It can make you look younger, combat stress and even stave off dementia; no wonder sex is being hailed as a great activity for the over 60s!
And it’s simply not true that your interest in intercourse fades as soon as you pick up your bus pass – statistics from the National Institute Of Aging show that a third of pensioners have sex at least twice a month.
‘There’s absolutely no reason why you can’t still have sex right up until you no longer have the physical ability or energy,’ says Dr Louise Newsom from the Spire Parkway Hospital in Birmingham. ‘It bonds you closer to your partner, provides a good cardiovascular workout, and even if you’ve been affected by the menopause , there are many things you can do to boost your libido.’
So what are you waiting for? Getting frisky and improve your health…
You’ll get fewer colds
Having sex at least once a week has been found to raise your body’s levels of immunoglobulin A (known as IgA), which is a cold and flu-fighting antibody.
‘IgA is the first line of defence against colds and flu,’ says Carl Chenetski from Wilkes University in Pennsylvania, whose study found that couples who have sex once or twice a week have 30% higher levels of IgA.
It’s good exercise
Having sex raises the heart rate and gets the blood and oxygen flowing.
‘On a basic level, sex is exercise,’ says sexual psychotherapist Paula Hall. ‘It’s good for blood pressure , muscle tone and the cardiovascular system. It also produces hormones that are good for restoring tissue.’
It could stave off dementia
‘A Coventry University study in 2016 on over 6,800 people aged 50-89 showed that those who were still active in the bedroom had sharper cognitive function,’ reveals Dr Glenville. ‘Women who were sexually active scored higher on both word tests and number puzzles. This could be because hormones like dopamine are released during sex, which could help cognitive function.’
It makes you feel better
‘Sex helps to release endorphins, which are the “feel good” neurotransmitters,’ explains Dr Glenville. ‘It also increases the production of oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone”, which can help with pain relief, and it can help reduce stress too.’
In addition, a study of 8,000 people over the age of 50 from Trinity College Dublin found that couples who maintain a healthy sex life in later life were less likely to feel depressed and were more positive about ageing.
Sex keeps you looking younger
People who have sex at least three times a week can look up to 10 years younger than those who do it less frequently, according to a study by the Royal Edinburgh Hospital. Dr David Weeks, who conducted the study, says sex in women helps trigger the production of a human growth hormone that helps them keep their youthful looks. Sex also pumps oxygen around the body, boosting the circulation and the flow of nutrients to the skin, making it glow.
Your heart health will improve
Forget the rumours about sixty-somethings having heart attacks mid-coitus. Studies suggest the opposite is true, and that regular sex can actually reduce your risk of a heart attack. Researchers at Queen’s University in Belfast found a weekly roll in the sheets can halve the risk of a heart attack or stroke, and another study found women who orgasm at least twice a week were 30% less likely to develop heart disease.
Sex and the menopause
‘Many women have a reduced libido because of the hormone changes triggered by the menopause,’ explains Dr Newson. ‘See your GP to make sure you get the right balance of hormone replacement, which will help with this. You may also be suffering from increased vaginal dryness due to the loss of elasticity here as you age. I recommend trying a lubricant, such as Regelle or Sylk, which uses natural ingredients.’
Women’s health specialist Dr Marilyn Glenville adds, ‘Feeling healthy can help you feel more like having sex, so ensure you are following a good diet low in sugar, carbohydrates and saturated fats. And boost your intake of zinc and vitamin B3.’
For more from Dr Marilyn Glenville, visit marilynglenville.com