Archive for the ‘sexual dysfunctiion’ Category

50 Shades of Sex In the Golden Years

February 24, 2015

So many seniors think that after sixty sexual intimacy goes into the tank. This is hardly the case as an interest in intimacy and sexual activity continues throughout life even in the golden years. Our society tends to have ageist concept of intimacy, portraying sex among seniors as inappropriate or unnatural. The truth is that many seniors, both men and women, continue to be sexually active and are interested in meeting others with whom they can become intimate. There is documentation that 70% of men and 35% of women continue to be sexually active over the age of 70. This blog will discuss sex and the senior and what you can do if you are having problems with sexual intimacy in your senior years.

While most long-married individuals reported steady declines in sexual activity, those who passed the 50-year marriage mark began to report a slight increase in their sex lives.

And notably, frequency in the sex lives of long-married couples continued to improve. The study, published last month in The Archives of Sexual Behavior, researchers noted that an individual married for 50 years will have somewhat less sex than an individual married for 65 years.

The analysis of this study showed that the warm glow after the 50-year marriage mark, although flickering, was steadier than that of those in marriages of shorter duration. The researchers are sociologists at Louisiana State University, Florida State University and Baylor University.

Sexual frequency doesn’t return to two to three times a month, but it moves in that direction, which was reported by the investigator from LSU.

But the finding that some long-married couples continue to have sex decade after decade was not news to Jennie B., an 82-year-old widow who lives in a village in upstate New York. She married her first and only husband, Peter, in 1956, when they were in their mid-twenties. The couple, married 47 years, remained sexually active until he had quintuple heart bypass surgery two years before his death in 2003.

In this snapshot study of older adults, some were not having sex at all. And a few were even having sex daily. But in the main, the study looked at trends. The average older adult who had been married for a year had a 65 percent chance of having sex two to three times a month or more. At 25 years of marriage, the likelihood of that frequency dropped to 40 percent. If the marriage lasted 50 years, the likelihood was 35 percent. But if the marriage — and the lifespan — of the older adults continued, at 65 years of being together, the chance of having sex with that frequency was 42 percent.

And so, as adults age, their social circles shrink, they know time is limited, they look around and what do they see? Each other. Seniors will often place intimacy as a high priority.

I might add that seniors often engage in intimacy without having intercourse but that intimacy can occur with touching, holding hands and kissing is often just as satisfying and gratifying as sexual intercourse which occurs at an earlier age.

Bottom Line: Sex after sixty is an activity that is normal and should be encouraged. It may take a little creativity and it may take a little more planning and effort but it can happen and both partners feel a sense of enjoyment and pleasure.

Recommended Reading 30 Lessons for Loving, by Karl Pillemer, PhD.

Perhaps even 50 Shades of Grey!

Erectile Dysfunction High Cholesterol? Statins An Option For ED

February 16, 2015

ED affects millions of American men and many of these men have high cholesterol levels which causes narrowing of the blood vessels all over the body including the blood supply to the penis. Now there is evidence that statins, drugs used to lower the cholesterol level, may offer help for men with ED. statin – not only to improve their quality of life but also to reduce their future cardiovascular risk.

The study from treated men with high cholesterol levels and a history of ED with statins 6 months and the men had improvement in their sexual health-related quality of life and reduced their risk of heart disease.

A greater benefit was seen in men with severe ED treated with statins who had improvements of 12% versus 5% in men who did not receive a statin.
Improvement in erectile function (on the International Index of Erectile

Bottom Line: If you have either ED or an elevated cholesterol level, speak to your doctor about using a statin, which not only improves your quality of sexual life but also reduces your future cardiovascular risk.

Depressed? Don’t Let Your Medication Steal Your Sex Life

December 19, 2014

Depression is a ubiquitous problem in the United States. Many of those who suffer from depression take anti-depressant medication and experience the side effect of sexual problems related to the medication to treat their depression. While sexual dysfunction is a frequent symptom of depression itself and successful treatment might eliminate it, antidepressants may exacerbate sexual dysfunction or even cause it in people whose sex life was previously fine. In fact, sexual dysfunction is a common side effect of all classes of antidepressants. This blog will discuss the relationship of sexual dysfunction in men and women who use anti-depressants and what are some of the solutions for those problems.

Fortunately, the news is not all bad. Experts have devised six main ways to address antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction, and one or more of these approaches may work for you. For example, a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that Viagra (sildenafil) improved symptoms in more than half of men with antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction.

The Effects of Antidepressants on Sexual Function
Antidepressants can affect almost all aspects of one’s sex life. First, it can diminish interest in and desire for sex. In men, it frequently causes erectile dysfunction (an inability to achieve or sustain an erection), and in women, it may cause vaginal dryness and decreased sensation in the genitals. Lastly, in both sexes, antidepressants can result in a difficulty or inability to achieve orgasm.
Sexual dysfunction caused by any factor, including antidepressants, can have effects that range far beyond the bedroom, including psychological distress and a decrease in self-esteem and overall quality of life. These effects cause many people to stop taking their antidepressants: Up to 90% of patients who experience antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction stop taking their antidepressants prematurely.
How do you know if your antidepressant is causing sexual problems? Experts say that the trouble is probably the result of the medication if a person who did not previously have sexual dysfunction experiences problems within two to three months of beginning antidepressant treatment.

Who Is at Risk and From Which Antidepressants?
While anyone taking an antidepressant may experience sexual dysfunction, certain people are more susceptible. These include people who are over age 50, married, or smokers; who don’t have a full-time job or college education; who take additional medications or a high dosage of antidepressants; who have another health condition that can cause sexual dysfunction (for example, diabetes or prostate disease); and who felt that sexual enjoyment was not important prior to taking antidepressant medication.
Reports show that anywhere from 30% to 70% of people who take antidepressants experience sexual dysfunction. Because these reports did not all measure sexual dysfunction in the same way, however, it has been difficult to compare rates from one report to another.

What To Do
You and your doctor can treat antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction in six main ways. However, do not make any changes in your treatment regimen without first consulting your physician.

1 Choose an antidepressant medication with a low rate of sexual side effects. If you are sexually active and have numerous risk factors for antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction, your doctor may consider prescribing Wellbutrin, which has one of the lowest rates of sexual side effects. If you are already taking an antidepressant, switching to one with a low rate of sexual side effects may improve these symptoms. However, switching must be done carefully to minimize the risk of relapse or a withdrawal reaction from the first drug. Also, there is a chance that the new antidepressant will be less effective than the first or will cause other side effects. 

2 Wait to see if sexual side effects abate. One study found that antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction improved somewhat in about a fifth of patients within six months of beginning treatment. Antidepressant-induced sexual dysfunction rarely disappears completely without treatment but may diminish to a point that is acceptable to the patient.
3 Change the time you take your antidepressant medication. If your symptoms involve a difficulty or inability to achieve orgasm, taking the medication after sexual activity may be helpful. For example, if you are most likely to engage in sexual activity in the evening, take the antidepressants just before falling asleep. Blood levels of the drug will be lowest the following night, and the extent of side effects also should be lowest at this time.
4 Reduce the dosage. A decrease in the dosage of medication may allow some people to regain satisfactory sexual function. However, lowering the amount of antidepressant taken each day may cause withdrawal reactions (particularly in people taking Paxil, Zoloft, and Effexor XR, which are cleared from the body quickly) or an increase in depressive symptoms. People who use this approach need to develop a plan with their doctor and should be monitored closely.
5 Take drug holidays. A “drug holiday” involves taking a short break from your antidepressant. Some evidence shows that taking periodic two-day breaks from antidepressant treatment can lower the rate of sexual side effects during the drug holiday without increasing the risk of a relapse or recurrence of depressive symptoms. For example, in one study, taking medication Sunday through Thursday and skipping Friday and Saturday allowed participants to have improved sexual functioning 50% of the time on weekends with no overall worsening of mood. This approach worked with quick-clearing drugs (Zoloft and Paxil) but not with Prozac, which clears slowly from the body. Potential risks of drug holidays include relapse and withdrawal reactions. 

Add another medication. Various medications can be added to your antidepressant regimen to combat sexual dysfunction; the medication with the best evidence reported in the medical literature is Viagra.

Some reports suggest that the herbal extract Ginkgo biloba may be helpful, but do not take it without consulting your doctor. Ginkgo not only has known side effects, but it may also have unknown side effects, and the product may be contaminated or lack potency.

Bottom Line: Sexual problems are common with the use of anti-depressants. You don’t need to suffer in silence. If you are taking anti-depressants and experience sexual side effects, speak to your physician as help is available and modifications in your medications may just solve your problem and put you “back in the saddle” again!