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By Sangeeth Sebastian
This biological drive is the same whether your brain is American or Indian. But here comes the tricky part. Whether you express that drive or not is determined by the culture in which you live. For instance, if you live in a culture, which regards sex in old age negatively, your brain too will feel the same way. In other words, people who “feel older” and have more negative attitude towards sex and aging are likely to perceive the sharpest decline in the quality of their sex lives compared to those who “feel younger” irrespective of their age, according to a new study published in the Journal of Sex Research. In a nutshell, what this means is your brain is the biggest sex organ.
To know more about old age and sexuality and how the difference in culture can influence sexual behaviour, I talked to Dr TSS Rao, a renowned sexologist, psychiatrist and founding editor of the Journal of Psychosexual Health. Dr Rao is also the co-founder of VVOX.
Dr TSS Rao: There is a misconception that elderly are asexual individuals. Our society devalues and ridicules old age sexuality with distasteful humour and jokes.
Sexual myths like—sexual anatomy deteriorates with ones age, arousal depends only on physical attractiveness, men and women with heart or other ailments should avoid sexual activity, female desire declines dramatically after menopause etc—work against older people, who internalises these messages through the media and perceive themselves as nonsexual individuals.
In many, this can lead to confusion and frustration as age advances. The truth is desire has no expiry date. There is no clear end point to most men’s fertility, nor do they experience an abrupt fall in male hormone levels. Studies have shown that for both, older men and women, sexual attractiveness and performance are crucial in engendering feelings of happiness and well-being.
But whether they act on their desires or not is determined by the culture in which they live and how they are made to feel about those desires.
As writer Mark Twain famously said: Age is an issue of mind over matter. If you don’t mind, it doesn’t matter.