The Truth About Sex After 50
How many of these misconceptions do you still hold?
Myths about sex after 50
Judging from the images the popular media puts forth, you’d think sex was only for twentysomethings. Nothing is further from the truth. Sex at mid life and beyond is a subject mired in confusion and misinformation. Here are some common myths, and the straight story about sex after 50.
Myth: Beyond a certain age, people have little interest in sex
Fact: There is no age limit on sexuality, but for people aged 50 and over, sexual satisfaction depends more on the overall quality of the relationship than it does for younger couples. According to a University of Michigan National Poll on Healthy Aging, surveying adults 65-80, nearly three in four older adults (73%) indicated they were satisfied with their sex life.
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Myth: As a man ages, he loses his ability to get an erection
Fact: Aging itself is not a cause of erectile dysfunction. However, diminishing hormone levels do precipitate some changes. A man may need more physical stimulation to become aroused, and his erection may not be quite as firm as when he was younger—but sex is no less pleasurable.
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Myth: Emotional and psychological factors are responsible for a woman’s lack of interest in sex at midlife and beyond
Fact: Physical factors can play an even larger role. According to the North American Menopause Society, hormonal changes at menopause can affect a woman’s sexual response. Low estrogen levels can result in vaginal dryness, causing discomfort during sex. And in some women, lower testosterone levels can mean a lack of energy and a weaker sex drive. Other women find their interest in sex increases after menopause, due, in part, to a shift in the ratio of testosterone to estrogen and progesterone.
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Myth: Masturbation diminishes your ability to enjoy sex with a partner
Fact: Masturbation can increase sexual pleasure, both with and without a partner. For women, it helps keep vaginal tissues moist and elastic and boosts hormone levels, which fuels sex drive, says the National Women’s Health Network. For men, it helps maintain erectile response.
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Myth: A man’s inability to get an erection is most likely the result of an emotional problem
Fact: Actually, physical causes—such as circulation problems, prostate disorders, and side-effects associated with prescription medications—account for 85 per cent of erectile difficulties.
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Myth: Couples at midlife and beyond who don’t have regular sex have lost interest in sex or in each other
Fact: When older couples don’t have regular sex, it’s often because one partner has an illness or disability.
Of course, it’s true that sex isn’t going to stay exactly the same as you age. But the changes that take place aren’t all negative. Once a woman is past menopause and no longer concerned about pregnancy, many couples find it easier to relax and look forward to lovemaking. And partners who are retired or working only part-time often have more time and energy for each other, for making love as well as pursuing other shared activities.
By midlife, you know your own body and your partner’s intimately, and, hopefully, you’ve figured out how to communicate what you find pleasurable. It’s likely that you’ve shed any sexual inhibitions, and your sexual confidence and experience probably result in better sex for both of you. Just as important, sex may be more emotionally fulfilling because now it is driven less by hormones and more by the desire to share yourself with someone who loves you. Sex after age 65 may take place less often, but many find it becomes more gratifying than ever.
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