How sex and sexual desire change as we age

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Sex isn’t just about promoting intimacy and closeness, it can also be a powerful tool for protecting and improving health, and it’s a lot of fun. Studies now confirm that you can enjoy sex for as long as you wish, no matter your age or gender. Naturally, sex at 50 or 60 may not be like it is at 20 or 30, but it’s certainly not only for the young.

In fact, you may find sex more enjoyable in your later years. With experience comes knowledge, and it’s likely you now know more about yourself and what works for you. In fact, the self-confidence and independence that comes with age can be very attractive to your spouse or potential partners.

And with children grown and work less demanding, couples are better able to relax and enjoy one another without so many distractions.

What is sex drive?
We still haven’t pinpointed exactly what sex drive or libido is, or how to measure it accurately, but low libido describes a decreased interest in sexual activity. While it has been found that hormones do play a role, other factors physical, social and psychological all work together to make up your sex drive.

It’s common to lose interest in sex from time to time, and libido levels vary through life. It’s also normal for your interest not to match your partner’s at times but here’s how your age can affect your sex life and libido.

In your 20s

Testosterone is needed in the body for men to become sexually aroused and the twentysomething male still has plenty of it to go around. With only slightly less testosterone than his teenage self, a male’s sex drive in his 20s is still typically very high. But it is also a time when anxieties about sex (probably due to inexperience) come to the surface. Anxiety may be part of the reason why around 8 per cent of men in their 20s report erectile dysfunction (ED).

ED can be bought on by medical matters or mental health issues. It can also be a sign that you’re at risk for heart disease, so talk to your doctor about persisting symptoms.

Women are likely to be more fertile from teens to late 20s than in the years that follow. Researchers speculate that this may make you think harder about when you have sex, and who with. They also think that female desire increases just as fertility starts to decrease towards the end of your 20s.

Women having kids
Pregnancy and childbirth affect sex life at any age and it’s different for everyone. Changes in hormones may mean a higher libido at times, especially during the second trimester, and a drop off at others. Changes in your own body and a huge lifestyle adjustment when you give birth can also affect the time and energy you have for sex.

30s and early 40s

These years bring a small fall in male hormone levels, but many men continue to have a strong sex drive. According to the Mayo Clinic, testosterone levels start to slowly decrease around age 35 by about 1 per cent per year. This small fall can have an effect on your sex drive but family and work stress, long hours, and other commitments can also affect your desire for sex.

A small part of the pharmaceutical industry has been pushing the idea of the ‘male menopause’ to encourage the use of either testosterone supplements or other medications like Viagra. But there is no male equivalent of the sudden collapse in sex hormones when a woman hits the menopause, and most men in this age group are still experiencing about two orgasms a week without any medical help.

This may be the time in your life when your sex drive is at its highest. One study showed women between 27 and 45 were having more frequent and more powerful sexual fantasies than in their youth. They are also more likely to have sex sooner in a new relationship.

50s and beyond

In this group, a lot depends on whether a man is still fit and healthy. There’s no reason to avoid sex if you’re in good physical and mental health. ED does become more common with older age; erections may be less firm and less frequent.

However, it may not be age itself that’s the reason. Health problems that also become more common with age, like diabetes, heart disease, high cholesterol, and the medications that you take to treat them, can also play a factor. Talk to your doctor about options for treating ED, if necessary.

Women may find they have a higher sexual desire from this age. With children flying the nest and there being less worry around pregnancy, you may have an increased interest in sex.

However, oestrogen levels drop the closer you get to menopause, which might put a damper on your libido. Hot flashes, vaginal dryness, weight gain, and sleep problems can all be symptoms of menopause and affect your interest and desire for sex. Medications, hormones and lubrication can help; talk to your doctor for your options.

Sex after a heart attack
If you have had a heart attack in the past, or if you have heart disease, you may find yourself less sexually active than before. Sex triggering another heart attack is a common fear, but it is still possible to enjoy an active sex life.

  • Check with your doctor before resuming sexual activity.
  • Participate in a cardiac rehabilitation program to improve your fitness.
  • Wait to have sex if you have advanced heart failure, severe valve disease, uncontrolled arrhythmia, unstable angina, unstable or severe heart disease.
  • Once your condition is under control, ask your doctor when it’s safe to resume sexual activity.

Overall, the most important tool when it comes to sex is communication. Talk to your partner about needs and desires (yours and theirs); this can help you keep a healthy sex life as you both age. Be honest about physical and emotional satisfaction and come up with alternatives if something is not working for you. Don’t be afraid to put sex into the diary, setting aside time to be intimate can do wonders for a relationship.

Have you been able to determine what factors affect your libido?

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Disclaimer: This article contains general information about health issues and is not advice. For health advice, consult your medical practitioner.

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Written by Ellie Baxter


Total Comments: 6
  1. 0

    Having a sexually desirable partner is a great libido booster IMO. I think a lot of the falling off in sexual relationships as we age is due to one or both partners becoming less sexually attractive. Weight gain and loss of physical fitness are the two main culprits.

  2. 0

    “You can have a rewarding sex life, no matter your age ”
    Yes, also providing you don’t take any statin drugs as they interfere with the synthesis of testosterone. This is a common adverse drug reaction which is very well played down by the pharmaceutical companies that make statins.

    • 0

      Thank you for the info Jennie. This didn’t come up in any of my research so I will have to take another look.

    • 0

      Credible references please Jennie, instead of bald statements.

    • 0

      There are so many references.
      Here are a few:
      Statins toxic side effects: evidence from 500 scientific papers. David Evans.
      The great cholesterol myth. Jonny Bowden
      The cholesterol myths: Exposing the fallacy that saturated fat and cholesterol cause heart disease. Uffe Ravnskov.
      The dark side of statins. Duane Graveline.

      Do you need more than this?

  3. 0

    The main thing in sex is to find your girl. If both the passion goes off scale – it’s a thrill!



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