By Marie Cameron
Sunday, April 17, 2011
Sex after menopause brings more than pleasure. It lowers blood pressure, boosts immunity and reduces pain, according to a mass of evidence that has been piling up in recent years.
Sex reduces pain. An orgasm releases the hormones oxytocin and endorphins (the brain's pain and anxiety reliever) so that pain declines. This means that the pain from arthritis, headaches and most other pain is reduced, according to a study published in the Bulletin of Experimental Biology and Medicine.
Oxytocin has other benefits too. Its release promotes deep, rapid-eye-movement (or REM) sleep. Good sleep is linked to such benefits as maintaining a healthy weight and lowering blood pressure.
At a conference on aging a couple of years ago, I heard a psychologist say women who ignore or repress their sexual needs are more vulnerable to behaviors like smoking, overeating or taking prescription drugs to relax.
The need for sexual contact lasts a lifetime. Older women may feel anxious due to changes in their bodies that have come with advancing age. Yet, there's plenty of advice for vaginal dryness and other sexual issues older women sometimes have.
Many lubricants such as K-Y Jelly alleviate dryness very well and are available at any drug store. They are applied to the labia and penis before penetration to assure easy entrance and pain-free thrusting.
It's also important to communicate your changing needs. Few men understand what it takes for a woman to come to orgasm. Don't be shy. Your lover wants to satisfy you but can't if you're not open about what's best for you. Only 20 percent of women can have an orgasm through vaginal penetration. Most women need direct stimulation to the clitoris.
With all the benefits and pleasures of sex after menopause we can be assured that sexual activity is life-giving and a pleasure to enjoy throughout our lives.
Marie Arlene Cameron has a master's degree in public health from the University of California at Los Angeles and 18 years of experience in health care administration. She has written the book, "Rebooting Your Life – A Women's Guide to Being Vital, Productive and Sexy After 55" and blogs at Reboot Your Life Today.
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