The Star (St. Lucia) - Life Begins 2 Nite - - CONTENTS - www.ev­ery­day­ By Den­nis Thomp­son Jr. | Med­i­cally re­viewed by Pat F. Bass III, MD, MPH

Sex­ual plea­sure and in­ter­est in sex does not de­crease with age for many peo­ple. Older men and women can en­joy in­ti­macy and plea­sure through sex, as well as reaf­firm their shared feel­ings of warmth, love, and af­fec­tion. There are even some ad­van­tages to sex at an older age. Women no longer have to worry about be­com­ing preg­nant. Love­mak­ing be­comes a more in­ti­mate, sen­sual, and pro­longed ex­pe­ri­ence.

How­ever, our bod­ies do change as we grow older, and cou­ples may ex­pe­ri­ence some dif­fi­cul­ties in their sex lives. Among th­ese are erec­tile dys­func­tion, vagi­nal dryness, and low li­bido. For­tu­nately, there are ways to re­lieve each prob­lem.

Sex and Ag­ing: Vagi­nal Dryness

Arousal is very com­plex in women and, as they age, women may find that they are not pro­duc­ing enough lu­bri­ca­tion to en­sure com­fort­able sex. Vagi­nal dryness is most of­ten caused by de­creas­ing lev­els of es­tro­gen, par­tic­u­larly af­ter menopause. A re­duc­tion in lu­bri­ca­tion can cause the vagina to be­come less elas­tic. That, com­bined with fric­tion, can make sex un­com­fort­able.

There are two main ways to deal with vagi­nal dryness. The rem­edy that you choose will de­pend on your life­style and your health his­tory: • Lu­bri­cants. Adding ar­ti­fi­cial lu­bri­ca­tion is the most di­rect rem­edy for vagi­nal dryness. • Hor­monal ther­apy. To ad­dress the core is­sue, women might con­sider us­ing es­tro­gen creams or tak­ing es­tro­gen tablets. How­ever, con­cerns have been raised that hor­mone ther­apy can in­crease a woman's risk of breast can­cer, heart dis­ease, and stroke. You should con­sult with your doc­tor be­fore pro­ceed­ing with hor­mone ther­apy as a rem­edy for vagi­nal dryness.

Sex and Ag­ing: Erec­tile Dysf unc­tion

Erec­tile dys­func­tion is the lead­ing sex­ual prob­lem for older men. Some are un­able to achieve and main­tain an erec­tion. Oth­ers take longer to achieve erec­tion, or their erec­tions tend to be softer and less full. When they ejac­u­late, it is with de­creased force. There are var­i­ous body changes that con­spire to cause erec­tile dys­func­tion, in­clud­ing: • Re­duced testos­terone lev­els • De­creased blood flow to the pe­nis • Im­paired nerve func­tion • Erec­tile tis­sue that has be­come less elas­tic over time

How­ever, the lead­ing causes of erec­tile dys­func­tion are health prob­lems, with heart dis­ease, high blood pres­sure, and di­a­betes head­ing the list. Men who have gone through prostate can­cer surgery also may have dif­fi­culty achiev­ing an erec­tion.

The best way to avoid erec­tile dys­func­tion as you grow older is to live a healthy life­style. Ex­er­cise reg­u­larly, eat a healthy diet, main­tain a good weight, quit bad habits like smok­ing or drink­ing, and you'll greatly re­duce your chances of erec­tile dys­func­tion. Men who do ex­pe­ri­ence erec­tile dys­func­tion have var­i­ous op­tions, in­clud­ing:

• Med­i­ca­tions. Drugs like Silde­nafil (Vi­a­gra), var­de­nafil (Le­vi­tra), and tadalafil (Cialis) have rev­o­lu­tion­ized erec­tile dys­func­tion treat­ment. They work by widen­ing the blood ves­sels in­side the pe­nis, mak­ing a strong erec­tion eas­ier to achieve.

• Pe­nile injection. Men who don't re­spond well to those drugs might con­sider med­i­ca­tions that are in­jected di­rectly into the pe­nis to help achieve erec­tion. A tiny nee­dle is used. This tech­nique works bet­ter for men with more se­ri­ous health prob­lems like di­a­betes.

• Me­chan­i­cal devices. Vac­uum pumps and pe­nile bands can help older men achieve or main­tain a good erec­tion.

• Sur­gi­cal im­plants. Men who aren’t helped by any of th­ese tech­niques may want to con­sider surgery. Im­plants can be in­serted that ei­ther keep the pe­nis per­ma­nently erect or al­low it to be in­flated through the use of a pump lo­cated in the scro­tum.

Sex and Ag­ing: Low Li­bido

Many peo­ple sim­ply lose their sex­ual urge as they get older or they may find it wan­ing. Nu­mer­ous prob­lems re­lated to ag­ing can cre­ate low li­bido, in­clud­ing:

• Chronic health prob­lems, like heart dis­ease or di­a­betes

• Emo­tional prob­lems such as de­pres­sion or anx­i­ety

• A re­duc­tion in the sex hor­mone lev­els in the body

• Med­i­ca­tions you may be tak­ing for a health prob­lem

A per­son with low li­bido should speak to a med­i­cal pro­fes­sional. Your doc­tor may be able to switch you to a med­i­ca­tion that doesn't af­fect sex drive or help di­ag­nose a health prob­lem caus­ing your lack of sex­ual in­ter­est.

Sex is a won­der­ful ex­pe­ri­ence that can be shared and en­joyed through­out your life. Don't as­sume that sex­ual ac­tiv­ity must slow down just be­cause you're get­ting older. Ad­dress the ef­fects of age, and keep en­joy­ing in­ti­macy.

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