Daily Archives: November 10, 2010

8 Reasons Sex Is Better After 50 (or, “You can have the greatest sex life on earth”)

I think one of the best ministry activities in which Barb and I have worked together during our 37 years of marriage and 53 years of friendship, is our book His Brain, Her Brain: How divinely designed differences can strengthen your marriage. (signed copies for gifts are available here).

His Brain, Her Brain

The topic of sex in the marriage relationship is one that is so critical to the health of the marriage, that we spent two (yes, count ’em, two) chapters on the topic. So, to our readers who agree, and who are near or past that half-centrury mark, we thought you might find this article by Amanda Gardner that was posted on Health.com to be both an encouragement and helpful:

Sex after menopause? Some experts will tell you it’s a downhill ride of waning sex drive and dried up hormones.

Sorry, we’re not buying it. We happen to think there are plenty of 50-plus babes who are rocking it just as much as in their younger days. (See Madonna.) And there’s no reason the rest of us shouldn’t too.

“You’re not bothered by menses. You’re not bothered by kids in the house. You can have sex in any room in the house,” says Irwin Goldstein, MD, the director of San Diego Sexual Medicine at Alvarado Hospital. “You can have the greatest sex life on earth.”

1) No pregnancy worries

Sex in your 40s can be great, but you may still be making school lunches, wiping noses, juggling a career, and trying to avoid pregnancy.

“Forty to fifty is still an anxiety point for many women because you can still get pregnant,” says Margaret E. Wierman, MD, a professor of medicine, physiology, and biophysics at the University of Colorado Health Sciences Center, in Denver. “Once you’re menopausal, that worry is gone.”

Think about it—no tampons, pads, pills, diaphragms, IUDs, or condoms (if you have a long-term monogamous partner). What could be better?

2) Coitus un-interruptus

After 50, your kids aren’t likely to be interrupting any bedroom sessions or waking you up in the middle of the night.

“Time is a huge factor,” says Amanda Richards, MD, an associate professor of obstetrics and gynecology at the University of Miami’s Miller School of Medicine.

“Even menopausal women who are mothers are usually no longer the classic soccer mom,” she says. “Children are more independent, and the couple has more time for themselves and their relationship.”

3) You know what you want

Think Mrs. Robinson in The Graduate. Older babes know what they want in the bedroom and don’t have to be shy about it.

“Menopause is a very defining time for most women, many of whom realize that they have put their sexuality on the back burner for way too long, and if they don’t use it, they will lose it for good,” says Dr. Richards.

“There’s some data to suggest that women become less inhibited as they age, so it’s often a time of relaxation and being comfortable with who you are, and that often improves sexual functioning and sexual performance,” says Dr. Wierman.

4) You may want it more

Experts will tell you that declining hormones could mean you’ll want it less, but that isn’t necessarily so. Desire, once quelled by birth control pills, could resurge, says Dr. Richards.

And if desire is a problem, proper hormone management can help, she says. While long-term use of traditional hormone replacement therapies, which include estrogen and progestin, are no longer recommended due to the heart and health risks, there are other options.

Hormone therapies that include testosterone are being explored as a way to boost libido, says Dr. Richards.

5) You’re financially stable

Now’s the time to reap the real benefits of years of endless mortgage payments: You can have sex anywhere you want in your paid-off home and you can do it in pricey, alluring lingerie, if you want to.

Older women tend to have more disposable income to spend on dinner dates and romantic getaways than they did in their younger years, says Dr. Richards.

You’ve worked hard; now’s the time to spend a little on your love life.

6) Lubricants, anyone?

It’s true that the hormonal changes of midlife can lead to vaginal dryness.

But this can be an excuse to experiment and discover new, more pleasurable experiences, courtesy of the lubricant aisle at your local drugstore.

“Vaginal dryness after menopause may encourage woman to experiment with vaginal lubricants designed to promote vasodilation and thus increase pleasure, such as K-Y Intense,” says Dr. Richards.

7) Your career is stable

Sure, you still may get stressed. But hopefully at this age, you won’t feel as stressed by your job as you did in your 20s, 30s, or 40s.

“Menopausal women are more likely to have achieved their career goals and therefore feel less stressed,” Dr. Richards says. “Stress has a very negative effect on sexual desire.”

8) Spouse problems can be fixed

“One of the worst nightmares for a woman in menopause is to have the freedom to have sex anywhere but to have a partner who can’t perform anywhere,” says Dr. Goldstein.

Whatever the problem—premature ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, low hormones—there’s a treatment, compliments of modern medicine.

Unresolved sexual problems can even have a silver lining. “Menopausal woman may have more mature partners, who, due to performance issues, are open to the use of vibrators for a more satisfying sexual experience,” Dr. Richards says.

Gum Disease Treatment Recommended During Pregnancy

One of the joys for me in being a family physician is the honor I have had to attend the births of over 1500 of my patients. There’s nothing quite like the experience (indeed, the miracle) of a birth. And, arriving at a safe and healthy birth involves a lot of prenatal prayer and excellent care. As part of my prenatal care, I’ve emphasized to women the critical value of brushing and flossing. Most of my patients did not know:

(1) gum disease can be prevented,

(2) gum disease can be safely treated during pregnancy, and

(3) preventing or treating gum disease in pregnancy significantly reduces the risk of premature birth associated with periodontal disease.

Here’ s the latest article on the the most recent study looking at treating gum disease in pregnancy:

“The present study has potential implications” for the calculations dentists make when deciding whether to treat gum disease during pregnancy, the researhers write in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology.

Gum disease – typically caused by a bacterial infection that deteriorates gum tissue and leaves it chronically inflamed – is a particular problem during pregnancy. Hormonal changes appear to make a pregnant woman more susceptible to developing it, yet the standard tetracycline-based therapy is not recommended because of its risk to the baby.

Nevertheless, considerable evidence points to gum disease itself raising the risk of premature birth.

Dr. Marjorie Jeffcoat of the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Dental Medicine and her colleagues wanted to know if treating pregnant women with periodontal disease using non-drug methods would reduce their risk of early delivery.

The group recruited 322 pregnant women with gum disease for the study. Participants were randomly assigned to receive active treatment in the form of an aggressive teeth-cleaning method – known as scaling and planning – plus oral hygiene education, or to get oral hygiene education alone. (After delivery of their babies, all study participants were offered treatment for their gum disease.)

At the study’s conclusion, the researchers found no statistically significant difference in the number of premature births among the women who had been treated and the ones who were not. Of the untreated women, 52.4 percent delivered early, while 45.6 percent of women getting treatment had early births.

On closer analysis, however, treatment – when it was successful in curing the gum disease – appeared to reduce the likelihood of an early delivery considerably; “a very exciting finding,” Jeffcoat said.

Among the women in the treatment group, 42 were treated successfully, meaning that on a second dental exam, their gum inflammation had disappeared and the separation of their gums from the teeth had not progressed any further. One hundred and eleven women in the treatment group continued to show signs of gum disease, representing unsuccessful treatment.

Just four of the 42 successfully treated women, or 10.5 percent, delivered prematurely compared to 69 premature deliveries, or 62 percent, among the 111 women who failed treatment.

The researchers conclude that their results confirm the non-drug treatment method is safe and associated with reduced risk of premature birth.

“It is appropriate for obstetricians to refer patients who require dental care to the dentist,” they write.

“It’s not enough to treat periodontal disease, however,” Jeffcoat told Reuters Health. “The treatment must be ‘successful’ and why the scaling and planing treatment was successful in some women and not others isn’t known yet.”

Studies to answer those questions are currently underway.

For Healthcare Professionals Who Volunteer: You May Not Be Considered a Good Samaritan

As the Medical Director of a clinic for uninsured adults in Colorado Springs — Mission Medical Clinic, a clinic sponsored by over 100 churches and staffed by over 250 volunteers — I’m often asked to speak around the country on our work and our ministry. A not uncommon comment from our volunteers, staff, and healthcare professionals to whom I speak goes something like this: “I guess since I’m volunteering my care, I don’t need professional liability insurance, correct? I mean, after all, don’t the Good Samaritan laws protect me?” In a word, “No.” Continue reading