By Neil Lackey, RFMT, BESTCO
As a teenager, I didn’t want to think that being sexual was anything my parents, or even worse, my grandparents might think about, much less do. Now, in mid-life I heartily agree with Wendy Maltz who says, “Healthy sexuality can last a life-time.” It is true that expressing ourselves sexually will likely change for most of us as we age.
Physiologically, for example, the blood level of testosterone, the “desire hormone” in both males and females does decrease gradually as we age. Healthy sexuality, regardless of age, involves accurate information about what’s going on physiologically (anything that influences blood circulation can affect sexual responsiveness), developing positive attitudes (really letting yourself experience and appreciate pleasurable sensation), accessing alternatives that fit our unique situation, (enjoyment can continue even with physical or physiological limitations) and engaging new behaviours we can use as needed.
Often, the first change of behaviour toward increasing healthy experiences of sexuality is to confront, and hopefully overcome, our own embarrassment about communicating our sexual concerns. This “embarrassed isolation” may bring experiences of frustration, even pain, as well as missed opportunities for pleasure.We each have an important responsibility to our own sexual health to identify and then give ourselves permission to act upon and obtain what we need to enhance our comfort in being sexual. Let’s not rule out “self pleasuring” (masturbation) as a potentially important kind of touch, and not only for those who may no longer have access to an intimate partner.
All of us recognize that change is constantly occurring, so it should be no surprise that even life-long partners will need to re-negotiate their sexual expressions in order to maintain a healthy sexuality. Healthy sexuality involves growing in knowledge of our personal sexual boundaries and enjoying healthy touch throughout all the ages and stages of our lives. Consulting a Registered Sex Therapist is one resource available for those wanting to increase their experience of healthy sexuality.