Sexuality and cancer

The need for intimacy is ageless

March 26, 2018 Word for Word Media 0Comment

Sex is a powerful emotional experience and improves general health and well-being. Though, if you’re over the age of 60, sex can present challenges. Nonetheless, it’s possible, with better understanding and an open mind, for couples to have a physically and emotionally fulfilling sex life.

Natural changes

Naturally, sex might be different  when you’re 70 or 80 than when you’re twenty something. Your body has changed and your sexual functioning might not be the same.

On the other hand, as an older adult, you may feel wiser than you were in your youth, and know what works best for you in the bedroom. There might be more self-confidence and self-awareness. And, with children grown and work less demanding, couples are better able to relax and relish one another.

Avoiding sex

For a number of reasons, many people worry about sex in their later years and may avoid it altogether. For some, their aging bodies are the problem, or the impact of cancer on their body image or performance during sex becomes an issue.

There is much you can do to compensate for the normal changes  that come with aging. With proper information and support, your autumn years can be an exciting time to explore both the emotional and sensual aspects of your sexuality.

Benefits of a healthy sex life

  • Improves mental and physical well-being because it causes the brain to release endorphins (the feel-good hormone) and many other neurochemicals.
  • Reduces anxiety.
  • It’s also said to increase your lifespan through its health-improving benefits.
  • Creates intimacy and connectedness.


So, how do you relax and enjoy? Let go of expectations, accept the older you, have a positive attitude and an open mind. Remember though, you need to be just as careful as younger people when having sex with a new partner. You’re just as susceptible to sexually transmitted diseases. Talk to your partner, and practice safe sex.

Focus on intimacy, sensuality and physical touch. Even if you have health problems or physical disabilities, you can still engage in intimate acts and benefit from closeness. It’s not about intercourse and penetration, it’s about sensuality and there are many sexual alternatives to satisfy each other.

Illnesses that affect sexual function

Keep in mind that anything that affects your general health and well-being can also affect your sexual function. High blood pressure, diabetes, hormonal problems, depression, or anxiety can affect sex drive and function.

Certain medications also inhibit  sexual response, including your desire for sex, your ability to become aroused and your orgasmic function.

No matter what your age, losing your desire for intimacy and touch altogether isn’t normal. In fact, it might be a sign of a medical problem that can be addressed. If something is getting in the way of your desire or ability to have a good sex life, seek professional help from a sexologist.

Sexual to do list:

  • Take time to relax, spend time on foreplay, and focus on non-sexual physical touch in general.
  • Try sexual positions that you both find comfortable and pleasurable. For men with erectile dysfunction, try sex with the woman on top, as hardness is less important. 
  • Vaginal dryness will become an issue for older women. Use a good silicone-based lubricant. Visit a sexologist’s website to find a good quality lubricant. 
  • Sexual aids, such as a vibrator or penis ring, can assist greatly for men to last longer and for women to reach orgasm quicker. 
  • The more sex you have, the more you’ll want to have sex. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Get back at it and your sex drive should increase naturally. 
  • Speaking openly about sex may not come easily to you, but improving your communication will help both of you to feel closer, and can make sex more pleasurable.
  • If you have problems with getting or maintaining an erection, or you find it difficult to reach orgasm, or experience any pain with penetration, you should consult a sexologist.
  • Men over the age of 50 should have a prostate check-up every year as well as have their testosterone levels checked every year.
Dr Elmari Mulder Craig grey

MEET OUR EXPERT – Dr Elmari Mulder Craig

Dr Elmari Mulder Craig is an European Federation of Sexology (EFS) and European Society for Sexual Medicine (ESSM): European Certified Psycho-Sexologist (ECPS), and relationship expert. She is also past president of The Southern African Sexual Health Association.

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