Let’s talk about sex
SEX isn’t just for the young. It’s something that even the elderly can enjoy up to their 70s and 80s.
Just because your children and grandchildren think you’re too old for it is no reason for you to stop enjoying sex … and love and life.
Sex is important throughout our lives, says consultant clinical andrologist Dr Mohd Ismail Mohd Tambi. As an andrologist, he deals with male health, particularly the reproductive system, but he also gets couples visiting him to discuss their sexual issues.
According to him, some time ago, the National Population and Family Development Board did a survey to find out whether sex is important after 50. About 95% of respondents said yes, but quite a number of them came up with excuses when asked if they were having enough sex.
A lot said that old people should take it easy and that it’s ridiculous to try to be sexually active at this age.
Feel good factor
Dr Ismail believes that the more important takeaway from that survey is that 95% said sex is important after 50.
“Studies show that when you have sex, you feel wanted and needed … you feel comforted,” he says.
Sex, he informs, is not just about achieving orgasm. It’s also about intimacy, touching your loved one, which usually gets the heart pumping hard, the respiration goes up and there is a lot of interaction in the organs of the body.
“You feel good because a lot of things are happening in your body and if you happen to climax you get all these chemical substances which are released into your system which make you feel happy, sedated, you feel wanted, you improve your heart rate, with all the various hormones that come out into your system that relax your muscles and joints, and you feel glorified and young all of a sudden.
“There is a lot of goodness from having sex,” says Dr Ismail.
Talk about it
For senior couples, sex also helps improve communication, bonding and intimacy.
This is one form of communication where you don’t have to really talk, says Dr Ismail.
“It’s love in action. Communication in action. The way you touch your partner, the way you caress your partner, the care you take, the time you take … it’s like time stops and you’re enjoying every moment of it,” he adds.
He encourages seniors to talk about sex. They need to tell their partner if they enjoyed it, or what they didn’t enjoy. Don’t let it become a routine because then it becomes a chore.
“Communication on sex is good. If you think things are not good, talk about it, tell your partner, seek the answers and avenues. Don’t run away from it but try to address it.
“If there is no communication in this area, how can you resolve the matter? You can’t resolve the matter. You will die with it.
“Sex is important, for sure. You always need to compare notes with your partner – how important is it, how often can you do it, when can you do it …. Basically, there’s no hard and fast rule. Even not doing it and just talking about it can be pleasurable – you can talk about the good old days, the fun you had. Not only is sex fun; talking about sex can be fun, too. And, listening to others talk about sex also can be fun.
“Communication can be beautiful and communication about sex between you and your partner can be fantastic. You don’t really need to do it. Talk about what you have done and how much fun you had. It’s enough to bring all the excitement in you,” he says.
Heart of the issue
Dr Ismail informs that sex for those with heart problems is not an issue.
Your partner may have had heart problems before, but they have been given treatment and recovered. If they are now able to do light work, then they are able to have sex.
For example, if a person can climb up the stairs without difficulty, that means he can have sexual intercourse and penetrative sex, says Dr Ismail.
“Sex is not really hard work, depending on who is taking on the dominant role. If he is having this medical condition but his heart problem is more or less resolved, I don’t see any reason why he shouldn’t make love to his partner.
“Most of the time it’s the partner who is scared to make love to the heart patient, thinking that the whole process might trigger another attack, which is very unlikely.
“The frustration and sadness can be even worse for the patient because he wants to make love and vent out his sexual feelings and there’s no way for him to vent out. He will get frustrated, upset and stressed out, and that might probably trigger a heart attack rather than doing it,” informs Dr Ismail.
Alternative ways of making love
Getting to the crux of the matter, Dr Ismail highlights that many think they can no longer participate in the act of making love.
For many seniors, sex can only be done one way, that is with penetration. They are not aware of ways to please their partner without penetration, that is by stimulating the sensitive areas of the body.
“As far as non-penetrative sex is concerned, it’s really very simple. After all, our skin is the largest organ in our body and some parts of the skin are very, very sensitive. These areas are loaded with a lot of nerves, especially in the genital area. For both the men and women, the breast area is very sensitive, not to mention the other parts of the body like the neck and back. Rubbing, kneading and touching those areas can give some pleasant feelings especially when one is without clothes on and lying on each other.
“Or if you feel weak and can’t do much movement, probably your partner who is a little bit stronger and able-bodied will do most of the active work,” advises Dr Ismail.
He informs that for the man, the tip of the penis is most sensitive and for the woman it is the clitoris and the outer part of the vulva.
“What do you really want in sex? A majority of the guys I meet together with their partner only talk about penetrative sex. For them sex is penetrative. When you talk about non-penetrative sex, it’s like a big puzzle to them. They wonder what the heck that is. When I explain to them, they look at each other and wonder if they can do this kind of thing.
“We really need to change that mindset because all the while they have been taught to do things one way and they never realised that there are also alternative ways.
“I also educate them with regards to non-penetrative sex. That needs openness and some amount of skill for them to practise. Once they get the skill they will find that doing it will be pleasurable and there is no coercion between both of them and they know there are no limitations to intimacy. You just need to do what you think you can do or if you want to go beyond that, you need the skills,” says Dr Ismail.
He informs that after a certain age senior citizens should be aware what they can and can’t do. Naturally, kamasutra positions become impossible. Hence, senior citizens should just attempt to do what they can.
They should also remember what they are doing and why they are doing it.
At this age, sex is not about proving anything or attempting acrobatics. It’s about doing something that is enjoyable to you and your partner.
“Do what you can do, what you enjoy and not just you, but both of you. It’s not about you doing it because you want pleasure for yourself and your partner is just your toy. It’s not like that.
“If you look at it from a different way – what can you do to give pleasure to your partner? If she knows what she wants, she can tell you and you can work on it together.
“This is like a lifestyle. If you start on the right footing, everything will be on the right footing. Both of you must really work together. It’s not one person working at trying to make the other person toe the line. That won’t work. Both must work together and co-operate,” says Dr Ismail.