Portrait of an elderly couple holding each other

Safe Sex Is Still Important

STDs are equal-opportunity diseases: They don’t discriminate by age. If you’re sexually active, you’re at risk for STDs. These include chlamydia, genital warts or herpes, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, syphilis, and trichomoniasis. Also, the number of older people with HIV and AIDS is growing. You should always keep up on your checkups and tests, use condoms, and keep up honest communication with your partner.

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Changing Partners

With better health, meds, and more ways to meet people, such as online, older adults can enjoy dating — and sex — at any age. But you need to stay savvy. Learn your partner’s history before you have sex of any kind. Both of you should get tested first, too. Always use a condom and water-based lubricant, which protects against sores or cuts that can raise your chances of getting a sexually transmitted disease (STD).

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Differences in Desire

Couples clash at times about sex drive — or lack of it. For women, the drop in estrogen, bowel and bladder problems, breast atrophy, or cystitis after sex can dampen desire. Men with ED or other problems might just not want to “go there.” Think about your partner’s point of view. When you talk about your feelings and needs, do it from an “I” standpoint: “I’d enjoy it if we … .” This lets you express yourself without hurting feelings.

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Why You Should Bother

Why bother, you ask? Short answer: The benefits of sex are many. Just a few reasons to keep at it (and going solo counts): It boosts your immune system, burns calories, lowers blood pressure, helps you relax, eases pain, keeps your mind sharp, and may lessen the risk of heart attack and prostate cancer. It keeps you and your partner close. It just may help you live longer. Oh, and it makes you happy.

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Different Strokes

You can be intimate and loving — and sexy, too — without intercourse. Lovemaking includes caressing, hugging, kissing, and manual or oral stimulation. Any loving or intimate expression can make your intimate life full. If you don’t have a partner, self-stimulation — aka masturbation — is a healthy, satisfying route to reap the many benefits of sex.

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Carolyn Audrey Moffatt

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