If you are over 50 and want the best that life has to offer, you probably desire a passionate, stimulating sex life. If you are under 50, you probably wonder what you have to look forward to sexually once you reach the half-century mark.

The Good News

Research clearly shows that sex after 60 can actually be better than ever. Enjoyment can increase as partners continue to share love, life, fun, and intimacy throughout the years.

A recent poll of 6,000 men and women over the age of 60 reported that 37 percent still had sex at least once a week.

A Masters and Johnson study of 250 sexually active couples found that frequency of intercourse declined only slightly between the ages of 60 and 70.

Married men in their 60s claim that they experience deeper sexual satisfaction than when they were 20 and single, while older married women admit that they are sexually happier than when they were younger (provided they have successfully dealt with the physical and emotional changes that accompany menopause).

Studies reveal that 62 percent of healthy men and 30 percent of healthy women between the ages of 80 and 102 still have sexual intercourse! Many older couples describe a satisfying sex life consisting of touching and caressing as forms of sexual expression and love toward one another, even if they don’t have intercourse.

The idea of having a full and rewarding sex life (even until we’re 100!) is, undoubtedly, appealing. Physicians, clinicians, and sex researchers know it is possible to ensure an active sex life, no matter how many birthdays we’ve had.

Seven Simple Steps That Can Ensure Continued Sexual Satisfaction

1. Cultivate your very own irresistible aphrodisiacs. A vigorous and well-cared-for body and a lively personality are two of the most powerful aphrodisiacs known to man (and woman). Best of all, you can have them with you at all times if you want them. Imagine — homegrown, ever-ready aphrodisiacs. And they’re legal, too!

Staying healthy, fit, and vibrant not only makes us outwardly attractive and alluring to others, but helps us feel sexy, desirable, and confidant as well. That confidence creates “sexual energy,” a seductive charisma guaranteed to awaken a partner’s sexual interest.

Naturally, the most obvious way to stay healthy and fit is to take care of yourself: don’t smoke, use alcohol moderately, control your blood pressure and weight, eat a well-balanced diet, get regular exercise and adequate rest. And remember, regular check-up visits to your physician must be an essential part of your sexual fitness program.

Best of all, couples who work to stay healthy together enjoy the added benefit of building emotional closeness while they share a sport or fitness activity. Taking brisk walks together, for instance, gives couples an opportunity to talk, to share ideas and feelings, and to relax their nervous systems while giving two respiratory systems and happy hearts a healthy workout.

2. Think young, fun, and — yes — sexy. When you watch someone who is enthusiastic, youthful, jovial, and having a good time, do you even notice how old that person is? Probably not. Most likely you just want to get to know that person and be part of the high spirits. And when you keep your attitude and behavior youthful and playful, you’ll be the person others are attracted to and want to know.

Often, youthful people who are over 50 feel guilty because they frequently think about sex the way they did when they were 20 years old. Surely, they fear, it must be nonsense for someone with graying hair and mature stature to have the lusty notions and urges of post-adolescence. Don’t you believe it! You’re supposed to think about sex the same way you did when you were 20; you just might not think about it as often. Nonetheless, your personal approach to sex at 50 and beyond is supposed to be as titillating, erotic, and creative as it was when you were 25. Feel and be sexual without guilt! Loosen up and be inventive! Go ahead and have more fun than you did years ago. (But always be responsible, of course.)

Seven Simple Steps That Can Ensure Continued Sexual Satisfaction Continued…

3. Plan on having good sex. As we get older, good sex also requires good timing. Are you a morning person? A night owl? What about your partner? The best time to make love is when you and your partner are the most responsive (as men mature, that time is usually in the morning). So, good sex also requires some planning.

As often as possible, clear everybody out of the house so you and your partner can be as uninhibited as you want to be. Get rid of the kids for a while; send the grandkids home to their parents (for a change!).

Once alone, take time to enjoy yourselves. Men, turn off the TV — absolutely! Turn down the lights. Or turn them all on! Why not light candles? Add music? Share the tub or shower? Play an erotic and seductive board game? Watch a romantic or sexy video?

Give each other relaxing, sensual massages. Have you ever used whipped cream in the bedroom? Peanut butter? You can’t imagine the fun you can have with ice cubes! Take off all your clothes. Or put on costumes!

Make love in the kitchen. Or on a blanket in the backyard under your favorite tree at midnight. Then do it (again) at high noon!

Let your imagination and your sense of sexual adventure lead you and your partner into a glorious world of new delights, sensations, and shared joys. When you run out of ideas, there are plenty of books and videos on the market to help you discover new ones. Sex will never be boring again. And neither will your life. All it takes is a little creativity, time, and planning. So —plan on it!

4. The cardinal rule: Just do it. And do it. And do it!. Masters and Johnson, those famous sex researchers, claimed that continuing to have sex was the “cardinal rule for preserving sexual vigor beyond middle age.” Post-menopausal women who are sexually active have less shrinkage of the vagina and higher levels of naturally produced sex hormones than do sexually inactive women. Likewise, men who are sexually active as they pass through middle age and beyond maintain higher blood testosterone levels than those who stop having sex. The bottom line? If you keep on doing it, you better ensure your likelihood of being able to keep on doing it. In other words, use it or lose it! It’s really that simple.

5. Send sex messages in as many ways as you can. The key to the best relationship is always communication. If you don’t talk about your sex life and feelings with each other, how can you get your message across and let your desires be known? Sex therapists know that a good sexual relationship is greatly enhanced and ensured by an open, communicative, caring, and affectionate relationship.

Achieving a closer, more loving relationship with your partner is a crucial component of your sexual fitness program. It’s difficult for sexual harmony to co-exist with marital distance and conflict, submerged resentment, basic incompatibility, or lack of positive feelings toward one another.

Such barriers to communication must be addressed because they increasingly inhibit sexual feelings as we grow older and as our basic biological sexual urges diminish. If poor communication is a problem in a relationship, a couple should seek the help of a therapist to develop deeper levels of intimacy, love and understanding, and greater shared physical enjoyment. The reward can be a richer, fuller, more exciting life.

Remember, too, that we also send sexy messages in very simple, ordinary ways: by being relaxed and interested in each other; by not drinking too much alcohol; by paying special attention to body and oral hygiene; and in our willingness to learn new ways to touch and please one another.

6. Expect it to be different, but expect it to be good. There’s no question: our bodies, and our bodily responses, change as we age. But those changes shouldn’t concern or worry us.

For men over 50, erections will usually be sturdy and reliable, although they might take a little longer to achieve and won’t be as hard as those of a 20-year-old. The forcefulness of ejaculation and orgasm may be slightly less than in the past, and more time may be required between repeat performances. The older man, in particular, might require more direct stimulation of his genitals to be ready for sex (unlike during his younger days, when his reaction and response was spontaneous, immediate, and frequent).

As a woman ages, her clitoris is not affected and her capacity for orgasm and sexual interest normally remains unchanged. But thinning of the vaginal walls can contribute to painful or uncomfortable intercourse, as can an inability to adequately lubricate; many of these conditions can be reversed with advice from her physician.

Understanding, accepting, and working with these minor and normal bodily changes can definitely help a couple create and enjoy a satisfying sex life. There are now many resources available to help couples with this process.

7. Get help for specific sex problems. A man’s declining interest and ability to make love are often linked to his health, and a visit to a physician is definitely in order whenever a distinct change in lovemaking becomes evident. It is not yet known whether change results because of the physical effects of illness on sexual functioning or whether illness merely alters a man’s perception of his vigor.

The perception of loss of vigor is most clearly seen in heart attack survivors. There is a false belief that it is common for people with heart conditions to die during intercourse. Rather, one study showed that only .06 percent of deaths from sudden heart attacks were caused by sexual activity and the vast majority of those cases involved extramarital affairs.

Many heart attack survivors and their partners give up sex despite the fact that there is no medical reason to do so. Some authorities maintain that sexual activity with a familiar partner puts no more demand on the heart than a brief, brisk walk or climbing two flights of stairs.

There are some common medical problems than can contribute to sexual dysfunction in those who are 50 and over: prostate problems, diabetes, depression, hypertension, backache, stress incontinence (mostly in women), and cancer, as well as effects from medicines prescribed for other illnesses. Whatever you do, don’t ignore these conditions. And remember, most can be treated without affecting sexual functioning, or you can learn how to modify your sexual behavior so sex can continue despite the problems and obstacles presented by illness.

The most common sex problems that exist today are, in fact, treatable. In men, these include erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation, and low sex desire; in women, inability to orgasm, painful intercourse, and low sex desire. Successful treatment for sex problems includes: self-help with the aid of books, videos, tapes, etc.; medical procedures; sex therapy; or a combination of these approaches.

All of us are fortunate to live in a time when we have an abundance of materials and resources available to help us become and remain sexy for the rest of our lives. Best of all, attitudes about sex, partnering, and growing older have drastically changed for the better over the years. Life-long learning is an admirable goal for everyone – and that includes learning how to be and stay sexy.

Adapted, with permission, from Dr. Anthony Fiore’s website.