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Intercourse And Older Couples

Western Producer October 10, 1991

Q: I love my husband very much. I'm sure he loves me. We are both in our early sixties and have a serious sexual problem. He has an insatiable desire for sex. I just can't handle it. We're not having much success in trying to cope with this problem. I feel that I'm a very unsatisfactory wife. I've also had health problems and surgery, which affect my ability to satisfy his sexual desires. How can I divert these desires of his, particularly when they occur so often?

A: Physical and sexual closeness is an important part of marriage, but is far from being the most important part. Sexual activity doesn't need to disappear in the senior years. It can continue to be a pleasurable experience for both partners, providing they become aware of, and adapt to some of the normal processes of aging.

Older men generally need more time to become stimulated. Their erection is often not as firm as when younger, and it may take them longer to climax. Some older men have an increased emotional need for intercourse, that may be related to several factors:

  1. They may be trying to compensate for some of the normal changes of aging;
  2. If they haven't shared their emotions freely with their partner in the past, an increased sexual desire may be their indirect way of asking to be cared for emotionally.
  3. They may be trying to deny some of their anxieties about aging, by proving to themselves, that they're as good sexually as they were when younger.

Women may experience sensitivity or discomfort during intercourse in their older years, mainly caused by the thinning of the lining of the vagina, due to hormone changes from menopause. If so, they can discuss this with their doctor.

Because of slowdown in climax for some older men, and increased irritation experienced by some older women, couples may want to explore ways, other than intercourse, to experience or to prolong sexual excitement and stimulation.

Since a sexual relationship is such a personal and intimate part of a marriage, it's difficult for some couples to talk to anyone about it. Yet, sensitive and understanding persons, such as pastors, physicians, public health nurses and counselors, are available to talk to in most communities, with complete privacy and confidentiality. Most larger cities have counselors who specialize in sexual problems, and it's easy to be referred to them.

Men generally focus more on physical aspects of sexual intimacy. To them, sex means having intercourse. Women usually focus more on the emotional aspects of sexual intimacy. Being hugged or snuggling in bed can be just as satisfactory as intercourse, for some women. And, this is where many problems begin! Many men see intercourse as their way of being reassured of their partner's love. But, for many women, their physical enjoyment from intercourse decreases, the more they feel themselves pressured into having sex.

Tell your husband how you feel. Get his reaction to the ideas I've shared. Talk to someone in your town, with whom you feel comfortable, and you know will treat what you share with total confidence. Ask a doctor of a counselor for a referral to someone who specialized in sexual counseling. Within Saskatchewan, I recommend Dr. W. and Mrs. C. Chernenkoff, sexual and marriage counselors in Saskatoon.