Sex is the one biological process that is completely necessary for the perpetuation of humankind. We, as a race, can eat well, sleep well, drink well, and even love well, but without the capacity to reproduce we cannot continue beyond a single generation. Yet the reproductive component of sex sometimes takes a backseat to more complicated subjects such as intimacy, love, and sexual gratification when considering sex across different stages of life. Indeed, John Barrymore (n.d.), the great profile, once quipped, “Sex: the thing that takes up the least amount of time and causes the most amount of trouble” (p. 2). However emotionally and psychologically complicated sexual intercourse might be, sex still maintains a prominent and even necessary position in human lives from adolescences, through disabilities, and into the later years.
The earlier a person dates during adolescence the greater chance that they will engage in sex during high school (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). Teens who engage in sexual intercourse earlier are also at higher risk for unwanted pregnancies. If a teen is found in the position of unwanted pregnancy and decides to keep the child, then they are more likely to have to abandon school before graduation. Nevertheless, these statistics do not mandate that early adolescent sexual relationships all end in an unwanted pregnancy and the loss of education. Quite the opposite, the aforementioned numbers simply serve to highlight the fact that there is a foreseeable pattern of events that can lead to unwanted, teenage pregnancies.
In order to beat the odds certain precautions must be taken to ensure both physical and mental stability throughout the adolescent years and into the young adult years. It might also be helpful to know that about 24% of teen women sampled in a particular study said that they engaged in sex with their partners only because the other partner wanted to have sex (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). So this situation is not so uncommon. Apparently many young ladies are dealing with exactly what you are dealing with. However, it is absolutely necessary that parents are involved in the discussion of sex in an adolescent’s life. On the same note, it is also important that parents be open and understanding when addressing concerns of teen sex. The best course of action to take would be to sit down with your parents and have a frank, open conversation about contraception, relationships, and most importantly the young man in your life.
Tom and Susan
One particularly study maintains that at the age of sixty 94% of men and 84% of women remain sexually active (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). Moreover, of those that remain sexually active past sixty 74% of men and 70% of women claim that sexual satisfaction in their later years surpasses their sexual satisfaction in their earlier years. These two statistics serve to illustrate the dual points that sex is not uncommon in those past 60 and that sex is more likely than not to be a satisfying experience for those over 60. As we all know physical changes take place when transitioning from the middle years of our life’s into our later years. For instance, men might find in their later years that it is more difficult to obtain an erection and even more difficult to maintain an erection. Women may discover a drop in vaginal lubrication and elevated vaginal irritation during intercourse. However, like my mother used to say: when life gives you lemons make lemonade.
Both the changes in male and female sexuality can become advantages in later years rather than vices. What are the two biggest sexual complaints of young, married couples? What were yours? I have heard many times from men that they lament reaching orgasm so quickly and can’t fully enjoy sexual experiences with their partners as a result. Young women have expressed grief that they cannot reach orgasm quick enough during sexual intercourse. Now that you are both more advanced in years you have the opportunity to enjoy sexual intercourse in a much more fulfilling way. Since more stimulation is required for you, Tom, to obtain and maintain an erection you should have plenty of time to enjoy sexual intercourse before reaching orgasm. Likewise, Susan, the decrease in vaginal lubrication will act to make the vaginal walls much more sensitive, which should allow you to reach orgasm much more readily than in your younger years. These changes are a gift, not a curse.
Researchers have consistently found that three-quarters of those paralyzed as a result of spinal cord injuries are able to achieve an erection, but only 10% are able to achieve natural ejaculation (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). This can be explained, in part, because even though feeling has been lost below the waist reflexive erections, those who obtain through direct tactile stimulation of the penis, can be obtained and maintain throughout sexual intercourse. This is possible because the sacral erection center is located in the bottom portion of the spinal cord and is therefore still connected to the male reproductive system. However, if for some reason penile erection cannot be obtained other sexual areas of the body can be utilized for sexual stimulation. Areas such as the ears, neck, and even nipples can produce erotic sensations. Sexuality for those who have incurred spinal cord injuries is quite possible and even desirable when engaging in an intimate relationship with someone.
In conclusion, the subject of sex encompasses far more areas than just reproduction. Intimacy, sexual gratification, and sexual difficulties all play a prominent role in the discussion of sex as it pertains to adolescence, disabilities, and sex in the later years. As George Burns (n.d.) once said, “Sex can be fun after eighty, after ninety, and after lunch!” (p. 2).
Barrymore, J. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2008, from Quoteland Website: http://www.quoteland.com/author.asp?AUTHOR_ID=1056
Burns, G. (n.d.). Retrieved December 13, 2008, from Quoteland Website: http://www.quoteland.com/author.asp?AUTHOR_ID=391
Rathus, S.A., Nevid, J.S., and Fichner-Rathus, L. (2005). Human sexuality in a world of diversity. (6th ed.) Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.