Words by: Juliette Capomolla Art by: Shreya Mishra
I think it’s safe to say that we’d all be horrified if sex wasn’t a part of our futures. The thought that, at the ripe old age of 65, I might no longer be having sex, makes me shudder. We twentysomethings are expected to be crazed hornbags (sorry, I hate that expression too) and a lot of the time, we sure as hell live up to it. But do we really want to get shacked up, be intimate for mere procreation purposes, create a sex schedule (read: only Wednesday nights at 9pm) and then eventually just never have sex again? Dearest reader, I know our answers are both a firm no.
But this is essentially what we expect of older people, is it not? It’s plain old weird if our parents have sex, let alone our grandparents! God forbid! Yet, we wouldn’t wish the same fate upon ourselves — so why do we expect this of them? If you happened to watch Binge’s new Australian series Love Me, you may remember that two of the main characters, Glen and Anita, have the most intimate and graphic sex on the show — and they’re 61 and 64 respectively IRL. It was a notable choice by producers to showcase older sex, an often unchartered territory, that did not go unnoticed by myself or reviewers alike.
Reader, I posit to you that we should be talking about older sex even more. Apparently, almost three-quarters of Australians over 60 are still having sex, so our futures are looking bright! If you’re in a couple, you’re in even better luck: couples in their sixties are still getting it on about once a week.
So, why is there this misconception that old people don’t get down and dirty? Well, there’s a number of factors that don’t necessarily facilitate sex. Firstly, older people are unfortunately more likely to be divorced or widowed — experiences after which they’re much less likely to get back on the horse. We should also take into account that their pond is a lot smaller, with a lot less fish in it: many are coupled up, some have passed on, and others are simply happy on their own. In addition to the shortage of suitable partners, there’s also the unfortunate but fact-of-life reality that older people do suffer health issues which changes the nature of their sexual experiences. For men, it might be erectile dysfunction, and for women it might be vaginal dryness — but it can also extend to your overall wellbeing. Things like arthritis, dementia, diabetes, and incontinence can all affect older people’s intimacy. Do not fret, though, because that’s not to say that sex becomes impossible. Clearly, the majority of oldies still manage to get down and dirty. It’s just about adapting to your changing bodies, and finding new ways to spice things up in the bedroom.
It turns out that our fear of oldies doing the no-pants dance is not good for anyone. STIs among older people are rising at a much faster rate than younger people, and it’s probably because we simply don’t talk about it. Not only did these baby boomers and the silent generation have a much more conservative sexual education than us youngins, we’re not including them in the discussions these days. Sure, they might not have to worry about pregnancy anymore, so why use a condom? STIs, that’s why! We don’t even mention older people in sexual health policy documents, which undoubtedly entrenches their poor sexual education.
You’re probably thinking — why do we even care about what old people are doing? Well, that’s where you and I are headed! Let’s just say that a sexless future is not on the cards for me, and I’m sure you’d be on the same wavelength. It haunts me (dramatic, much?) to think that one day, I might not want or be able to have sex. But hopefully, given our better sexual education and now knowing it’s not all doom and gloom when we hit retirement, we can rest assured knowing our next bang will certainly not be our last.