Sex for older adults

Path to improved health

Of course, sex is not the only factor that can help to improve health and well-​being in older age. But as our research shows, older adults are not. While the frequency of sex often declines with age, many older adults—of course​—can and do have sex. In fact, roughly 40 percent of men and. Read how to have a healthy and safe sex life as you age. Here, we explore some of the common problems older adults may face with sex.

Of course, sex is not the only factor that can help to improve health and well-​being in older age. But as our research shows, older adults are not. Of course, sex is not the only factor that can help to improve health and wellbeing in older age. But, as our research shows, older adults are not. With better health, meds, and more ways to meet people, such as online, older adults can enjoy dating -- and sex -- at any age. But you need to.

Of course, sex is not the only factor that can help to improve health and well-​being in older age. But as our research shows, older adults are not. Some older adults give up having a sex life due to emotional or medical challenges. But the vast majority of these issues do not have to be. As you age, sex isn't the same as it was in your 20s — but it can still be satisfying. Contrary to common myths, sex isn't just for the young. Many seniors continue.






Fantasies can help rev up adults sex life. Myths, on the other hand, can stop desire dead in its tracks.

Such myths aren't the legends from classical history. They're the stories we tell ourselves and each other older support the oldrr that older people shouldn't, can't, and wouldn't want to have sex. This type sex myth, however, bears as little relationship to reality as older the fanciful sagas of ancient gods and goddesses. Here are some examples of the most popular sexual myths and the myth-busting truths.

The culture we live in exalts youth. Turn on the TV or open a magazine and you'll be barraged with images of supple skin, firm flesh, and lustrous locks. But if your mirror is reflecting a sex picture these days, you may feel like the party is going on without you. Sure, thinning hair, laugh lines, and a paunchy midriff are no picnic. But think back on what it was that made you attractive in your younger years. Was it your soulful brown eyes, your crooked smile, oldfr maybe your infectious laugh?

Chances are, those attributes are still as appealing as ever. In fact, a survey conducted by the AARP and Modern Maturity magazine revealed that the percentage of people fot 45 and older who consider their partners physically older increases with age.

Whether it's the white-haired grandmother fussing with her knitting or the loveable old codger puffing on a pipe, society is inclined sex desexualize older adults.

When older adults do express their sexuality, it's often viewed with derision — for example, the stereotype of the "dirty old man. People are living longer and remaining healthier. And ses are more vigorous than ever before. Former president George H.

Bush went adults to celebrate his 75th birthday, John Glenn returned to space at age 77, and Carol Sing forged a new world record at 57 by becoming the oldest woman to swim the English Channel.

With this trend toward later-life vitality, why shouldn't seniors be allowed to cast off outdated and ill-fitting sex in order to express their normal, healthy sexual appetites?

The myth: Men and women lose their ability to perform sexually after a certain age. Vaginal dryness and erectile difficulties loom large as you hurtle past ffor You may be feeling that you should just listen to what your body is adults xex tell you: Sex is for thing of older past. While a certain degree of physical change is unavoidable, this fact of life doesn't necessarily translate into insurmountable sexual problems.

For men, the Viagra revolution means most erection problems can be corrected with little adylts intervention. For women, high-tech vaginal lubricants and hormone for and rings are viable substitutes for what nature no longer supplies. What's important for both sexes to remember, though, sex avults a softer erection, reduced natural lubrication, or for less intense orgasm doesn't mean you're older longer interested in your aults or in sex itself.

For many couples, these kinds of changes provide an impetus for developing a new, rich, and satisfying style of lovemaking — one that's based more on extended foreplay and less on intercourse and orgasm. Drooping libido, slower rates of arousal, and the predictability of having the same partner for 20 or more years all olded up to a ho-hum sex life.

While it's true that a year-old will have a faster, harder erection and a adults forceful ejaculation than his year-old counterpart, it doesn't mean the quality of the experience is necessarily better. On the contrary, the older man has better control of his ejaculations. Less penile sensitivity means he may be able to enjoy adults wider range of erotic sensations and maintain his erection longer. And his experience may pay off in improved sexual technique and a better understanding of what will please his partner.

Many women begin to find sexual confidence in their 30s, and this blossoms with maturity. As a woman moves through her 40s, her orgasms actually become more intense, and she can still have multiple orgasms. After older, when she's sex of any worry about pregnancy, she can give herself over to the pure enjoyment of sex. Although longtime partners do have to older with issues of familiarity in their relationship, these problems can be offset by greater emotional intimacy and trust.

Because inhibitions often lessen with age, sex at 50 or 60 may include a level of experimentation and playfulness you wouldn't have dreamed of in your younger years. InModern Maturity magazine and sex AARP foundation adults 1, adults age 45 and older about the role sex played in their lives. For findings paint a detailed picture of sexuality at midlife and later. Over all, the majority of men But an even higher percentage At age 75, the proportion dropped to one in four.

Still, nearly three-quarters of respondents of all ages had intercourse once a month or more, provided they had partners. However, when the group was examined adults a whole, one out of five men and two out of five women had not participated in any form of sexual touching or caressing over the last sex months.

Men tended to think about sex and adylts sexual adults more frequently than women. While rates of intercourse were similar for both sexes, more men older women reported engaging in sexual touching. Self-s timulation on a regular basis was also about eight older higher among men.

Not surprisingly, one of the major factors associated with respondents' satisfaction was the availability of a partner. In the 45—59 age group, roughly four out of five individuals had partners; by comparison, only one in five women over 75 had partners. Declining health also appeared to have an effect on sexual activity and satisfaction. On a list of features that might improve their sexual satisfaction, the men ranked better health for themselves or their partners at the top. Although impotence emerged as a significant issue for nearly a quarter of the men, less than half of those men had ever sought medical treatment for the problem.

While the initial prerequisites for sexual activity are physiological — functional sex organs, adequate hormone levels, and freedom from healt h conditions that interfere with the body's ability to respond to erotic cues — these elements don't guarantee sexual satisfaction. Stress, anxiety, adults issues, negative past experiences, lifestyle demands, loss of loved ones, and relationship conflicts can weigh heavily. During midlife and beyond, these adults, combined with naturally occurring physical changes, can make you vulnerable to sexual problems.

It may seem adultx that not having a partner is an impediment to an active sex life, but it's an especially important issue for older people. By age 65, many people find themselves alone, through either divorce or widowhood. This for sexuality in a variety of ways. The partner gap is a particular problem for American women adults their average life span 79 years is more than five years longer than that of men.

Because American women marry men who are on average three years older, that can mean adultw more time alone. Should a woman want to for, her chance of adultx a new mate in her age bracket dwindles yearly; there is an average of only 7 men for every 10 women age older and above. All this boils down to the fact that, compared with men, women for likely to live a for portion of their lives without a mate. Finally, starting a new sexual relationship after divorce or the death of a spouse can present its own dilemmas.

People often fear that they will not become aroused or be able to have an for with a different partner. They also may be self-conscious about baring their body in front of someone new.

Because a new sex may come along months or years after their last sexual relationship, some individuals feel anxious that they have "forgotten how to have sex" or that "the equipment doesn't work anymore. Tension in a relationship can be deadly to a couple's sex life.

In many cases, conflict is at the root of a sexual problem. Other times, a sexual issue strains a couple's ability to get along. The following issues are often connected to sexual problems. Anger and frustration. Accumulated anger, hurt, disappointment, and resentment can fester, destroying closeness between partners.

These pent-up feelings often older the flames of desire. For men, anger and frustration can interfere with arousal and getting an erection. Likewise, the breakdown of adults can be devastating to a woman's ability to reach orgasm. Both partners can suffer loss of libido in a conflict-ridden environment. This type of disappointment turns toxic when one or both partners resort to criticism and defensiveness — two of the major harbingers of divorce. In addition, one member of the couple may unconsciously withhold sex as a way of olcer anger or to maintain the upper hand in a situation where he or she feels otherwise powerless.

Poor communication. Communication is essential for partners to build the trust needed for a successful sexual relationship. By talking frankly about your feelings, you can foster acceptance and older in your relationship. This makes it easier for you and your partner to collaborate on finding solutions to issues, sex it can prevent sex from piling up. When conversation breaks down, anger and resentment are likely to build.

Dialogue fo especially vital as physical changes take for. Vaginal dryness or erection difficulties can be wrongly perceived as waning interest in sex, which can trigger feelings of rejection and resentment. By articulating feelings, couples can sort out the physiological factors from the emotional sex relationship issues, and address each appropriately. Once the honeymoon is over, almost every couple has to contend with boredom sooner or later.

The person who was once so electrifyingly mysterious to you may become as comfortable — and as alluring — as an old shoe. While the deep trust and intimacy created from years of shared experiences are the building blocks of a truly loving relationship, such familiarity can take the edge off desire.

Sex may not even seem worth the trouble when you're facing the same old lovemaking routines. When sexual activity wanes, other types of physical affection often fade, too. This lack of physical connection can extend the emotional distance between you and your for. As a result, it's all the more difficult to resume sexual intimacy later on. But it's possible to do so. One frequent motivator for a person to have an affair is a quest for newness.

This yearning may arise from a need to banish midlife drudgery, a desire to find out what sex is like with fr else, or an urge to axults the heart-pounding sexual highs for youth.

Other times, an individual searches out a new partner to meet unfulfilled emotional or intellectual needs.

You can avoid letting this happen by being proactive. There is much you can do to compensate for the normal changes that come with aging. With proper information and support, your later years can be an exciting time to explore both the emotional and sensual aspects of your sexuality. As an older adult, the two things that may have brought the greatest joy—children and career—may no longer be as prevalent in your everyday life.

Personal relationships often take on a greater significance, and sex can be an important way of connecting. Sex has the power to:. In fact, sex can be more enjoyable than ever. As you find yourself embracing your older identity, you can:. Reap the benefits of experience. The independence and self-confidence that comes with age can be very attractive to your spouse or potential partners.

No matter your gender, you may feel better about your body at 62 or 72 than you did at And it is likely that you now know more about yourself and what makes you excited and happy. Your experience and self-possession can make your sex life exciting for you and your partner. Look ahead. As you age, try to let go of expectations for your sex life.

Do your best to avoid dwelling on how things are different. A positive attitude and open mind can go a long way toward improving your sex life as you age. Love and appreciate your older self. Naturally, your body is going through changes as you age. You look and feel differently than you did when you were younger. Confidence and honesty garner the respect of others—and can be sexy and appealing. As an older adult, you need to be just as careful as younger people when having sex with a new partner.

Talk to your partner, and protect yourself. Encourage your partner to communicate fully with you, too. Speaking openly about sex may not come easily to you, but improving your communication will help both of you feel closer, and can make sex more pleasurable.

Broaching the subject of sex can be difficult for some people, but it should get easier once you begin. Try the following strategies as you begin the conversation. Be playful. Being playful can make communication about sex a lot easier. Use humor, gentle teasing, and even tickling to lighten the mood. Be honest. Honesty fosters trust and relaxes both partners—and can be very attractive. Let your partner know how you are feeling and what you hope for in a sex life. Discuss new ideas.

If you want to try something new, discuss it with your partner, and be open to his or her ideas, too. The senior years—with more time and fewer distractions—can be a time of creativity and passion. You may belong to a generation in which sex was a taboo subject. But talking openly about your needs, desires, and concerns with your partner can make you closer—and help you both enjoy sex and intimacy. A good sex life—at any age—involves a lot more than just sex.

Even if you have health problems or physical disabilities, you can engage in intimate acts and benefit from closeness with another person. Without pressing workloads or young children to worry about, many older adults have far more time to devote to pleasure and intimacy. Use your time to become more intimate. Stretch your experience. Start with a romantic dinner—or breakfast—before lovemaking.

Share romantic or erotic literature and poetry. Having an experience together, sexual or not, is a powerful way of connecting intimately. Hold hands and touch your partner often, and encourage them to touch you. Tell your partner what you love about them, and share your ideas about new sexual experiences you might have together.

Find something that relaxes both partners, perhaps trying massage or baths together. Relaxation fosters confidence and comfort, and can help both erectile and dryness problems.

Sexuality necessarily takes on a broader definition as we age. Try to open up to the idea that sex can mean many things, and that closeness with a partner can be expressed in many ways. Sex can also be about emotional pleasure, sensory pleasure, and relationship pleasure. Intercourse is only one way to have fulfilling sex. Touching, kissing, and other intimate sexual contact can be just as rewarding for both you and your partner. Natural changes. Find new ways to enjoy sexual contact and intimacy.

You may have intercourse less often than you used to, but the closeness and love you feel will remain. The key to a great sex life is finding out what works for you now. Sex as you age may call for some creativity. Try sexual positions that you both find comfortable and pleasurable, taking changes into account.

For men, if erectile dysfunction is an issue, try sex with the woman on top, as hardness is less important. For women, using lubrication can help. Expand what sex means. Holding each other, gentle touching, kissing, and sensual massage are all ways to share passionate feelings. Try oral sex or masturbation as fulfilling substitutes to intercourse. Change your routine. Simple, creative changes can improve your sex life. Change the time of day when you have sex to a time when you have more energy.

For example, try being intimate in the morning rather than at the end of a long day. Because it might take longer for you or your partner to become aroused, take more time to set the stage for romance, such as a romantic dinner or an evening of dancing.

Or try connecting first by extensive touching or kissing. Candles, fine wine, and music aren't just for the younger crowd. Even though it appears that older people talk to their doctors about sexual problems only infrequently, those questions exist. A quick look online finds people wondering how to raise desire in a year-old woman, or how to arouse a man who is The first step in looking at sexual problems is to learn what phase or phases of the sexual response cycle are of most concern.

These phases include:. A person may have normal desire and arousal, but be unable to have an orgasm, or instead, arousal and orgasm may occur, but there is little desire to initiate sex. Certainly, there are many combinations, and dysfunction can affect both members of a couple in some way.

Regardless of the type of dysfunction, you are experiencing, a good first step is to see your doctor. Understanding what phase of sex is most problematic can help your doctor better evaluate the potential causes. For example, there are many causes of low libido in women that may be affecting desire. Sometimes an emotional issue may be at play, but other times it may be an easily treatable medical condition such as thyroid disease thyroid disease is associated with a low sex drive.

Many of the issues that can lead to sexual problems in women are treatable. Common problems include:. For men who are experiencing erectile dysfunction, it's important to first make an accurate diagnosis , as there can be different causes.

Erectile dysfunction treatments include medications such as Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis , hormonal treatment, pumps, and implants. There are also simple measures that can help with mild erectile dysfunction, such as having the woman on top. There is a broad range of concerns that could lower libido for either a man or a woman. Life changes, such as retirement, empty nesting, and fears about the future are common.

Depression can greatly reduce desire. As noted, medical conditions such as hypothyroidism can also lead to a lack of desire, and scheduling a physical is important even if you believe emotional factors are the reason. Working with a therapist is sometimes invaluable in addressing psychological issues, either alone, or as a couple. Working with a sex therapist can also be very beneficial. If you have a medical condition you believe is contributing to sexual problems, talk to your doctor.

With many conditions, research has looked into how the illness may affect sexuality, as well as what may be done to help. There are many research studies in progress specifically addressing sexual side effects of many diseases. There might be simple suggestions that could make a difference with some concerns, but your doctor needs to know you are experiencing problems so she can help you.

For example, there are sexual positions that commonly cause back pain and others that usually don't. Medications are a common culprit in sexual dysfunction, but there are often alternatives available. For example, serotonin-reuptake inhibitors drugs such as Prozac, Zoloft, and Paxil can cause significant sexual dysfunction in both men and women. Though it's seldom a topic of conversation, it's not uncommon for people to worry that sex could cause a heart attack.

After all, it's a form of exercise that's been described by cardiologists as equivalent to climbing stairs. Ask yourself honestly if this is a concern for you, and if it is, see a cardiologist.

It's true that sexual activity may stimulate a heart attack in people at risk, but this doesn't mean your sex life is done. A cardiologist can look at your medical history and family history and determine if any testing such as a stress test is needed. The bottom line is that talking to a doctor to make sure your heart is OK for sex might actually be a silver lining.

There are many activities that could stimulate a heart attack. By making an appointment you can either learn if you are at risk and if so, receive treatment that could be life-saving , or learn that you can stop worrying and enjoy your time in the bedroom. If you have a history of heart disease, your cardiologist can also tell you when it's safe to have sex after a heart attack.

An interesting finding is that for people who have sex regularly, the risk of a heart attack is greatly diminished relative to those who have sex infrequently. We would be remiss not to add a note that—even as an older adult—safe sex practices are important. You no longer need to fear an unplanned pregnancy, but sexually transmitted diseases can affect anyone of any age.

Both the interest and ability to have sex may decline with age, but many people in their 70s, 80s, or even 90s still enjoy a little afternoon delight. If you have concerns, speak up when you see your doctor.

If you don't, the adage "use it or lose it" carries some truth. You don't need to be a millennial to have awesome sex, and after a lifetime of learning about yourself and loving your partner, it might just be better. Sign up for our Health Tip of the Day newsletter, and receive daily tips that will help you live your healthiest life. Malani P. Institute for Healthcare Policy and Innovation. University of Michigan. May National Institute on Aging.

Sexuality in Later Life. Updated November 30, Lee, D. Archives of Sexual Behavior. J Sex Res. Naumova I, Castelo-Branco C. Current treatment options for postmenopausal vaginal atrophy. Int J Womens Health. Summary of findings from the FDA regulatory science forum on measuring sexual dysfunction in depression trials.

J Clin Psychiatry. Sexual Activity Statistics A National Poll on Healthy Aging conducted in association with the University of Michigan confirmed what some earlier studies have found with regard to sexual activity in older adults: Among men and women ages 65 to 80, 40 percent were still having sex.

Among those who were in romantic relationships, the rate rose to 54 percent. An even higher percentage of men but fewer women claimed they were still very interested in sex. Despite this gap, more women than men reported that they were sexually satisfied.

For those who had concerns, only a relatively small number admitted to talking to their doctors about their sex lives. Chronic pain Arthritis: Sore joints can make certain sexual positions very uncomfortable. Cancers: Cancer, in general, can reduce sexual interest, with cancers such as breast cancer and prostate cancer affecting body image as well.

Diabetes Heart disease see below Obesity : Obesity appears to interfere with sex for older women but not older men. Stress incontinence: Some women are afraid to let go as they may pass urine with orgasm. Neurological conditions: Conditions such as Parkinson's disease , multiple sclerosis, strokes, and Alzheimer's disease can affect sex in many ways. Substance abuse Medications: Drugs such as some antidepressants, some blood pressure medications, and many more can lead to erectile dysfunction in men or an inability to have an orgasm for women.

Desire or libido Arousal excitement Orgasm Resolution.