Research on Older Adults & Sexual Health

sexual health issues A national sexual health survey, released in November 2014, examines the impact of sexual health issues on overall health, happiness, and communication among 3,015 US adults in committed relationships in which at least one partner was experiencing a sexual health issue. The study was conducted by Kelton in collaboration with the American Sexual Health Association, the Men’s Health Network, HealthWomen, and Pfizer.

“People are increasingly taking charge of their health in other areas, but that level of comfort hasn’t translated into addressing sexual health issues,” said Eli Coleman, PhD, Director, Program in Human Sexuality, Professor and Chair in Sexual Health, Department of Family Medicine and Community Health, University of Minnesota. “We see growing comfort with sex as a cultural topic, but people still aren’t talking about their own sex lives, which has important implications for their overall health and happiness.” Source

Key Study Findings

The survey included 3,015 adults aged 40-74 who are sexually active and in committed relationships where at least one partner is experiencing one or more sexual health issue. Key findings include the following:

  • 64% believe that their sex life influences their overall satisfaction with their lives; however, only 38% are satisfied with their sex lives.
  • Embarrassment and resignation prevent many from talking to their doctors (26%) about sexual health challenges they are experiencing. 37% believe that these are obstacles for their partners as well.
  • Fewer than one in four couples (24%) facing sexual health issues feel that they’re always able to be honest with their partners about their sex lives.
  • Men and women have differing priorities for improving physical intimacy. For women, priorities were improving their ability to achieve an orgasm (28% vs. 19% of men), emotional bonding with their partners (32% vs. 20%), and general enjoyment of sex (34% vs. 22%). Men are more apt to focus on their physical ability to have sex (38% vs. 22% of women) and being able to experiment (28% vs. 12%).
  • More than a third of those surveyed—aged as young as 40—are resigned to a worse sex life in 20 years, especially those who are already dissatisfied with their sex lives.

 

I wanted to share this with you because it’s so exciting to seeing scientific research applied to a) older adults and b) sexual health. We should be paying attention to research on sexual health–it’s a positive step for addressing concerns, helping normalize issues and encouraging us all to pay attention to our needs and those of our partners. Sadly only 38% of the survey population expressed satisfaction with their sex life. Clearly we have work to do.

 

Men Get Their Own Day–Steak and Blowjob Day

Let’s talk about steaks, blowjobs and gender quality—with a little wit and whimsicalness.

gender, steak and BJs, sex,

Women get roses and chocolates in February. He gets a big hunk of beef and a blowjob in March. Did you know that Saturday, March 14 has been declared as Steak and Blowjob day? I’m not sure exactly who came up with that but it had to have been a man. I don’t think it has a Hallmark card just yet, but it does have a website.

Here’s what The Urban Dictionary has to say (clearly written by a man):

Steak and BJ Day was invented by Tom Birdsey, may he live forever, and may the gods eternally bless his fate. Men everywhere should build shrines and worship this man, who has been so kind as to bless us with a day devoted entirely to devouring massive hunks of cowflesh and having one’s member gobbled. Truly, he is a saint among swine, and deserving of the highest accolades in the worlds beyond.

Seriously though, Steak and BJ Day was invented as a response to Valentine’s Day, a day in which men get the ‘privilege’ of showing their affection for their significant other by spending ludicrous amounts of time, money, and effort in showering them in gifts, dinners, shows, and various other things to show them just how special they are to us.

Isn’t it about time that there was a day just like that, but devoted to having the ladies show men just how much they appreciate them? Thanks to Steak and BJ Day, this dream has finally come true.

 

The idea is that if women get their day–which is based on the presumption that Valentine’s Day is only for women–then men should have their day. And of course we know that all men want steak. And a blowjob. Is it equality, silliness or what?

I don’t have a man right now so I may just spend Saturday night alone, having a steak and watching porn clips of women giving BJs.

So, let me just say that I find this silly on one hand…and yet, the idea of reciprocity make sense. Why do we need to relegate affection and sexual pleasure to designated days, or attach gender? I’ve railed against Valentine’s Day for several years now, here and here. Restricting a show of love to one day and setting up expectations is ridiculous. So is the idea that V-day is so women-oriented that men don’t derive pleasure from it.

If Valentine’s Day is just a one-sided event then we need to rethink the whole thing. Because implicit in this women=flowers & sweets and  men=red meat & sex is the notion of different standards for men and women when it comes to love and sex. Don’t women want sex? And, more importantly don’t men want to have their feelings and emotions recognized as well? Steak and BJ day doesn’t seem to be about emotions and tender affection—it represents testosterone-laden, caveman-style thinking.

If I were in a relationship right now I would probably fix him a nice rare steak, paired with a full-bodied red wine. That blowjob might be in the picture as well–if that was his preferred way of being pleasured. The intent is to show that we care about our partners and to show our affection and our desire. If you miss Saturday, surprise your guy one afternoon after work–fix him a drink and direct him to the sofa..unzip his pants, pull it out, and show him a little affection. Who needs holidays?

So, ladies if blowjobs aren’t your thing? Buy him a big juicy steak, put on your sexiest outfit, ply him with lots of booze and hope he falls asleep early.

Here’s another take on the Steak and BJ Day concept–with a decided feminist tone. What’s the Deal with Steak and Blow Job Day Anyway? by Feminista Jones.

 

photo credit: Almost via photopin (license)

Sex in Movies–Not Realistic From This Woman’s Point of View

If you’re looking for ideas about how to have better sex you won’t find it in mainstream movies. There are exceptions of course, but most movies are made for the average American audience and tend to adhere to the idea that sex is just about intercourse.

My latest article over at Midlife Boulevard takes a look at movie sex from the female point of view and offers some suggestions on how to get what you want when it comes to sex.

sex, female orgasm, female sexual desire

I hate to say it, but men have got it all wrong, for the most part. And, the media—the movie industry, the ‘typical’ romantic books—they make us feel inadequate when we can’t have the kind of sex they’re feeding us.

just started watching the British series, White Queen, based on a book by Philippa Gregory. It’s set in 1460s England—a lovely historical fiction with intrigue and sex. The first couple of episodes focus on the sexual attraction between the King, Edward IV, and his soon-to-be bride Elizabeth Woodville. The initial seduction scene is tender and full of sexy anticipation. And, then it isn’t. It just doesn’t work for me. They undress, they tumble on the bed, they kiss. Then he enters her, intercourse ensues and that’s all there is. The viewer sees her body arch with pleasure and they’re clearly having mutual orgasms. They are tender and sweet with each other but the sex is decidedly male focused.

Several years ago I would have been caught up in the sexiness of these scenes, but no longer. The love scenes are written from a male point of view, because we all know that the vast majority of women aren’t going to have an orgasm without any foreplay whatsoever. Men want to see themselves penetrating a woman; they want to see the woman in full enjoyment, and satisfied, by intercourse. It’s reassuring. For the man.

Women need more out of a sexual encounter. Women take longer to warm up and feel arousal—and we need touch. We need attending to.

Most sex scenes are written by men, for men. The hazy lighting, the lovely sheets on the bed—all the frills, those are for us. But the sex is exactly what men are eager for—penetration. The sex scene in The White Queen is not unlike porn sex scenes where the focus is on his pleasure. I wasn’t expecting a 1460s woman, even a widow with two kids, to speak up about her sexual needs.  After all this is a ‘period’ movie—but I realized that this kind of sexy encounter holds less appeal to me as I’ve become more in tune with what real sex looks like.

To have the kind of sex that satisfies us as women, we have to be able to speak up about what we want. Not all male partners come to our beds with the knowledge necessary to fully understand a woman, much less the nuances unique to you or me. Our sex education is not pleasure-focused. Where is a man to learn about a woman’s clitoris, or how to touch delicately here or there? They don’t. It’s our job to tell or show them. This is not an indictment of men. Women don’t learn those things either—we have to practice, explore, indulge in a little trial-and-error. We have to read and take time self-pleasuring ourselves in order to understand what turns us on. Very few women have the opportunity to have sex with an experienced man who knows all of these things.

The article is over at Midlife Boulevard in its entirety–pop over to read and be sure to tell me what you think! Thanks.

Not in the Mood for Sex?

sexual desire, arousal, sexy brain When was the last time you said, “I’m not in the mood”?

What do we mean when we say that?

  • You have no actual desire.
  • Your partner isn’t very good at pleasuring you so you avoid sex.
  • Your relationship is tense and sex is the last thing you want to think about.
  • Too much stress or physical causes are occupying your mind–keeping you from thinking about intimacy.

 

If you’re not in the mood you have a couple of options. Because remember, you get to have sex the way you want it, when you want it, and with the person you choose.

First you have to decide if you want to have sex or not. Period. You have to be responsible for your own body and your own wants and needs. When we’re hungry we make a decision about food–what we want, what might taste good and then we take steps to get what we want. Sex is a little like that. Of course you could go without sex for the rest of your life–you wouldn’t die. But you would be a less happy person. Giving it up might impact your marriage or long-term relationship and it might create vaginal health issues in the future.

I get it. I had plenty of “not in the mood” days during my marriage. Now? If sex is on the agenda, or hinted at, and I’m not feeling it–I will take some time to think about sex with that partner. My feelings towards that person, what turns me on, how he gives me pleasure and those thoughts start to get me ‘in the mood’. I take some time to prepare myself mentally and maybe physically. I feed my desire instead of leaving it all up to chance.  If I’m really uncertain I tell my partner with a conditional statement that I might be persuaded. The moment I shut down all possibility I’ve done myself a disservice. Moods change. Desire can be stoked.

Emily Nagoski talks about desire in her new book (which I’ll be reviewing soon) and this recent New York Times article, Nothing is Wrong with Your Sex Drive.

 “Desire was conceptualized as emerging more or less “spontaneously.” And some people do feel they experience desire that way. Desire first, then arousal.

But it turns out many people (perhaps especially women) often experience desire as responsive, emerging in response to, rather than in anticipation of, erotic stimulation. Arousal first, then desire.

 

We live in an intercourse-driven world of sex. Procreation assured that men’s penises would be inserted into women’s vaginas. Pleasure, if it occurred for women, was secondary to the act of procreation. Secondary to the idea that men’s desire for intercourse took precedence over all else. It may be that when we say, ‘I’m not in the mood’, it’s because we’re not having the kind of sex that satisfies, that is focused on our arousal as well as our partner’s.

Numbers vary, but most educators and researchers know that anywhere from 50-80% of women don’t have an orgasm from intercourse alone. If we want to have sex that creates desire in us… the kind of sex that leaves us feeling satisfied, the kind of sex that encourages us to create the right mood, then we need to pay more attention to the clitoris—our pleasure zone.

We still live in that world. When men say, “I have difficulty with erections so I can’t have sex anymore, they are in an “intercourse frame of mind.” Fabulous sex can be had without penetration. Men can ejaculate and women can orgasm in several other ways. Even with an unpredictable erection. And, I bet that over 70% of women (conjecture) will have a more dependable orgasm when their male partner (female couples already understand this) learns about her anatomy and considers her clitoris vital to her, and his, sexual pleasure.

Let’s expand our definition of pleasure. Start by:

  • Exploring our bodies
  • Focusing on our clitoris
  • Talking more to our partners before taking off our clothes, as we’re having sex, and then offering mutual feedback when we’re done
  • Consider your own desire as vital–don’t give up your right to pleasure in any relationship
  • Work on cultivating a sense of yourself as a sensuous, sex individual.
  • Add non-penetrative sex acts to your expression of sex: manual stimulation, use sex toys, oral sex, masturbation, cuddling

 

If you take responsibility for your own desire and begin to express what you want there will be a transformation. You will experience more pleasure when you can express and step into your desire. Your sexual relationships will become more satisfying for you and your partner. Couples who intentionally focus on their intimacy understand the power of giving and receiving.

Check out Michael Castleman’s The Most Important Sexual Statistic and It’s All About the Clitoris, Part 1 on Madame Noire.

The next time you’re ‘not in the mood’ are you willing to commit to your sexual desire and arousal?