How Does Sexual Functioning Change As We Age?

Aging leads to changes in bodily appearance and organ functioning, lower levels of pituitary hormones, and a higher incidence of illness, injury, disease and chronic pain involving multiple prescriptions for pharmaceutical medications. These bodily changes, along with emotionally stressful life events, e.g., retirement, empty nest, loss of partner, or caring for elderly parents, may adversely affect sexual functioning.

Women

As women enter menopause, no longer ovulate, and their estrogen, progesterone and testosterone levels drop, many experience decreased desire for and arousal during sexual activity combined with less powerful orgasms or even inability to attain orgasm. Physiologic changes may include:

o decreased lubrication leading to vaginal dryness and pain
o atrophy or expansion of vaginal tissues
o decreased elevation of the uterus
o reduced muscle tension with few orgasmic contractions
o rapid decrease in arousal after orgasm
o reduced spread of sex flush
o decreased sexual desire and arousal

Men

As males age, decreased testosterone and testicular function, lowered sperm count, enlarged prostate, and reduced muscle tension often cause men to require greater stimulation to become aroused, have less frequent and more easily diminished arousal, decreased sensation, less powerful orgasms, and becoming tired or exhausted for some time after orgasm and ejaculation. Physiologic changes include:

o delayed and less firm penile and nipple erection
o longer excitement phase and longer interval until ejaculation
o decreased pre ejaulatory emissions
o diminished lifting of scrotum and testes
o more rapid return to pre arousal state
o shorter ejaculation time with reduced volume and fewer contractions
o shortened phase of impending orgasm and expulsion of semen
o more rapid loss of erection and longer refractory period

How Can Sexual Functioning and Enjoyment Continue Throughout Life?

As we age, there are some gradual declines in the response rate and reactions of many of our bodily organs and tissues. However, our bodies continue to respond to stimulation as long as we are breathing, our brain is functioning normally, and our heart is pumping.
Having a sexual problem is not unlike having any other type of physical or emotional problem. There is a cause, either physiological, psychological, or a combination of both.

Recommendations for Treatment to Overcome Sexual Problem

o Make an appointment with the appropriate medical doctor to have an evaluation of your physiology: hormone levels, blood vessels, blood flow, acute or chronic infections or other diseases. Depending on your gender and what the specific problem is, you may choose to see a gynecologist, urologist, endocrinologist, internist, gastroenterologist, oncologist, etc.

o Make an appointment with the appropriate psychotherapist (preferably someone who is also certified to provide sexual counseling or sex therapy) for evaluation of your psychological, emotional, mental and spiritual state. Depending on what you believe is the primary issue (your relationship, your family situation, your own self image or sexual concerns, your own religious or spiritual conflicts), you may choose to see a Marriage and Family Therapist, a Mental Health Counselor or Professional Counselor, a Social Worker, or a Psychologist.

o If your mental and emotional concerns are severely interfering with your ability to function in your everyday life, you probably should consult with a psychiatrist who can evaluate you and provide appropriate medications to alleviate your overwhelming symptoms. Then, you may be better able to gain insight and the capability of overcoming your problems if you also work with a psychotherapist.

o If you are courageous and really want to overcome a long term physical problem (such as a woman having vaginal pain or vaginnismus), you may choose to see a physical therapist who is trained to work with pelvic floor dysfunctions.

o Work with a body therapist, someone who is trained to alleviate neuromuscular tensions and other body dysfunctions. You may be surprised how many physical problems in distant parts of your body are related to your current sexual problem.

The Turkish ‘Kinsey Report’, Part 3 – First Time Sex

Turkish Sexuality Survey Question —
How would you describe your first sexual experience?

As Metin Üstündag was saying in Part 2…

Until recently, Turkish kids got their sex education in a very haphazard manner — with mostly bad results. My generation was luckier, in some ways — because of what happened in the mid-1970’s in Yesilcam (Turkey’s Hollywood-like film capital located in Istanbul).

The Turkish Erotic Films industry was born (and thrived) during that time and it provided my generation with a sex education, of sorts — though it fell well short of being authoritative. What could we expect? In the role of our sex educator was a porn star, Aydemir Akbas (now a legitimate actor at age 70, who has more than 95 films to his credit). And when he’d leer sexily at the women in those early films, they’d immediately begin to moan with exaggerated desire. In fact, those films probably did more to a develop our sense of humor about sex, than they did to educate us about its ‘finer points’.

Headlines from the sexuality survey…

  • 6 of 10 virgin couples felt ‘excitement’ at the thought of their first sexual congress as partners.
  • 23% of those surveyed felt ‘lust’ during their first sexual experience. The second most mentioned feeling was ‘nervousness’ — noted by 10.6% of participants.
  • Of those citing a feeling of ‘lust’ during their first sexual experience, most were aged 16-34
  • Men (6.2%) more than women (4.9%) described their first sexual experiences as ‘fatiguing’.
  • Slightly more women (9.9%) than men (8.8%) described their first sexual experience with ‘repugnance, guilt, or anger.’ And…
  • Of the more educated women in the survey, one-third of High School finishers and an equal percentage of University graduates were definite in describing their first sexual experiences as ‘unpleasant’, even ‘bad’. But…
  • Men and women equally (6.8%) said their first sexual experience made them “feel safe and secure.”
  • The 4 most-favored places for first-time sex were:

    1) One’s own home (Male – 43%, Female – 82% )

    2) Someone else’s home (M – 18%, F – 7% )

    3) A hotel (M – 9%, F – 3% )

    4) A brothel (M – 20%, F – 0% )

  • First-time sex-partners fell into three main categories:

    1) Husband/wife (Male – 25%, Female – 81% )

    2) Boyfriend/girlfriend (M – 27%, F – 13% )

    3) Prostitutes (M – 27%, F – 0% )

  • Among the celebrities polled, we were drawn to the ‘first time sex’ observations of the full-blooded veteran-actress Müjde Ar and the multi-talented Hülya Avsar…

    Film and TV Actress Müjde Ar

    It’s probably not fair to generalize about men. And, I don’t believe that every pubescent child rings at the door of a brothel — though life is faster and bolder in the big cities these days. As for the subject of the first sexual experience, in my opinion, a man’s greatest fear…is that his nervousness will show!

    All-round Entertainer Hülya Avsar

    I didn’t feel any nervousness, I felt excitement. That’s got much to do with the partner you’re with — and how the man makes you feel. I didn’t suffer a bit at the crucial moment. Afterwards, I had to hear it from him that I was no longer a virgin.

    In Part 4: More headlines from the Turkish ‘Kinsey Report’ — and answers to the Sexuality Survey Question, ‘How old were you when you had your first sexual relationship?

    Click following to access a fully illustrated HTML version of Turkish Sexuality Survey — First Time Sex

    Film Noir Influence in The Virgin Suicides

    Teenage suicide was not unheard of before the nineteen-nineties, but its growing instances during this period led people to acknowledge the problem. Schools even started publishing materials to educate students and parents about the phenomena. The Virgin Suicides confronts this delicate topic straightforward. Sofia Coppola blends elements of her own style with those of classic film noir to show how these young individuals become so alienated in a world they barely know or understand. Through the eyes of five sheltered teenage girls, Coppola opens up a dark universe of isolation.

    From the start of the film, it is acknowledged that the five Lisbon girls all died before they made it to adulthood. A small group of boys, now men, from the Lisbon’s neighborhood have never forgotten about the mysterious sisters whom they have never come to completely figure out. One of the men narrates the film and informs the viewer that he and his friends still gather at every high school reunion and birthday party to discuss the fate of the Lisbon girls.

    The film then flashes back to their childhood circa 1975, and introduces the girls as they get out of their family’s station wagon. Cecilia is the youngest at 13, preceded by Lux, Bonnie, Mary, and Therese whom were all one year older than another. All of the girls seem so young, innocent, and beautiful. However, it is soon revealed that Cecilia has just gotten out of the hospital after an attempted suicide.

    Cecilia begins seeing a therapist who recommends that the strict Lisbon’s allow their daughters to have a party to cheer the girls up and enable them to interact with boys and girls their own age. Cecilia is upset by a group of her peers making fun of a child with Down syndrome. She feels that she will never really belong to society either, and so she runs upstairs and jumps from her window. Her second attempt at suicide is successful since she lands on a pointed, wrought iron fence. The rest of the film deals with the Lisbon’s struggle to cope with this new reality. In the end, the remaining sisters decide that Cecilia was right about the world being a bleak and lonely place where existence itself is futile, and so they decide to join her by taking their own lives.

    Although The Virgin Suicides is by no means a classic film noir, it is undeniable that Coppola was influenced by the ideas that it brings to mind. The mood of some scenes, for example, has parallels with that of film noir. After all, Coppola intends to bring the audience to the bizarre and heavy world in which these doomed girls live. Both of the suicide scenes and the scene when Trip leaves Lux in the middle of the football field after having sex with her evoke a sense of uneasiness and inconceivability that is definitely characteristic of film noir. The Virgin Suicides is also influenced by noir themes and style. The film is primarily about these teenage girls feeling separated from the crowd, cooped up in the half-reality that was their home. Everything about the Lisbon house is drab and gray. There is never direct sunlight, or high-key lighting inside the Lisbon home. It is as if the girls are covered in cobwebs like little china dolls being preserved in a basement somewhere. Coppola uses light throughout the film to symbolize life and change, like the cuts to outdoor time-lapsed shots with the sun glowing in the background. This also shows that things outside are changing, but the Lisbon girls are forced to remain stagnant in their rooms.

    The Virgin Suicides also boasts a particularly edgy score for the time period it was meant to represent. Track titles include “Cemetery Party”, “Dirty Trip”, and “Bathroom Girl.” These are songs Mrs. Lisbon would most definitely not allow her children to listen to. Coppola even makes a point of this by showing Lux burning all of her rock CD’s at the hands of her mother. This represents the authority the girls’ parents still have over their lives, but the score still playing throughout the movie represents their struggle to make a place for themselves. Perhaps the girls would have made it and they were simply being suffocated. More likely, however, is that the girls saw no hope in living for a future they saw as lonely, awkward, and unfulfilling.

    The Virgin Suicides also departs from noir, and more modern filmmaking conventions are noticed. Lux Lisbon is not the classic femme fatale of film noir. She knows her sex appeal and that she can use it to her advantage, yet she is not trying to deceive the men she sleeps with. Lux is simply trying to justify what happened with Trip. She had sex with him after their Homecoming dance because she thought he cared about her, and then he just left her asleep on the football field. Lux, being only fifteen years old, was really affected by this. She then reacts by trying to prove to herself that sex means nothing. Then it would be okay if she lost her virginity to Trip for no good reason.

    The story of the ill-fated Lisbon sisters needed to be told in a modern context, while the world they live in and the experiences they have are sometimes noir. Therefore, a true infusion of a few different styles and genres were required. Sofia Coppola does a wonderful job of mixing conventions of film noir with her own thematic style in the direction of The Virgin Suicides. The music and lighting of the film are akin to noir, as is the general theme of the film and it’s setting where days blend together and even sex is meaningless. However, none of the sisters quite resemble a classic femme fatale. Also, the boys may be like junior detectives, but they have no ulterior or hidden motives. Their respect and wonderment of the Lisbon sisters is sincere, and that is something that cannot exist in a film noir.