Because sexuality tends to be a
private matter, it's likely that you've heard less about sexual change than any
other element of aging. Fortunately, the news is good-for most healthy adults,
pleasure and interest don't diminish with age. Most people are sexual
throughout their lives, with or without a partner, and some feel greater sexual
freedom in their later years. On the other hand, some men and women are content
to be sexually inactive.
Around age 50, men and women typically
begin to notice changes in their sexual drive, sexual response, or both. Like
so many other physical changes that evolve over time, these aren't signs that
you are losing your sexuality. Rather, these changes are simply something to
adjust to and discuss openly with your partner and/or your doctor.
Normal sexual changes in men
As you age beyond
your 50s, you may find that:
- Male sex drive is minimally affected by age
(although health problems, certain medicines, or relationship stress can lower
- Erections become less firm and tend to take more time
than when you were younger.
- You may be able to delay ejaculation
for longer than when you were younger.
Normal sexual changes in women
- It can take longer to become sexually
- You are less
interested in sex.
- Your skin may be more sensitive and easily irritated when
- Intercourse may be painful because of thinning vaginal
walls (regular sex often helps prevent this from becoming severe). If a
water-based lubricant (such as Astroglide) isn't enough, talk to your doctor
about vaginal estrogen cream, which reverses thinning and sensitivity. For more
information, see the topics
Menopause and Perimenopause and Sexual Problems in Women.
Adjusting to age-related sexual changes
little experimentation and patience, you can adjust to sexual changes and
satisfy your sexual and intimacy
needs. If you think your sexual interest might
be affected by a medicine or health problem, work with your doctor to correct
or treat it. Talk with your partner about any misgivings you might have so you
can handle them together.
With your partner, take your time to
set a relaxed mood and engage in foreplay. Use a lubricant if vaginal dryness
or irritation is a barrier to enjoying sex. If you drink alcohol, remember that
a small amount may relax you and increase your responsiveness, but too much
alcohol is not likely to be helpful.