One of my first jobs as an exercise physiologist was at the City of Sunnyvale’s Senior Center here in California. At my first day of work, I had to explain to a group of 65+ year olds, who I had never met before, that the City was doing free sexually transmitted infection screening due to an outbreak of STDs/STIs in the over 60 age group.
I honestly wasn’t sure the reaction I was going to get.
I ended up spending over an hour answering questions about sex and about how condoms were important and whilst the women no longer had to worry about getting pregnant, safe sex was still a must.
It turned out to be a pivotal moment in my overall career as a health and wellness advocate.
Information on sex & sexual health for those over the age of 40 was and is almost non-existent.
There is as much misconception and misinformation. It is like if you survived teenage sex, the world just leaves you alone. Since you did “it”, it is assumed that you will keep doing it until you stop. And when you stop, most conversations to discuss sexual concerns or disfunction with doctors usually end up with “well, it is to be expected at your age.” What does that really mean?
For the rest of my tenure at the Senior Center, I learned everything I could about middle aged and senior sexuality and sexual health because each week, I would be asked questions. If I didn’t know the answer, I would go out and learn more; from manufactures, to researchers, to open minded individuals who wanted to explore the topic.
Fast forward a decade or so and I am now one of these “old people”. And I am still having the same conversations and discussions I was back then but now with my friends. It appalls me that there is still such a lack for information and support. My friend Jane said, “you should talk about it more publicly because you still look like you are having sex.” We ended up laughing but it really stuck with me.
So, I have decided to take that leap. Let’s talk about sex and libido through menopause and andropause. Let’s talk about sex after hysterectomies and surgeries and replacements. Let’s talk about sex and stress and adrenal fatigue. Let’s talk about medication and its effect on sexual function and desire. Let’s talk about all the supplements, medications and devices on the market that is suppose to be a panacea. Let’s talk about old people sex because us old people should still be having a robust, healthy sex life. We just need to be a little bit more thoughtful about it.