Recently, 74-year-old icon Jane Fonda stirred up the imagination of her ardent admirers as she admitted in an interview that she ‘never had such a fulfilling sex life’ as she has now. Looking through the hourglass of time, this statement by the twice Academy award winning American actress challenges established myths and demolishes preconceived notions about indulgence in sex by seniors.
Rarely does someone in the public domain talk with such refreshing candor and frankness about the pleasure of sex in the senior years of one’s life. Surprisingly, the young and middle aged hardly ever contemplate about this exciting possibility, as there is a silent consensus on cessation of sexual activities upon entering the “twilight zone.” But not so for Jane Fonda who, as a fitness guru in the 1980s, had literally set the Thames on fire. A series of exercise videos launched by Jane caught popular imagination worldwide and sparked a fitness revolution, and her perfectly sculpted body became the very embodiment of a healthy and active lifestyle.
We applaud her for talking about older adults having sex. They can and they should continue to enjoy this pleasurable activity which connects the physical with the spiritual. As each body is different and ages differently, it is important to be aware of and understand the changes that are occurring within the body over time so as to calibrate responses for different tasks. In the context of sex it could be, for instance, understanding of the extra time and stimulus required for the desired erection in men, and of the myriad physical and verbal triggers needed to ignite the sexual spark in women. Sex could be a recommended activity in the ‘To-Do’ list of seniors since reduced social contact and a retired lifestyle allow luxury of time to reflect and experiment with ways to achieve near perfect physical and emotional union with their partner.
Older adults may not have any worries about pregnancy but sexually transmitted infections (STIs) are still a concern. Recent research indicates increasing rates of STIs among the senior population. Therefore, it is imperative to practice safer sex. We advocate the correct and consistent use of condoms as the most reliable method of prevention of STIs. Readers are invited to visit Sex after 50 for more information about the risk factors involved and the precautions required to take while indulging in sex. Also, safersex4seniors.org is another excellent resource for information on different issues specific to the senior population.