dies, many aren’t given the kind of support to mourn and begin again. And don’t get me started on the troubles for those of us who need assisted living. There’s not enough space in this column to list out all the neglect and challenges our youth-centric society has created that all of us face in our future. In the Book, Sexuality: Nursing Assessment and Intervention, the authors, Siemens and Brandzel believe “The most sexually disenfranchised members of our society are the permanent residents of nursing homes.”

There’s also a somewhat desperate aspect to this myth that hints at as you get older you either have to “use it or lose it.” Sexologist Marty Klein, in his book, Ask Me Anything, believes, “This expression arose in the sixties as a way of giving middle-aged (and older) people permission to be sexual. It was based on research showing that the best predictors of sexual activity and satisfaction in old age include activity and satisfaction when younger, and an enthusiastic, positive sexual attitude.”

Of course the myth is a trap because we’re then afraid and unwilling to evolve into more sexually enriched beings. What it doesn’t account for is that we have the potential to better ourselves despite the obstacles. Indeed, as time goes by, experience and wisdom can be developed and enhanced giving us the opportunity to become better lovers. Hopefully, sexuality becomes more than just an outward erotic look and it encompasses the entire palette of your personality. I believe that sexuality is not “youthful” but timeless. So let every aspect of your character participate in the enjoyment of sex. After all, the truly unique thing to enjoy and offer someone else is not just your sex organs, but you as a whole — at whatever age.

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