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How does aging affect sexual health?

How Aging People Can Have an Ageless Sex Life
Keeping it romantic
Keeping it romantic

Just because you qualify for senior citizen discounts doesn't mean that you have to settle for less in the bedroom. The most important things you can do to charge your sexual batteries are free. The first thing to do is communicate with your partner. While this is easier said than done, letting your partner know what you need is vital to any healthy sexual relationship. It can also help curtail little problems before they become big issues. For example, if you're having a hard time getting aroused, it's important to let your partner know that it's not because you're not attracted to him or her -- that would only lead to further hurt, rejection and resentment down the line. You may only need a little more time and stimulation to get going. If there's an issue between you and your partner, such as financial difficulties or problems with your children, that could also be the culprit.

It may seem impossible not to fall victim to negative thoughts about your sexual abilities or your physical appearance as you age, but it's important to stay positive about sex. One way to boost your confidence is with regular exercise. You'll feel better about yourself and likely look better, too. Additionally, aging can slow your blood flow to the very regions that need it most during sexual intercourse, so getting your blood pumping can get your libido pumping as well.

If you do need some aids in the bedroom, there's an entire marketplace waiting to help you. Erectile dysfunction aids include prescription drugs, such as Viagra, Levitra and Cialis, penile injections and mechanical devices. Women may require lubricants. Both men and women may want to talk about hormone replacement therapy with their doctors. However, it's worth noting that in some studies, hormone replacement has been linked with increased risk of heart attack, stroke and cancer, among other side effects [sources: Harvard, Brody].

If nothing is working, you might consider seeing a sex therapist or a doctor. Sexual problems often go untreated because people are too embarrassed to bring them up with a professional, particularly as they enter advanced age. Just remember not to compete with your 20-year-old self; sex will be different from what it was back in the old days. But accepting that sex is different may give you more license to play and experiment. And while it's great not to have to worry about birth control, you still need to practice safe sex if you have multiple partners.

Before you head into the bedroom with a special friend, see more stories about issues related to aging on the next page.