The movie Something’s Gotta Give with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton, both in their 60s may have done more for ‘mature lovers’ egos and sex lives than Viagra, Cialis, or Levitra!

The scene where they have sex for the first time is both hilarious and touching and speaks of the issues over-50 people face with their sexuality. He’s just recently had a heart attack and she, divorced for years, hasn’t had sex for a “long, long time”. Even though their sexual performance was more comedic than erotic, it was outweighed by their endearing emotional desire for each other and the confidence the experience gave back to them. She learns she still really does like sex and he winds up crying afterwards surprised and deeply touched by his second lease on life.

In the film, Diane’s character laments that she had thought her sex life was permanently “closed for business”. I have several 55+ year-old patients who also fear that their personal shop is closed as they don’t seem to go there much anymore. Do you feel like that?

As I tell my patients, sex was meant to be a healthy part of your life for as long as you want it to be. So, let’s talk, then, about some ways that you can keep a vibrant sex life well into your advanced years! First, let me address the guys and talk about a common problem for 50+ men, erectile dysfunction, and how it can impact your sexuality.

Do You Really Need One of Those Drugs?

We’ve gotten into a culture that pushes drugs on television. More and more of my male patients “of a certain age” see the TV ads for Viagra, Cialis and Levitra, think it’s the magic bullet, and ask me for a prescription. However, I’d rather recommend that my patients first try some natural remedies for erectile dysfunction such as the following:

Exercise: Many cases of erectile dysfunction occur because of decreased blood supply to the lower half of the body. Try getting some aerobic exercise that utilizes your legs predominantly like bicycling, hiking, walking, playing golf, tennis, for at least 30-45 minutes, 4 times a week to increase blood flow to your lower half.

Poor Nutrition/Low-Testosterone: A diet lacking in zinc, protein, vitamin E, and, surprisingly, cholesterol, can decrease testosterone levels that can aggravate ED. Fat helps make testosterone via cholesterol. A healthy, testosterone boosting level is about 30-40 grams of fat a day! Studies show that higher protein, lower simple sugar diets also help create testosterone. Aim for at least 0.5 grams of protein for each lb of body weight. In addition, supplements like Royal Maca, contain natural plant sterols that boost testosterone and increase sperm levels in men. Stay away from soy as it contains plant estrogens that can decrease testosterone and aggravated ED. If you’ve been eating soy, Chrysin, a bioflavonoid, will help purge estrogen from your system.

Mental Health: Emotional issues can also cause erectile dysfunction. If you’re carrying around a lot of stress, which can be common these days, your sex life can suffocate beneath the weight of it. Sharing your feelings with an objective friend or counselor can give you a different perspective on things. It can really help you perk up mentally and physically.

Illness: Diabetes, coronary artery disease (CAD), or prostate disease can cause erectile difficulties. In diabetes and CAD, decreased blood flow is a problem, which can improve, with exercise. Testosterone decreasing drugs used in treating prostate disease can also add to ED.

Alcohol/Drugs: If you’re consuming too much alcohol, it too can aggravate ED. If you’re having more than 2 drinks a day, 7 days a week, or are binge drinking/partying on weekends, this is too much. Similarly, many prescription drugs can aggravate ED, especially blood pressure drugs. Ask your doctor if the drugs you are taking are absolutely necessary and/or if the dosage could be lowered. Other substances such as marijuana can also contribute to ED. Now, I’d like to have a word with ladies over 50.

Is Menopause Putting Your Sex Life On Hold?

As I tell my male patients with menopausal wives or girlfriends, menopause can add a whole new dimension to sexuality concerns in over-50 relationships. Menopause can usher in a wave of insecurity about their femininity. They may see drier hair and skin, sagging muscles, weight gain and may just not feel as attractive as they used to.

In addition, as a woman ages, the vaginal tissues undergo physical changes from the decrease in estrogen. The walls get thinner and the tissues not as resilient. They may also experience vaginal dryness that may cause burning inflammation that spells serious discomfort during sex.

Menopausal women may have trouble sleeping due to hormone changes and just might not have the same physical energy for sexual relations they used to. However, there are some natural things women can do to help regain their youthful attractiveness and sex drive.

Nutritional Support: Decreasing estrogen levels can show up in how a woman looks and feels. Women don’t feel sexy if they don’t feel good or don’t feel that they look good! Menopause requires much more vitamin and mineral support to do the work of decreasing estrogen levels. Some menopause superstars are:

Fish oil and Super Primrose Oil - both at 1,000 mg a day – helps fight overall dryness.
Powerhouse vitamin/mineral formula – should contain all the B vitamins, Vitamin D, Vitamin C, and important antioxidants like selenium. It should also contain the trace mineral boron, in which menopausal women are usually deficient.
Calcium, zinc and magnesium - 1200 mg combination a day. Helps keep your bones strong, decreases muscle tension and hot flashes.
Resveratrol (an antioxidant, anti-aging agent) - can help slow down aging at the cellular level and boost your heart function with the side effect of smoothing out your skin.
Protein and Biotin - keep muscles strong and hair, nails, and skin lively by eating enough protein. Like men, women’s muscles shrink from lack of protein and lack of strengthening exercise. The skin overlying the muscle becomes loose, sags and wrinkles. Same for men, 0.5-gram protein per lb of body weight. If you weigh 180, 90 grams protein is your daily goal.
Water – dehydration is common in men and women over 50. Your skin becomes drier and less supple, wrinkles more; contributes to vaginal dryness and decreases seminal fluid production in men. It can also cause serious mineral imbalances that can disturb heart rhythms.

Vaginal Dryness: There are several commercial products that address this issue. Natural products include Vitamin E 1,000 mg soft gel, and extra virgin olive oil, both which can be inserted vaginally. Both decrease inflammation and normalize the pH in the vaginal tract. The supplement Royal Maca also works its magic on women! It not only helps alleviate vaginal dryness but also can ramp up your sex drive. Women in the South Seas have used it for years as a menopause restorative.

Hormone Replacement Therapy: Some women benefit greatly from replacing estrogen and progesterone skewed in menopause. They can relieve vaginal dryness, night sweats, hot flashes and a host of other ailments that women need not suffer through. If menopause is just too rough, consult your doctor about bioidentical hormone replacement, the one I highly recommend. It contains phytoestrogens and natural progesterone that are identical to natural, human hormones and do not have the side effects, or cancer risks, that synthetic hormones, like Premarin, etc, do.
And now, a little advice for both of you….

Share Your Toys, Play A While

You may have seen lovers’ stores popping up all over the place. Take your significant other and visit one! You will find “sex enhancement” products ranging from special lingerie for her (forget the flannel!), sexy underwear for him (ditch the boxers!), and a whole array of sex toys designed to stimulate your imagination as well as the rest of you!

Sex enhancement toys: Proven to be a big help to older lovers because the battery or electrical power can get stimulation moving faster and stronger than on your own. Vacuum pumps can safely help achieve satisfactory erections even with ED. Enhancement toys and devices can be a source of fun that is always a welcome aphrodisiac.

There are also heightened stimulation lotions for both men and women that are applied to the labial and penile skin during initial sex play. Designed for those who may have trouble “getting there”, it contains a stimulant that can help you and your partner achieve a more intense orgasm.

Sex enhancement supplements: Available in health food stores is an herbal product used in Chinese Medicine for centuries called Horny Goat Weed (really, that’s the name!), it does just what the title states. It contains a substance called icariin that has a positive effect on genital blood flow. May take a little longer (sometimes a few days) to work than Rx enhancement drugs like Viagra, but does not carry the same side effects. However, they should not be taken if you take heart rhythm or blood pressure type prescriptions. Others, ashwagandha, and avena sativa, have long been used in Indian Medicine for sexual dysfunction.

Well, there you have some basic recommendations I give my patients over 50 who complain that their sex life is not what it used to be. Basically, healthy sex, as you grow older, boils down to being healthy in general. As you get older, you must pay more attention to nutrition, sleep, stress, and decreasing hormone levels. Your doctor can assess hormone levels and perhaps address natural replacement if necessary. Try some of the suggestions listed here and see if your love life picks up some speed. Remember too, that physical sex is just one part of being happily, romantically involved with your partner. Like Jack Nicholson’s character, Harry, in the film finds out, it’s not enough to just be able to physically perform, you have to let your heart feel love too!

Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
Institute For Healthy Aging

Author's Bio: 

Mark Rosenberg M.D. is director of the “Institute of Anti-Aging” in South Florida. He is a highly sought-after speaker for lectures on topics such as integrative cancer therapy and anti-aging medicine. Dr. Rosenberg is avidly involved in supplement research and is nutritional consultant for Vitalmax Vitamins.