Ask Dr. Annie K: Sex and Aging

My husband, who is 78, can’t climax. He has the desire but loses the urge after a short time. He has had ed for several years but could still finish up to the last year or so. Is this age related? Any hope?
– Anonymous

Love+Medicine

 

Thank you for this great question. I assure you that many of my readers are interested.

This is a condition called Delayed Ejaculation (DE) or Anorgasmia. The erection is there but no climax. The answer to your first question, whether it is age related is yes. About 1/3 of men your husband’s age have problems reaching climax.

Let’s take a look at the science behind the male sexual response to understand what is going on. It is a cascade of events originating in the brain but involving the entire body. One system relaxes the body allowing for blood flow to the penis (erection), the other follows up with contractions necessary for ejaculation. These processes are sweetly choreographed to reach the big O.

What can cause DE?

Drugs – It is well known that antidepressants cause sexual dysfunction. Here are some others:
Alcohol
Diphenhydramine (Benedryl)
H2 blockers (Tagamet, Zantac, Pepcid)
Hydrochlorothiazide
Atenolol
Opiates
Furosemide (Lasix)
Triamterine (Maxzide)
Estrogen
NSAIDs (Ibuprofen)
Pseudoephedrine (Sudafed)
Finasteride (Propecia, Proscar)
Lipid-lowering agents
Digoxin
Levodopa (Sinemet)

Heart Disease – The arteries of the penis are often the first to show atherosclerosis.

Weak Pelvic Floor – These muscles weaken as we age.

Infection – Urinary tract infections, STDs and prostatitis.

Endocrine Conditions – Diabetes, hypothyroidism, low testosterone levels.

Psychological and Spiritual Factors – Anxiety, depression, relationship issues.

Consultation with a primary care physician AND a urologist are recommended to rule out these and other medical conditions. They may provide treatment options as well. Studies are limited but there are promising reports of acupuncture as a treatment for DE.

Sex is different as we age – biology we have to accept. I like to describe it as a quieter sex. Just as hot but more simmering than full boil. Pleasure comes equally from giving and receiving. Orgasm may not be the goal every time. Going through the natural changes and seeing them as normal may bring you closer as a couple.

 This is advice for all my sexually active seniors:

  1. Get in shape.
  2. Make love early in the day, when testosterone levels are highest.
  3. Eat healthy – What is good for your heart is good for your penis.
  4. Maximize oral stimulation.
  5. Fantasize about sex.
  6. Do Kegel exercises.
  7. Use your imagination.

Age is not a disease. Do everything you can to OPTIMIZE the functioning of your body and mind. In answer to your second question, there is definitely hope!

Flower Moon

How does a tulip bulb hold so much green?
So much crazy red opening to the sun?
So much yellow-gold effrontery?
You too hold so much greenness
And a wild array of colors—
Splash of viridian, chartreuse and crimson.
Combine sun, warmth, and rain– –
Root down into the generous earth.
Does a flower ask its purpose?
Be rooted and sure in your beauty.
Bloom where you are planted.
Reach for the sun.
And when the gloaming turns cobalt,
then midnight blue,
Let the full Flower Moon seed your dreams.

Therese Guise is an artist, poet and friend of mine living in Eastern Iowa. We met at a writers’ workshop led by Judy Bridges called “Shut up and Write!” – which motivated both of us to do so. Her honors include Out Loud’s Best Poem of the Year and winner of the Upper Mississippi River Valley Poetry Contest. Publications include the Out Loud Anthology and the Off-Channel Anthology.

I am proud to publish her poem, Flower Moon, on loveandmedicine.

Are You Due For A Tune-Up?

Dr. Annie K’s Spring Sex Tune-up

 

The human body is an absolute wonder. The way it bends and stretches, responds to pain and pleasure, protects us. It is upon us to take the time to honor and respect our bodies – by both daily words of gratitude and royal treatment. Like any intricate machine, our bodies require maintenance.

Here is my proposed sexual health checklist for men and women. My guess is that your doctor isn’t asking these questions (but should).

 

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Stay Young Forever! Who Knew it Would Be So Easy? Dr. Annie K Gives you the Low-Down

Today a sponsored article appeared on my Facebook feed entitled “15 All Natural Ways to Stay Young Forever.” Sponsored by Medical-News.org, it has 3,120 shares and 7,700 comments.

The author is Simi. Just Simi, like Madonna or Cher. A search for his/her bio on medical-news.org came up with nothing. Is the author a robot, a teenager sitting in a cubicle or a true medical professional?

Articles like this infuriate me. They perpetuate a myth that people want to stay young forever AND that if you follow Simi’s recommendations, you will. I conduct scientific research on aging on a daily basis. Spewing this bullshit as science is maddening.

The article was not entirely full of crap. Yes, water, fruits and vegetables are good for you and coconut oil feels great and smells divine. Protect your skin from the sun – really? Tell me something I don’t know.

I have nothing against facial yoga. But claiming “it’s benefits are the same as facelift surgery” may be a reach.

“Sweat is not good for the skin.” Are we worrying that our increasingly sedentary and morbidly obese population is sweating too much? People don’t sweat enough. Sweat rids the body of toxins. It protects the body from overheating like a brilliant homeostatic machine. On the contrary, try to work up a sweat every day.

Sleeping on your back with two pillows is recommended in the article. Actually sleeping with no pillows elongates the neck that is tipped forward most of the day. Benefits of sleeping on the left side are well documented in medical literature for digestion. Sleeping on your back may double the risk of sleep apnea. Just keep it simple and get enough sleep, in any position that’s right for your body.

Running a marathon as a way to stay young forever is an unrealistic goal for the average reader. Just move, every chance you can. Park far away. Do Kegel exercises.

“Staying young involves many things to be achieved but the easiest one is ensuring that you avoid stress.” Even if I could forgive the clumsy syntax, this advice is useless. Who, in the evolution of the animal kingdom, has succeeded in avoiding stress? What matters is how we cope with it.

Shaving made the cut, no pun intended. It “enables the skin to be conspicuous.” Is that really medical news?

The article recommends drinking green tea at night to calm down and improve sleep. Green tea has great health benefits but it contains caffeine and is obviously not a beverage for bedtime. This is health 101 – no caffeine at night.

We live in a youth-obsessed culture that places merit on superficiality and physical attractiveness rather than deeper values like wisdom, experience and graceful aging.  Don’t get sucked in by the promise of a simple fix. Be smart and skeptical. Always check credentials of the author – is this person qualified to write about medicine?

Finally, don’t trust anyone who proposes natural ways to health without mentioning sex. Watch for my upcoming article, Sex and Longevity – How to Make your Heirs Angry.