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Maintaining a healthy love life at any age
February is the month of love. With Valentine’s Day celebrations, images of young love are everywhere – but what about older love? After all, the need for love, human touch and a healthy sex life are important throughout our entire lifespan.
Sexual health educator and consultant Jane Langton of ajuicylife.com is out to dispel the myths around seniors and sexuality.
“There is no expiry on our need for intimacy, sexuality, companionship, friendship,” she says.
Langton conducts workshops for older adults that foster frank and open discussion. She provides information about safe sex, how to stay fit and how to deal with some of the common problems seniors encounter.
She gives clients an opportunity to speak candidly about a subject not normally discussed and encourages seniors to enjoy every stage that comes along in their lives.
According to Health Canada, the majority of people between 64 and 75 said they were sexually active and rated intimacy as an important part of their lives.
Many report that their sex lives have improved since they no longer contend with the fear of unwanted pregnancy. Also, once adult children have moved out of the family home, couples enjoy more privacy and time for themselves.
A lively love life has tangible health benefits: sex burns calories and releases endorphins which can reduce pain and anxiety. It has been found to boost the body’s immune response and to increase the production of sex hormones. It may also lower the risk of prostate cancer and heart attack.
Non-profit health resource helpguide.org has some practical advice for maintaining a satisfying love life:
Talk to your partner about your concerns, needs and preferences.
Regular exercise does more than keep muscles toned. It promotes circulation and maintains strength and flexibility. Exercise can also make us feel more desirable, which can contribute to confidence in the bedroom.
Don’t wait until you’re in the mood
Like any healthy habit, the more you practice, the better you’ll feel —which may actually boost your sex drive.
Try something new
If you need some inspiration don’t be afraid to do a little browsing through an adult love shop. Two such shops are In the Mood and Love Nest, both in the Lonsdale area. Both stock games, toys, body paint, lingerie, books, and many other items that can inspire creativity. Staff are friendly and helpful. Art of Loving, in Vancouver, offers seminars on topics such as Creative Kissing and Better Sex Yoga, which sell out well in advance.
Don’t take yourself too seriously.
“Humour plays a huge part in our ability to enjoy intimacy because we have to be able to laugh at ourselves and laugh at the things that aren’t working,” says Langton. She stresses that it’s still important to see a health provider to check out any new physical changes or problems.
While seniors can enjoy an exciting love life, some may not be thinking about sexually transmitted infections. Luckily, resources exist for seniors to find out about safe sex. Options for Sexual Health, formerly Planned Parenthood, optionsforsexualhealth.org, has been offering information and education for many years and promises that if you talk to them “it won’t get weird” — reassuring even for the older set.
Options for Sexual Health operates several clinics on the North Shore. To book an appointment or to ask a question, call them at 1-800-SEX-SENSE. The website smartsexsource.com created by the BC Centre for Disease Control is also an excellent source of information on sexually transmitted infections.
It’s true that our bodies at age 70 are not quite the same as they were at 20; the key is to accept those changes and to let go of expectations. Like any change in life, it’s a chance to learn and be open to new experiences.
Josie Padro, contributor