The natural aging process brings with it natural changes in sexual function. It doesn't necessarily get worse, but our physiology changes as we get older. The danger is that people come to accept the stereotypes that aging equals a loss of sexual desire and ability. But we are sexual creatures, no matter what our age; and sex is important for our life quality. If you hang up the towel on your sex life, you can risk losing one of the most important parts of your life-and your health.

A satisfying sex life is a natural memory enhancer.

It helps reduce stress and improves self-esteem. Sex is good for you; it keeps your pipes working! You should continue to have good sex for the same reason you should continue to get good exercise: it's a natural form of taking good care of yourself-and your relationship. If your sex life has been put in the garage, open the door and start your engines-whether you feel like it or not. Once you do, you'll feel tremendously relieved and glad you did. You have a responsibility to make the rest of your life as full it can be. A continuing sex life can actually extend your lifespan.

Desire or libido starts the engine.

If your desire is down, check with your doctor. If a man's desire is down, he should visit his doctor and have his testosterone levels checked. Most men's testosterone levels go down with aging. So the first step is to measure these levels to see if they are abnormal. The FDA estimates that there are over five million men in the U.S. with low testosterone levels, a dangerous medical condition known as hypogonadism. But many of these men are not getting testosterone treatment. But make sure to get a reliable bioavailable testosterone test before attempting testosterone therapy. As men age, they tend to lose their ability to remember at a greater rate than women. The single best predictor of poor memory in middle-aged men is low testosterone. And when men are given it back, their memory can improve. So that is a huge bonus! (And Viagra cannot work properly if low testosterone levels are not corrected.)

It's important to know that inability to achieve an erection can be a sneaky symptom of heart disease. So while you're there, have your heart checked too! And your doctor should ask you if you smoke-since the number one drug that causes impotence is tobacco!

Know that untreated depression can lead to loss of libido and sexual function in men and in women. Ironically, antidepressant medication, while helping with depression, can reduce libido and desire.

Here are a few things to consider to keep things moving in the right direction:

Take it easy, go slow and enjoy every aspect of intimacy. It may take a bit longer to start your engine, but part of being older is the fact that we are more patient and we know what satisfies us. So go slowly and don't judge yourself or each other. Take your time, and enjoy a playful nature, and let it progress naturally into foreplay, and whatever else follows. Sex does not have to equal intercourse. You can still be sexual and sensual, even if intercourse isn't working for you. Let go of judgments, intercourse should not be the goal. If some sexual activity is uncomfortable or doesn't work, try something different-get creative!

Smooch it up! The beginning of a romantic relationship often begins with a kiss. In the converse, the absence of kissing can begin the slow descent toward lack of intimacy or worse. You don't just abruptly stop cuddling or having sex, you first stop kissing. Never let kissing fade in your relationship, or sooner or later, the whole thing can fade. There is nothing that tastes as sweet as a kiss, and nothing creates a more powerful "seal."

Get playful. You're never too old to honor and enjoy each other's bodies. Try sexy lingerie, even kinky costumes-why not? Take a shower or a bubble bath together. Follow that with a slow and tender massage with scented oils and lotions. Don't forget the ambiance of candlelight. Use whatever tools you want to keep that engine purring.

Speaking of tools... Why not visit lingerie or 'adult toy' shops. If that's not your cup of tea, there are sites online that can provide stimulating items of interest, as well as privacy and confidentiality. Remember too, that it's normal for women over 60 to need a little boost in the natural moisture department. There are plenty of safe and effective lubricants that can help bring back the joy of slip and slide, and when applied by your partner, it can become an erotic and welcomed stimulant.

Get creative. Leave sexy notes for your partner to find. Surprise them with little gifts and tokens of your love and intentions. Why not go dancing together or enjoy a flirtatious rendezvous? Take a salsa class or ballroom dance class and stir things up a bit. Sign up for a class on massage techniques. Give each other hand massages, even pedicures!

Take advantage of proper timing. Enjoy intimacy with your partner at any time of the day or night that works for you. It's not uncommon for the 60+ generation to have more energy in the morning and afternoon, so take advantage of that energy and enjoy a morning or an afternoon delight.


Snuggle alert! Take the pressure off. There's nothing more deflating than worrying about performance. Emphasize satisfaction, not performance. Decide together that whatever happens happens, so enjoy the beauty of cuddling before, during, and after sex. Simply holding each other, and enjoying openness and sensuality can be the best part of intimacy-that's what makes it

Get the giggles! There's nothing more attractive than having a bond of humor and laughter with your mate. Play silly games, create your own lingo with private meanings and special words, go ahead and be a tease with each other. Laughter is the best medicine, enjoy the good times!

The Dating Game. Remember when you used to date? Recreate some of that same youthful and spontaneous energy by making a date with each other. Go and do things you've always meant to do, but never found the time to do before. Create fresh, romantic, and fun things to do, and make new memories together!

Communicate. The biggest block to a positive sexual life is our inability to talk about our feelings and desires. Many older people were raised to not talk about sex, so it can be a difficult subject to broach. If you can't talk about it with your partner, find a way to talk about it with somebody, not necessarily a therapist but a friend. Expressing your feelings initially is the best way to open the door to discussing it with your partner. That may be all it takes, a little nudge may open the door to communication.