Sexuality & the Gifts of Ageing
Sexuality & the Gifts of AgeingSexuality & the Gifts of Ageing

Is it possible that our sexual expression can deepen and become more fulfilling as we age? Most people experience the opposite. However, ageing holds many secret gifts that can deepen our sexual fulfilment. As we age we become less concerned about what others think. We slow down. We become more present. All these qualities can greatly support a more fulfilling love life. All it takes is the desire for deeper awareness.

Ageing brings challenges to our sexuality. Typically, for men the main concern is impotency and premature ejaculation, whereas women often experience a loss of sexual desire as they age.

IMPOTENCY AND PREMATURE EJACULATION

In later years men often find it difficult to keep an erection for as long as they did when they were younger. Older men may find it harder not to ejaculate soon after penetration. Both of these experiences can be very disconcerting for men as they may represent a loss of manliness and social status, and may feel like a threat to their relationship. Some underlying factors that can influence sexual functioning for older men are as follows:

Stress levels. Men especially tend to take on more responsibilities at work as time progresses, and with that stress levels increase. Once

this pattern has been established it may be difficult for the body to just let go and relax, even after retirement from work.

Bad diet. Unconscious eating can become a burden to the body, which puts extra strain on our health. The genitals are a very sensitive and responsive part of the body and feel the impact of inappropriate nourishment.

Lack of exercise. Our bodies are made to be active; in modern lifestyles we do too little with them. Consequently they lose strength and flexibility more than is necessary.

Not breathing properly. Most hard-working people are hardly aware of how they breathe, and a stressful existence further contributes to shallow breathing. Deep, relaxed breathing is essential for fulfilling sex.

Suppressed sexuality. In Western society most people suppress their sexuality in some or other way.

Cellular memory. Every time a sexual and/or intimate experience is not fully embraced and accepted in the body, it is put away in the body as cellular memory. Although most people are unconscious of this happening, every traumatic or suppressed experience that you have had in your life can impact on your sexuality.

Medication. Many forms of medication have an adverse effect on a man’s sexuality. These include antidepressants such as Prozac.

Desensitising sex. If a man has practised sex in a rough and hurried way most of his life, with a focus on peak orgasm and ejaculation, this will desensitise the penis and make it much harder to maintain an erection.

Sexuality & the Gifts of Ageing

LOSS OF SEXUAL DESIRE

Loss of sexual desire is more common among women, especially post-menopausal women. Some of the reasons why ageing can be accompanied by a loss of sexual desire are as follows:

Biological changes. With menopause hormonal levels change, and with them the body’s biological response to sex.

Giving birth. Giving birth can have a significant effect on a woman’s sexuality. Sometimes the process of giving birth leaves wounds and scars in the uterus and vagina. This can make sexual intercourse painful or uncomfortable.

Child rearing. Raising a child or children is a highly energy-intensive task for a woman. It is often only after children have left home that women feel they can breathe again and look at what they want in terms of their own sexuality.

Unpleasant sex. Many women put up with sex that is not deeply satisfying. A woman’s body wants to be loved, stroked and adored. Rushed sexual encounters, particularly penetration without natural vaginal lubrication, are very unpleasant for a woman.

Violations. If a woman’s body has been sexually violated at any point, the memory of this experience will stay in her cells – particularly in her vagina – until they are brought to consciousness in the body. This can result in normal sexual experience being painful and unpleasant. The woman’s sexual partner may be blissfully unaware of this, since women become masters at pleasing their men. Later in life something in a woman may insist that she stop doing what has always felt like a betrayal of her own body.

Body image. The stereotypical image of the ‘sexy woman’ in our culture does not lend appreciation to the beauty of older women. It takes a strong inner awareness for a woman to appreciate her own beauty when she ages. If a woman regards herself as unattractive, she is likely to shut down sexually.

Sexuality & the Gifts of Ageing

ENJOYING SEXUAL BLISS

The first step towards more fulfilling sexuality in later years is to adopt a healthy, life-supporting lifestyle. Here are some suggestions.

Develop body consciousness

The more you love your body, the more present you are in your skin, the more blissful sex will become for you. Take up regular exercise such as long walks. Change your diet to one that includes plenty of vegetables and whole grains. Look at your stress levels and cut out activities that do not support your wellbeing.

Strengthen the pelvic floor

Women especially can benefit greatly from strengthening the pelvic floor muscles. Fascia lose elasticity over time. This is inevitable. Specific life events, like pregnancy and childbirth, can further undermine this supportive structure due to stretching. Hormonal changes can result in rapid deterioration (menopause). You can strengthen the pelvic floor – and also help it to relax – by contracting and relaxing the muscles you use to withhold and release urine. For more on this technique, see www.pelvicfunction.co.za

Address hormonal imbalance

After menopause women’s hormonal functioning changes. This can result in a lack of libido, and also in chronic vaginal dryness and sensitivity. Explore natural ways to restore your hormonal balance. Use the best lubrication jelly you can get for lovemaking if you are dry. But never have intercourse if you do not feel like it! Also, consider the impact on your libido of any medication you may be taking, and try to find alternatives that do not interfere with your sexual flow.

Address old sexual repressions and wounds

Find ways to address desires and fears that you still hold in the area of sexuality.

CONSCIOUS LOVEMAKING FOR OLDER PEOPLE

If you change the way you relate to your partner sexually you may find that sexual juices start to flow in new ways. Here are some suggestions for ways of making love that can work beautifully in later years of life.

Light, soft, full-body touch. Make a date with your partner to explore conscious lovemaking. Take turns to caress each other gently. The person who receives focuses on two things: deepening their breathing in a relaxed way, and enjoying the sensations of the touch. Become completely passive, receptive. If you are the person who gives the touch, do so with all your love, devotion and attention. Touch lightly, almost like a feather running all over the body – from the insteps of the feet to the tips of the fingers.

Breathing together. Lie next to your partner, belly to belly. Intertwine legs and embrace as is comfortable. I suggest putting your left hand on the back of your partner behind the heart, and the right hand on the lower part of his/her spine. Now start to breathe into your belly. Breathe deeply, and stay relaxed. Relax your chest especially. If you are both breathing into your bellies, you will feel each other’s bellies as they expand. After a while alternate breathing. When your partner breathes out, you breathe in. When s/he breathes in, you breathe out. Enjoy the pleasant sensation of bellies rising and falling.

Soft penetration. Penetration when the penis is soft can be a lovely and healing experience for both partners. You can help each other with this. If lubrication is needed, apply. Take the flaccid penis between your fingers. Open first the outer labia, and start to insert the penis. Then slowly, as the woman’s body responds, open the inner labia and insert the penis in deeper. Use fingers to take the penis in as far as is comfortable, and then just rest together. Now concentrate on feeling the subtle feelings that occur in the skin contact between the penis and vagina. Don’t try to do anything or go anywhere. Just feel. As feeling deepens, so will the body’s response.

Slow movement. Once both partners are ready, you can start to move slowly – the slower the better – gradually taking the penis deeper into the vagina, retracting it slowly, going deeper, slowly.

CONCLUSION

In conclusion, it is possible that your sexuality can enter a new flowering in later years of life. What it takes is attention to lifestyle and commitment to practising conscious intimacy.

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