Sexual desires increase with age

Sexuality beyond the age of 65 : "Yes, the desire remains"

Mr. Beier, critics see a stigmatization of old people in the term “age sexuality”. Much more often, however, there is no talk about sex in old age. And younger people believe that sexual needs disappear with age. Do men and women aged 65 and over still have sex?

Yes. Around a third of them still have sexual intercourse in partnerships. However, with falling coitus frequency. But it is not advisable to reduce sexuality to sexual intercourse. Physical closeness and tenderness are important sources of satisfaction. Intimacy is just as important to old people as it is to young people. In old age, however, the likelihood of no partner increases, especially for women, because men have a lower life expectancy.

So the desire remains?

No doubt. Studies show that only a few elderly people have completely lost sexuality. This proportion falls even further if an expanded understanding of intimacy is used as a basis. This is understandable because we humans are programmed to bond and closeness, acceptance, security and security are basic needs.

Conversely, not a few people, especially women, associate negative things with sexuality, for example when they were victims of sexual trauma in the past. Confidence in the success of relationships can then be shaken into old age.

Some feel too old for sex?

Restrictions in sexual functions very often play a role. This is the norm with increasing age. The aging man needs more intense stimulation for erection, the rigidity is usually less, everything takes longer. This also applies to women: the vagina loses its ability to stretch, the blood circulation becomes weaker, and it takes longer for it to become moist. In addition, there may be complaints from pelvic floor weakness and uterine subsidence. Loss of urine during sex can also lead to feelings of shame.

Do the partners then withdraw disappointed from each other?

It becomes difficult when they don't talk about fears. Men often believe that they are of little use to their partner without an erection. Some resort to erection-promoting medication, sometimes without consulting their partner.

Men can visit prostitutes relatively easily.

Men who visit brothels are also often frustrated - they want to be loved and accepted because of themselves. The social resource partnership remains central in old age. On the other hand, as I said, there is another difference between the sexes in old age: Since the life expectancy of women is higher on average, they are more often without partners. A senior is sometimes really courted there.

What about agencies that place masseuses in homes? Some offer the women to undress or to cuddle with the residents.

As long as there are no unrealistic expectations associated with this, i.e. it is clear to the customer that this will not result in a relationship, there is nothing to be said against it. It is no substitute for an intimate partnership.

What other problems are there?

Chronic diseases are more common due to increasing life expectancy. By involving partners, psychosocial resources could be used much more effectively for those affected. For example with Parkinson's: Here, sexual desire is often increased by drugs, which can lead to serious stress for the partnerships.

Medicine should try to find solutions here just as it does with dementia. People with dementia lose self-control. Some people undress and suddenly stand naked in the room. Sometimes only male carers can be allowed into the room. Or pulse-suppressing drugs are necessary. By the way, there are also women who pull caregivers over and try to kiss.

What has to change in general?

The understanding of sexuality needs to be broadened. How satisfied people are with their sexual relationships is not limited to achieving erections and orgasms. This is a caricature that could keep old people from making contact. Society and the health system should correct this and encourage the use of all possibilities of intimate proximity.

So doctors and nurses could advise patients and nursing home residents to meet other people?

Age is not a one-dimensional process of degradation, but is characterized by opportunities for development. A successful intimate life stabilizes emotionally and thus promotes overall health. I also say that to the budding doctors in my lectures.

The interview was conducted by Hannes Heine. Klaus Beier heads the Institute for Sexology and Sexual Medicine at the Charité.

More articles on the topic of “getting older” in the magazine “Tagesspiegel GESUND” No. 8, available in the Tagesspiegel shop, www.tagesspiegel.de/shop, Tel. 29021-520

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