Sexual health & wellbeing is important throughout your life. Learn how our sexuality grows over time & get tips on maximizing sexual enjoyment.

Chapter 12: Sexual Health & Wellness

Chapter 12: Sexual Health & Wellness - A Lifetime of Great Sex

Physical health is a major obsession in the United States. There are books, magazines, TV shows and podcasts exclusively dedicated to this topic. A recent runner-up has been mental and emotional health. Only on occasion do we give the spotlight to sexual health. Don't get me wrong, “sex” is not ignored. But in my professional opinion, sexual health could certainly get more airtime! This is because it’s just as important as all other aspects of health when it comes to your overall well-being.

Sexual health is the ability to embrace all aspects of your sexuality throughout your life. Do you have a good sense of your sexual knowledge—including your biology, physiology, and biochemistry? How do you feel about your sexual orientation, as well as your gender identity? What are your desires, fears, boundaries, beliefs, values, and attitudes towards sex, intimacy, and partnership? How comfortable do you feel expressing your eroticism? How do you feel about your body? What behaviors do you (and don't you) engage in?

Sexual health is so much about developing comfort to inhabit and express yourself as the sexual person you are – at all stages of life!

Sex in Your 20s & 30s

Sex in Your 20s and 30s

The Sexuality Information and Education Council of the United States (SIECUS) believes “that becoming a sexually healthy adult is a key developmental task of adolescence.”

The teen years are marked by a tsunami of hormones – otherwise known as puberty! This rite of passage sets the stage for a whole new normal, and what that means for your sexual and erotic self.

By the time you hit your 20s, you've more or less adjusted to your new body and brain, likely figured out the whole masturbation thing, kissed a few people, and possibly gone a bit further. Now it's time to make the most of your sexual peak years.

Exercising your erogenous zones on a regular basis is a good idea for multiple reasons. Arousal builds up in your body and giving it an outlet – with yourself and/or another person – helps keep everything flowing well. For those with a penis, this means “flushing the pipes” from time to time. For those with a vulva, this means regularly making friends with your clitoris.

Many people at these age levels start forming long-term, monogamous relationships. A sexually exclusive relationship can function as a safe container to practice being intimate and vulnerable with another person. This is a time to explore and experiment with new sexual activities and continue learning about your body and turn-ons. All this helps create comfort in your own skin, leading to a more positive body image and increased levels of confidence.

Not everyone chooses to have sex in a loving partnership marriage. Some people choose to engage more casually with multiple partners. Having a diversity of experiences can be enormously erotic for some people. That said, we live in a hook-up culture that often supports many casual lovers but discourages vulnerable or intimate conversation. If casual is your way, it's still important to have enough partner trust to ensure enthusiastic consent, safe practice to prevent STDs, and enough conversation to engage in what turns you on while avoiding what turns you off. When we bypass critical components like consent, body safety, and turns ons, we are left feeling disappointed and perhaps even in distress or despair. So be in charge of who you want to be with, what you want with that person, and how you want to express yourself. If your partner doesn't respect that, move on.

No matter your choice of lover, sex of any kind in your 20s can be an effective and erotic way to explore your sexuality.

Sex in Your 40s & 50s

Sex in Your 40s & 50s

By middle-age, many people are familiar with their body and their sexual desires. They’re able to leverage this knowledge into having some of the best sex of their lives. Most people at this stage know what they want sexually, and they’re not afraid to go out and get it. This can even lead to kinkier sex as many couples start experimenting with things they considered taboo when they were younger.

On the other hand, sex might require a little more work than it used to. Many couples find they need to spend more time on foreplay to set the mood due to decreasing hormone levels. It’s also increasingly important for you to focus on your general health by exercising on a regular basis. You’ll need the cardio, strength, and flexibility to handle all the wild things you may want to try in bed!

One of the biggest impacts on your sexual health during this time period is age itself. Many men and women in their 50s start noticing that their body isn’t responding to sex like it used to. Men might notice that their penis seems a little shorter than they remember. It might not be as hard as it used to be, and they might need more “recovery” time between ejaculation. Women might find it difficult to get lubricated enough for comfortable penetration.

For long-term couples, the monogamy may feel monotonous. The decline in desire for either or both partners may require a creative, erotic re-charge. Need tips? Re-read some of our previous chapters!

Sex in Your 60s & Beyond

Sex in Your 60s & Beyond

Our society de-sexualizes older folks. This is a travesty because sex in older years is rife with meaning, intimacy, and for the creative couples, enhanced eroticism. Erections, ejaculation, and orgasms may take much longer to access, but these couples have mastered the art of pleasure. They recognize that sex is not solely the dance of nimble genitals. Rather, sex is the dance of pure sensuality (yes, younger couples, take notes from your elders.)

That said, men who do need medical support to achieve and maintain an erection can use PD5 inhibitor medications. Women who have vaginal dryness can use a variety of different lubes or oils. It goes without saying that extensive foreplay is a key player for optimum pleasure and sexual function.

Two common issues many seniors face during sex include diminished flexibility and/or chronic pain. As we get older, our body and joints don’t work like they used to. If this is a situation you’re dealing with, then Adam & Eve has some great sex furniture that can help support a wide variety of sex positions for ease and comfort.

The Liberator Ramp & Wedge can be used together in virtually any position. With an average rating of 4.7 out of 5 stars, it’s one of the highest-rated products on AdamEve.com. One reviewer noted, “(Wife) thought I was crazy till we tried it out. Now she is the one chasing me through the house wanting to try new positions all the time." Another commented, “...my wife had a complete hip replacement done. We are re-discovering some old positions and finding all kinds of new.”

Adam & Eve Inflatable Position Pillow

If you’d like something a little more affordable, then check out the Inflatable Position Pillow from Adam & Eve. As the name suggests, you do have to inflate this piece of sex furniture for playtime and deflate it afterwards. This, however, makes it much easier to store when not in use and makes it much more affordable than the Liberator set.

Dealing with Erectile Dysfunction

Men in their 60s may certainly have higher odds of experiencing erection struggles; however, all guys run into an erection problem at some point in their lives. Alcohol, stress, and countless other factors can make getting an erection difficult at times. This doesn’t mean you have clinical erectile dysfunction (ED).

ED, clinically defined, is the persistent inability to get and maintain an erection firm enough for penetration. It’s usually caused by medical issues, such as heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes, and even certain prescription medications. Regular exercise, a healthy lifestyle, and carefully managing any existing health conditions can do a lot to combat ED. Your doctor is sure to have several helpful tips for you, which is why it’s important to discuss this and any other sexual or health issue you might have with them.

If you’re struggling with erection issues, Adam & Eve has several different options to help you out (just to be clear, these items will not cure ED or give you an erection. They just help you use your current erection more effectively).

Let’s start with penis pumps. These items form a vacuum around your penis, which pulls extra blood into your shaft. This extra blood makes your shaft firmer, which can make penetration easier. The extra blood might cause your shaft to swell up for extra girth as well. This effect is most noticeable in more slender penises. Sound great so far? Well, there’s a not-so-little problem here. When you remove the penis pump and try to put your erection to good use, your new-found gains can go away fairly quickly.

That’s where penis rings come in. These snug-fitting rings fit securely around the bottom of your shaft. They act like a constrictor bandage to reduce blood flow. This helps keep the extra blood from your pumping session in your shaft so you can maintain your newfound hardness for longer periods of time. Since they restrain blood flow, you should only wear a penis ring for a limited amount of time – roughly 15-20 minutes depending on how tight it is. Tighter-fitting rings should be worn for shorter periods of time.

Adam & Eve Starter Penis Pump

Adam & Eve offers multiple options of both products from which you can pick. The Starter Pump is a great option for beginners. This budget-friendly penis pump features a smooth silicone entry for a tight vacuum seal, ergonomic pumping handle, and measurements on the side so you can track your progress. The Max Results Pump features a bigger cylinder to fit larger guys as well as a redesigned pumping handle and mechanism for superior suction. The American Pumpers Association graded it “Superior” for its quality and effectiveness.

When it comes to penis rings, there are even more options out there. The RingO Erection Ring Set contains three different-sized rings to fit guys of all sizes. If you’ve never used a penis ring before, the largest ring is a great way to adjust to their unique feel before trying one of the smaller rings for more effective results.

Adam & Eve Couple’s Enhancer Penis Ring

But I strongly recommend getting a vibrating one like the Big O Multi-Stage Vibrating Penis Ring or the Couple’s Enhancer Ring. Both of these rings come with a bullet vibrator in the top. The bullet sends powerful vibrations through dozens of ticklers and teasers to tease your lover’s sweet spots during sex and your shaft too. The thrilling stimulation is just what you need to push your lover over the edge into a screaming O!

Lastly, if pumps, rings, or even medications do not support your elusive erection, reach out to a certified sex therapist. Many men know that their erection issues are more psychological and/or relational. A sex therapist can help with that anxiety and support the man towards getting his erections back on board.

Pregnancy & Sex

Pregnancy & Sex

Many couples experience pregnancy together at some point in their lives. Pregnant women can feel a multitude of sensations and emotions that either help or hinder their sex lives. Some women love basking in the beauty of their belly and enjoy their changing form and enlarged breasts. Some women struggle with this change, especially if they are having uncomfortable nausea symptoms that can typically accompany pregnancy. Others have raging hormones, making them feel the horniest they've ever felt. These women report having the best sex of their lives when pregnant. That said, some women may experience a severe decline in sexual desire, or even have painful intercourse because the pelvic floor gets readjusted with the changes in the uterine and cervical environment. All of the above circumstances are common. If pregnancy is uncomfortable or lacks eroticism for you or your partner, then remember it's a very time-limited window in your whole lifespan.

One of the most frequent questions couples ask is, “How safe is it to have sex during pregnancy?” The answer varies based on the type of sex you are having (i.e. manual, oral, penetration, etc.), and the type of pregnancy you are having. But typically, it’s perfectly safe!

Your developing child is protected by the muscles in the abdomen, uterus, and amniotic fluid. You don’t have to worry about a penis, a finger, or a toy penetrating through or causing harm. Most doctors recommend regular sex during pregnancy to help keep the couples connected. There are several handbooks and guides to help you navigate comfortable positions for pregnant sex as well. Pillows will be your new best friend!

As a side note—you should not engage in penetration during pregnancy if you’re at risk for preterm labor. There are a few other medical situations that require abstinence, so it's worth talking with your doctor.

After delivery, couples need to wait at least six weeks to attempt penetration. Some women need longer depending on the type and difficulty of delivery. Birth is beautiful, but can also be incredibly stressful, physically and mentally. The 6-week minimum “penetration pause” gives the body time to recover so you’ll be able to better enjoy it later. It also gives you some time to adjust to the joys (and stresses) of having a newborn in your life.

Postpartum stress affects our mind and body. A support system of family, friends, or even a therapist helping you through any postpartum depression, anxiety, or overwhelming emotions is essential. Remember, sexual desire is so much about the brain getting turned on. If we are battling difficult emotions, sex might be the last thing we consider.

Because many women experience pain with intercourse during the postpartum weeks or even months, many new mamas need vaginal and pelvic floor support. Pelvic floor physical therapists can be an outstanding resource for recalibrating the pelvic floor back to normal. For those looking to do at-home healing, consider Ben Wa balls. These can be useful during and after pregnancy. These small, hard balls are like mini weights for your vagina. You insert the balls inside your vagina and simply start squeezing them to help strengthen and tighten your pelvic floor. The Scarlet Couture Glass Duo Balls are made from stunning black glass with a red silicone harness for easy removal. They make a sexy and stylish addition to your toy chest.

If glass isn’t your thing, then check out Eve’s Kegel Training Set. This kinky set comes with different weighted balls so you can give those Kegel muscles a real workout that becomes more intense as you gain experience.

Lastly, for couples who experience a scarcity of sexual activity during pregnancy or in postpartum weeks/months, it's important to keep emotionally supporting each other and maintain the flirting. Masturbation and/or mutual masturbation can come in “handy” here!

Sex During & After Menopause

Women face their own sexual challenges from aging in the form of menopause. Most women start menopause anywhere between the ages of 40 and 58, depending on their overall health and family history. On a very rare occasion, some women start super early in their 30s or much later in their 60s. The onset of menopause causes lots of changes to the body including irregular periods, vaginal dryness, hot/cold flashes, mood changes, and slowing metabolism.

As you go through menopause, you’ll naturally experience widely fluctuating hormone levels. This can impact your sex life in different ways. Some women find menopause liberating since they no longer have to worry about becoming pregnant. Others report having less interest in sex and have a harder time becoming aroused. If you find your desire or arousal decreasing due to menopause, foreplay can be a huge help. You’ll probably need to spend more time on it than it used to take, but the results are definitely worthwhile.

Vaginal dryness is another issue many women experience during and after menopause. While there are some prescription medications to help with this issue, a good-quality lube like Adam & Eve Lubricant can be pretty effective on its own. Adam & Eve has sold over 750,000 bottles with an average rating of 4.4 out of 5 stars, so it comes highly recommended by myself and other customers like you.

Another common issue during menopause that can impact your sex life is incontinence. Your pelvic floor muscles weaken as you age, especially if you have had multiple pregnancies. These weaker muscles can impact your bladder, usually at the worst possible moments.

Scarlet Couture Glass Duo Ben Wa Balls

Kegel exercises and Ben Wa balls, which I discussed earlier, can help with this. The Scarlet Couture Glass Duo Balls and Eve’s Kegel Training Set are my go-to options for their ease of use and flexibility. For other women, seeking the support of a well-trained pelvic floor physical therapist is required. If you find yourself experiencing more intense sexual issues due to menopause, talk to your personal physician, and maybe a certified sex therapist as well. They can review all the different options available to develop a comprehensive plan to help.

Women & Discomfort During Sex

Women in menopause frequently feel pain with penetration due to a changing hormonal environment. However, just like ED for men, women of all ages may experience pain at some point.

Pain during penetration can range from mild discomfort, all the way to the vaginal canal completely closing off and not allowing entry. Dyspareunia is the general umbrella term for pain associated with intercourse. There can be either deep vaginal pain, shallow pain, or pain upon entry. This can feel like itching all the way to tearing and burning.

As many as 60% of women have suffered with some form of pain with penetration at some point in their life. The job of the pelvic floor physical therapist is to focus solely on the relief of these issues. Integrated with sex therapy, most women are able to heal and have enjoyable penetration again.

Cancer, Chronic Illness & Pain

At some point, all of us encounter the challenge of cancer, chronic illness, and/or chronic pain. Navigating how your body works, and developing a game plan to create comfortable, easeful, and maybe non-penetrative sex is key. There may be a grief period over the loss of how you used to function. This is normal. And, developing a “new normal” for enhancing pleasure is the task we now encounter. There are many resources for sex and cancer or chronic pain. The cheesecake model we discussed in Chapter 9 will also help immensely. You may be surprised by how your ear can learn to have an orgasm!

Kegel Exercises For All

kegel exercise

Kegels are popularly recommended for pregnant and older women who want to keep their vagina in shape, as well as men recovering from prostate cancer. However, Kegel exercises are something that all people of all ages can benefit from. Kegel exercises target the muscles in your pelvic floor. No matter your genitals, strengthening the pelvic floor can help with bladder issues, as well as intensifying your orgasm. For women, this can may mean multiple orgasms or more vaginal sensation. For men, this might mean lasting longer before ejaculation. Men, keep in mind that while strengthening the pelvic floor is helpful for controlling ejaculation, the key to lasting longer is learning how to relax the pelvic floor.

While Kegel exercises are pretty simple in theory, they can be a little challenging to do. Follow these simple steps for success:

  1. Start by identifying your pelvic floor and PC (aka Kegel) muscles. This can be the most challenging part since most people aren’t familiar with them. You can find your pelvic floor muscles by peeing. Simply start and stop mid-stream until you get used to the sensation.
  2. Next, practice squeezing those muscles outside the bathroom so you have a good sense of how to squeeze and release. You may need to imagine you are squeezing upward, as if you’re trying to pull an object up inside your genital region. If you have a vagina, this step is much easier when you’re using an actual object like a Ben Wa ball.
  3. Practice squeezing for three seconds before releasing and relaxing your muscles. Remember, the release and relaxation are just as important as the squeeze. Do this 10 times in a row.
  4. You can repeat this exercise three times a day, and often experience good results in a matter of three short weeks. If your pelvic floor had more injury or impact, you may need to do this consistently for a few months.

In Closing

I hope you enjoyed your journey towards better sex. My hope is that you gained some new insight into sex – from how to think about it as a pleasure-forward activity, to how to play with yourself and your partner with more ease and eroticism. There is so much rich terrain to experience in the world of sexuality. You have a whole body to explore, and a whole brain rife with fantasies. Remember, when it comes to sex, you can't go wrong if you follow the path of pleasure.

And Adam & Eve has been right there with you for the past 50 years! Yes, 50 years! When it comes to jazzing up your love life, sex toys may not solve everything, but in my opinion, they are an essential asset to have by your bedside. Don't know where to start or what to buy? This book has you covered with the best sex toys that can accompany all the possible activities or pleasure and play. Because it's our 50th anniversary, you can help us start the celebration by saving up to 35% and get free standard shipping at Adam & Eve by clicking this special link!

Happy shopping as you enter the next chapter of your best sex life!

-Dr. Jenni