5 ways to enjoy a longer sex life

Conventional wisdom holds that a woman’s sexual activity and interest ebb exponentially as she ages. Yet a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that fully 43 percent of the nearly 2,000 45- to 80-year-olds in the study reported that their interest in or desire to have sex was “moderate to very high.”

To make sure yours stays that way, we consulted Debby Herbenick, PhD, author of "Because It Feels Good: A Woman’s Guide to Sexual Pleasure and Satisfaction." Here are her tips for women and men who desire a long and active and fulfilling sex life:

1. Protect your heart

Love shape hands against natural background.

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Conventional wisdom holds that a woman’s sexual activity and interest ebb exponentially as she ages. Yet a study published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society found that fully 43 percent of the nearly 2,000 45- to 80-year-olds in the study reported that their interest in or desire to have sex was “moderate to very high.”

2. Stay flexible

A multi-ethnic group of senior adults are taking an outdoor yoga class at the park. They are sitting in the grass and stretching to increase flexibility and reduce injury.

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Make stretching part of your heart-healthy exercise regimen (like these doorway stretches that'll un-slouch your back). "If you don't maintain your flexibility with regular stretching, you may find your sexual positions limited by inflexibility—and the pleasure-killing pain that can come with it—as you age," warns Herbenick.

3. Expand your pillow talk

Shot of a mature couple relaxing in bed with breakfast

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In other words, be explicit, and use 30-second love plays for a better sex life. Make it a point to talk about your sex life with your partner, including the words for the relevant body parts (like penis, vagina, clitoris, or whatever words you're most comfortable using) and sex acts (such as oral sex, vaginal sex, fantasies, and even dirty talk). If you and your partner can talk openly, it will be easy to work through the speed bumps that inevitably arise.

4. Get to know your own body

Cropped shot of a senior couple embracing in their bedroom

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You may need to experiment a bit to find out what makes it easier for you to experience sexual pleasure or orgasm. Herbenick recommends using your hands or a sex toy such as a vibrator to explore your own body and identify, specifically, what types of touch or stimulation feel good (just follow our guide to green and eco-friendly foreplay). Then consider showing your partner, literally, by pleasuring yourself in front of him or her--and inviting your partner to do the same. 

5. Stay close emotionally

I love you. Happy young woman is covering female eyes with surprise and giving her a heart card. They are sitting on bed and smiling

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If you do, says Herbenick, it will help you physically, as well. "As they age, men and women often have difficulties with sexual desire, arousal, lubrication, or erections, but they still maintain a high level of sexual satisfaction," she says. "This is, in part, because both men and women tend to pay more attention to the emotional aspects of sex as they age." If you attend to the emotional matters, the physical consequences of aging will have less of an impact. 

This article originally appeared on Rodale Wellness