Sexual Behavior in Later Life

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It is true that there is limited research and literature on the sex lives of those over 45. What we do know is those between 45 and 54 years of age are still having pretty regular, awesome sex. We also know that once you reach the age of 73, sexual behavior tends to drop off.

But, not always.

Such things as age, being with a partner a long time, habit, boredom, self esteem, physical health, types of medications, long term relationships – all of these factors play into how much sex we have any time in life. Biologically speaking, illness plays a large factor in sexual activity. For instance, both women and men with diabetes seem to have a much poorer sex life than counterparts who do not. Pain and decreased drive were popular reasons. Medications elicit huge side affects as far as sexual desire is concerned – drugs such as those that relieve hypertension and cancer symptoms are two of the largest culprits.

But if you are of the age where you may not know who Skrillex is or have no idea that facebook is only for old people, you may be finding you are actually having a lot more sex than studies actually imply.

Psychologically speaking, attitude has a lot to do with it. As some age, they have a mindset that romance and sex is for the young. And common sense would explain that if sexual partners are difficult to find then your opportunities for sex are lessened. If this happens, it can actually cause a state of “sexual disinterest” (p. 232) which can be construed as a coping mechanism. Those who may actually have a partner still may simply be dissatisfied and have no interest – or so they convince themselves as such.

Findings from 745 women and 639 men surveyed who were anywhere from mid 40s to 80s found that oral sex declined significantly with age and correlated to the length of time they were in a relationship.

Apparently, the longer you are with a partner, the less oral sex happens.

Bummer.

Illness and medical treatments actually created more sexual intimacy overall, depending on the illness.

Those who were in a partnership still had a lot of sex and the more they had, the better and more positive they felt overall.

If men did feel bad about their relationships, their masturbation levels increased. Masturbation increased for all who were not in a continuous partnership.

So, what does this all mean? Sex is not over for you, my 40 year olds and beyond! All you have to do is check out what is actually happening (or not happening!) and get to it.

Are you simply in a rut? Need to spice it up? Do something you haven’t done lately? Or ever?

I dare you.

Have some sex, people. Romance and sex IS for you, too. It does a body good. Regardless of how old you are.

References:

DeLamater, J. & Moorman, S.M. (2009). Sexual behavior later in life. In In Moore, N. B., Davidson, J. K., & Fisher, T. D. (Eds.). Speaking of sexuality: Interdisciplinary readings (3rd ed.). New York: Oxford University Press.

Don’t Hit: It’s That Simple.

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One of the most controversial “gray areas” in social behavior is corporal punishment (CP). While I was in college, I was part of a group project on the relationship of antisocial behaviors and CP. The gist of our presentation was that one of the effects of CP may be Antisocial Behavior (ASB). While CP and ASB do not necessarily depend on each other (Grogan-Kaylor, 2004), there is a definite connection between the two. It has also been found, without discrepancy, that CP has a negative effect on a child’s behavior (Grogan-Kaylor, 2004).  Parenting that does not include these behaviors yields a lack of ABS over generations of children. Several psychological studies are devoted to the positive relationship between corporal punishment (CP) and antisocial behavior in children, so we thought it was a no brainer. Upon giving our presentation, we were all shocked to find that our project was most controversial and raised a huge discussion.  Fellow students said they were raised with spankings and they turned out fine. Some said that children are out of control these days and “need a good whacking.” One fellow classmate advised hitting a child with a wooden spoon – that way the child would not associate the spoon to authority figure.

Just for the record, that is not true.

Reflecting back on that time and now working with parents who struggle with disciplinary issues with their children, I can still say without a doubt, I disagree with CP wholeheartedly.  Years later, since that fateful presentation that sparked so much debate, the facts still support that CP is not a good idea. This was not a flash in the pan idea. CP is not a good idea, period.

American Psychological Association (APA) indicated that CP reduces the likelihood of effective, humane, and creative ways of interacting with children and that we can educate, train, and socialize our children without the use of physical violence. CP lowers children’s self esteem and trains kids to use physical violence to control others’ behavior. CP is likely to instill hostility, rage, and a sense of powerlessness without reducing undesirable behavior.

A recent study in the journal Pediatrics in early July this year noted that CPS such as spanking, hitting, pushing and grabbing are associated with the development of mood and anxiety disorders, substance abuse and personality disorders. 6% of 34,000 adults studied who experienced harsh physical punishment as children were more prone to Axis I and Axis II mental disorders, such as major depression, mania and schizophrenia.

So, what would I like to say to that classmate from all those years ago? Throw the damn spoon away and take a deep breath.

We don’t hit. It’s that simple.

APA. (2015). Corporal Punishment. Retrieved from http://www.apa.org/about/policy/corporal-punishment.aspx

Grogan-Kaylor, A. (2004). The effect of corporal punishment on antisocial behavior in children. Social Work Research, 28 (3), 153-163.