Wellness Watch

Sex after 60 delivers healthy outcomes

Things change as you age, that’s inevitable. But what doesn’t have to change is your sexual health.

Sex is unique not only for every person and relationship, but for various points in each individual’s life. Contrary to what Miley Cyrus might believe, sex after 40, 50 and, yes, even 60 can be quite exciting.

And excitement is only one piece of the puzzle. Sex after 60 is healthy. In fact, there really is no validity to statements that suggest sex after 60 is too strenuous and should be avoided due to the risks, such as heart attack or stroke. Numerous studies have concluded that sex, especially among older adults, reduces blood pressure. One study found that diastolic pressure was lower in couples living together and engaging in regular sexual activity, including sexual acts performed alone.

Another long-term study out of Britain found that individuals who engaged in sexual activity two or more times per week had a reduced risk of heart attack compared to those who only had sex once per month. Observations of the same subjects found no correlation between sexual activity and risk of stroke.

Regular engagement in sexual activity can improve weight management and cholesterol levels. While sex is considered a low-impact activity, 30 minutes of sex can burn as many as 85 calories, and when performed regularly, it can raise HDL levels (the “good” cholesterol) by as much as 10 percent.

For men, regular sexual activity is highly beneficial in the prevention of prostate cancer. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that men who ejaculate 21 or more times per month have a reduced risk of prostate cancer, compared with men that only experience four to seven ejaculations per month. Researchers speculate that this activity “cleanses” the prostate, making the environment less inhabitable for cancer-causing agents, infection and stagnant materials that contribute to inflammation. However, a conclusive understanding of why frequent ejaculation has a protective effect remains under investigation.

In general, a healthy sex life improves multiple aspects of sustaining long-term health. These include boosting the immune system, improving sleep, reducing stress and heightening self-esteem. Sex can even be effective for pain management. Hormones released during orgasm increase your pain threshold. In women, vaginal stimulation can block lower back and chronic leg pain, while other women report self-stimulation has been effective for addressing pain associated with menstruation, arthritis and headaches.

After 60, your sex life will evolve from what it was in your 20s and 30s. Some may experience increased desire and frequency, while others may find these factors slow down. Statistically, sex in later decades of life is more fulfilling for people in long-term relationships. Intimacy and communication are part of what makes sex at this point in life better – many people relax and stop worrying about appearances or what the other person might be thinking.

Whatever changes may occur, it doesn’t mean your sex life is over. In the age of anti-aging, your sex life can be healthy and fulfilling in every decade. Caring for your health through balanced nutrition, monitoring your hormone levels, managing a healthy weight and embracing your changing body are important to sexual wellbeing in every stage of life.

Dr. Jennifer Landa is Chief Medical Officer of BodyLogicMD, the nation's largest franchise of physicians specializing in bioidentical hormone therapy. Dr. Jen spent 10 years as a traditional OB-GYN, and then became board-certified in regenerative medicine, with an emphasis on bio-identical hormones, preventative medicine and nutrition. She is the author of "The Sex Drive Solution for Women."  Learn more about her programs at www.jenlandamd.com