Shy Wood Nymph

Friday, August 05, 2005

Question

I have a question about public activities. Is there any very secluded places in the Ottawa area where a couple can do whatever without being seen?

Answer

I'm sure that there are. However, this website gets so many hits per day that if I were to point out one such location to you, there will be a lot of company when you arrive. Emissaries of the law have also been known to spy upon on-line content and apprehend those who engage in public sex. So you will have to find your own place for a tryst. Sorry!

Because this question was such an anticlimax, I'm going to follow up with a second question this week.

Q

Is it normal for older females (over 65) to elect to no longer have sexual relations?

- A Worried Grandpa

This question actually raises a couple of issues. One has to do with the concept of "normalcy." What exactly does this mean? Religions have their taboos on sexual activity, each set being slightly different. But "normalcy" comes out of medical and psychiatric regulation of sexuality that intensified in the late 1800s and early 1900s. Still, it has a moralistic ring. Does it mean "average," i.e., what most people do? If so, it isn't much help, because we have little current data on human sexual behavior. But several studies that have been done do document that there are women over the age of 65 who are still sexually active.

The desire to do what everybody else thinks is appropriate or normal may not be strong enough to overcome a negative experience with sexuality. There are a lot of reasons why an older woman could decide to swear off sex. Let's take a look at some of these to see if any of them apply to your situation. The most common reason to stop having sex is the absence of desire. A low libido can result from a hormonal imbalance after menopause. While some doctors are willing to prescribe estrogen replacement hormones, it's testosterone that creates libido in both men and women. More doctors need to understand that the appropriate dose of testosterone can help some of their post-menopausal patients to continue enjoying intercourse and other wild monkey fun. A low libido can also be caused by problems with blood pressure or circulation, diabetes, depression, or medications such as anti-depressants and beta blockers. But a person who needs these medications shouldn't just stop taking them! Consult with a doctor to see if a different regimen would help you, or if you could get by with a lower dose.

When sex is uncomfortable or not very pleasurable, it's natural to want to avoid it. Relationship problems can have a negative effect on any reasonable person's level of desire. So can a history of sex that's not satisfying. Has this 65-year-old woman ever had an orgasm? If so, was it during intercourse? Have her experiences with partnered sex included foreplay and clitoral stimulation? Does she feel loved and wanted? And what are her beliefs about the purpose or meaning of sexuality? If she believes it's mostly for the purpose of reproduction, now that she's no longer of child-bearing age, she may feel that it's fine to let it go. If she's got chronic pain, osteoporosis, or other health problems, her body may simply not feel very attractive or responsive to pleasure.

I've certainly come into contact with the idea that sex is only for the young and beautiful. Seniors who think it's somehow wrong for them to want sex can feel shame about trying to keep the flame alive. But the reality is that people continue to need intimacy and physical contact throughout the lifespan. Most of us want to keep having sex as long as we are able to do so. Regularly having orgasms with a partner or with yourself is necessary to keep those systems in working order. Older people who stop masturbating or having partnered sex can find it difficult to regain the capacity to have an orgasm if they bring sensual pleasure back into their lives.