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The Naked Truth

Sex After 50

Expert answers to your top questions

Q: I'm a 50-plus woman who used to love sex, but now I have no interest whatsoever.  Is there any kind of medication I can take to increase my sexual desire?

—Susan, Florida

A: Unfortunately, not yet.  At least one such drug is in development, but the Food and Drug Administration denied its approval earlier this year because it said the medication (an antidepressant) had no significant effect in increasing sexual desire.  But stay tuned: I have a feeling we'll see some kind of pharmaceutical product like this in the not-so-distant future.

Meanwhile, some doctors prescribe testosterone to increase female libido, even though the FDA hasn't approved it for this use.  But you might try asking your doctor what he or she thinks about that possibility.

Alternatively, some herbal, nonprescription products are on the market that might do the trick. A friend of mine took one such product that is sold at certain organic food markets and was greatly impressed.  But who knows how much of this was based on the belief that the drug would work, rather than its actual medicinal properties? 

I'd also advise you to think about possible causes for your low sex drive.  Take a good look at your overall mood: Are you depressed or anxious? Are you experiencing any other physical symptoms? Do you take hormone replacement therapy, antidepressants or any other medicines that could affect your sex drive?

I suggest making an appointment with a specialist in sexual medicine to try to get to the root of your problem.  Or if you think there's a chance there's an emotional component to all this, you should consider seeing a therapist.  I know you'd like to get your mojo back — and I'm confident you'll find a way to do so.

Q: I'm a 75-year-old man who can't maintain an erection.  I've tried all the popular erectile dysfunction pills — without any success. Is there any hope?

—Michael, New York

A: Yes, you've got a couple of choices.  One option is to get a penile implant, an inflatable device that can be pumped up to give you an erection.  This requires surgery, but men I know say that implants work extremely well, don't interfere with male orgasm and are rigid enough to be appreciated by partners.  (These are often prescribed to guys who've had prostate surgery and who've lost the ability to have an erection.)

Another option is penile injections.  This is a medicine that you literally inject into your penis; usually, it works its wonders in about 15 minutes or so.  While the idea of giving yourself a shot like that may make you cringe, a lot of men report great success with these injections.

You're insurance plan may not cover either of these treatments, and you'll need to see a urologist for both the implant and the injections. But I'd urge you not to give up hope! Modern medicine has a lot to offer in the area of sexual functioning.

Sex After 50

— Lynn Christiansen/Corbis

Q: My husband can no longer perform because of medical reasons, but I still have needs. I love him very much, but I've been without sex for two years now. Help!

—Dee, Texas

A: If you and your husband have a good relationship, he can do lots of things for you, even if he cannot have erections, has bad arthritis or some other disabling physical challenges. Unless he is totally immobilized, the two of you can touch and kiss. He can still satisfy you sexually — if both of you have the kind of communication and comfort with each other where you can tell him what you need, and he is pleased to provide it.

There is nothing inferior about intimacy through touch. Though it is different and perhaps less "connected" than having intercourse, it can certainly be enormously satisfying. Many men, even if they cannot enjoy sex themselves, are very proud and happy to help their partner be sexually fulfilled.

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