Just as exercise is the key to maintaining fitness, having sex on a regular basis is the best way to maintain sexual capacity.
And just as it s never too late start an exercise program, it s never too late to start having sex. Many older people who have been celibate for years develop satisfying sexual practices within new loving relationships. For others, self-stimulation (masturbation) is common and poses no health risks or side effects.
Here are some additional considerations:
To enhance sexual response, use more foreplay and direct contact with sexual organs.
Colostomies, mastectomies, and other procedures that involve changes in physical appearance need not put an end to sexual pleasure. Communicating openly about your fears and expectations can bring you and your partner closer together and help you overcome barriers. If necessary, counseling for both of you can help you adjust.
If sex has become uncomfortable because of vaginal dryness, try a water-based vaginal lubricant such as Astroglide, K-Y Jelly, or Replens to reduce the irritation. Do not use petroleum jelly. A doctor can also prescribe a vaginal cream containing estrogen, which will help reverse the changes in the vaginal tissues.
The mind is an erogenous zone. Fantasy and imagination help arouse some people. Try setting the mood with candlelight and soft music, or whatever else 'turns you on.'
Many medications, especially high blood pressure medications, tranquilizers, and some heart medications, inhibit sexual response. Ask your doctor about these side effects. Your doctor may be able to reduce your dosage or prescribe different medications. Do not stop taking prescription medications without consulting your doctor first.
People who have heart conditions can enjoy full, satisfying sex lives. Most doctors recommend that you abstain from sex for only a brief time following a heart attack. If you have angina, ask your doctor about taking nitroglycerin before you have sex. Do not take sildenafil citrate (Viagra) if you are using nitroglycerin.
If arthritis keeps you from enjoying sex, experiment with different positions. Try placing cushions under the hips. Also try home treatment for arthritis pain. For more information, see the topic Osteoarthritis.
Drink alcohol only in moderation. Small amounts may heighten sexual responsiveness by lowering inhibitions. Larger amounts may actually decrease sexual performance.
Prescription medications that enhance the sexual response, such as sildenafil citrate (Viagra) for men and testosterone for women, are available. Some people find that herbs such as ginkgo biloba and ginseng enhance their sexual function. Both prescription and herbal remedies carry the risk of side effects.
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