Sex and Older Men: What’s Normal?
As men grow older, many fear that they will eventually reach a point where sex is neither possible nor enjoyable. However, evidence abounds that that point need not come until they have been laid to their eternal rest six feet beneath the ground.
What they can expect, however, are certain changes in their sex lives. Such changes are perhaps best described by Psychology Today writer Michael Castleman who says that sex for seniors “becomes less like the Fourth of July, and more like Thanksgiving. However, even without exploding fireworks, the erotic flames can still burn hot and bright—if older men adjust to the changes that aging brings, and if women involved with older men understand what’s happening to their lovers.”
As you might expect, the outlook for good sex into old age comes with one overriding caveat: To continue to get the maximum enjoyment from sex, men — and women as well — must adopt healthy lifestyle behaviors that prevent or at least postpone health conditions that interfere with optimal sexual function.
Such behaviors include eating a healthy balanced diet, maintaining a regular exercise routine, quitting (or never starting) smoking, avoiding excess consumption of alcohol or salt, and avoiding excess stress.
For men, maintaining strong blood flow is critical to the preservation of erectile function. Following the lifestyle recommendations listed above can help to prevent the development of atherosclerosis, high blood pressure, and type 2 diabetes, all of which are notorious for their adverse effects on blood flow and erectile function.
Erection Changes Likely
As for the aging-related changes men can expect in their sex lives, perhaps none is more obvious than the change in erections. Providing they stay healthy, men should be able to achieve and maintain erections long lasting enough for intercourse. However, they should not expect those erections to be as robust as they were during their years as teenagers and young adults.
Nor will these erections develop as readily as they did when the men were younger. It typically will take a bit more effort to achieve erection, and the result is likely to be an erection that, while suitable for intercourse, is not as firm and rigid as the erections of their youth. Castleman points out that raising an erection is likely to take more time and require more physical stimulation than was the case in your youth when a fleeting sexual fantasy was sufficient to get a raging hard-on.
Erections Sometimes Wilt
Erections for older men also have a tendency to wilt when minor distractions occur, such as a phone or doorbell ringing. All too often, men who experience this temporary loss of erection due to distractions interpret this physical failure as a sign of erectile dysfunction when it is just an age-related change in erectile function.
For most healthy older men, sexual desire is alive and well, but it may make less frequent appearances as they age. And sexual desire is likely to drop off even more noticeably in their female partners, which can at times be frustrating. However, patience and perseverance are the watchwords here. Eventually, you and your partner will find the right moment for intimacy.
If you find that your libido has all but vanished, it’s possible that hormonal imbalances are responsible. If you suspect that this may be the case, discuss the matter with your doctor, who can then authorize diagnostics to confirm an abnormally low level of testosterone, which can be treated with hormone replacement therapy.
Along with the aging-related changes in erections, men are likely to experience changes in the duration and intensity of orgasm as well as the force and amount of semen produced during ejaculation. Such changes are to be expected and are not an indication of any sexual dysfunction in and of themselves.
Older men should also prepare themselves to wait a good deal longer to achieve another erection after ejaculation. Your partner can help by providing physical stimulation to somewhat speed the process.
Effects of Prescription Drugs
As men — and women — age, they develop a wide range of health conditions that are treated with prescription medications. Some of these medications can interfere with normal sexual function. For example, prescription drugs that can make erection more difficult include certain antidepressants, antihistamines, antihypertensives, and acid-blocking drugs. If you have reason to believe that one or more of these drugs are causing problems for you, talk to your doctor to see if there are more erection-friendly drug alternatives that would work just as well.
Helping to shine a light on what is — and isn’t — normal in the sex lives of seniors, AARP conducted a survey of more than 8,000 men and women over the age of 50. The survey, created by AARP relationship expert Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., sociologist James Witte, Ph.D., and writer Chrisanna Northrup, produced these findings:
Frequency of Intercourse: The AARP survey found that 31 percent of couples report having sex several times a week, while 28 percent of couples said they had sex a couple of times a month, and 8 percent report having sex only once a month. Thirty-three percent of the survey’s respondents report that they rarely or never have sex.
Oral Sex: Seventy-seven percent of women and 60 percent of men report that they perform oral sex on their partners, according to the AARP survey.
Expectations from Partner: Asked by AARP surveyers to identify what they most want from their partners that they are not getting, more than a quarter of the men said they wanted more sex than their partners are providing. Nineteen percent of women and 14 percent of men say they would like more affection from their partners. Forty percent of men and 44 percent of women said their partners are fulfilling all their needs.
Sex as an Obligation: Asked if they felt that their partners had sex primarily because they saw it as an obligation, roughly half of those who had been in long-term relationships said yes.
Sex Toys: Sixty percent of women and 40 percent of men report that they have used sex toys, such as vibrators, with their partners to enhance their sexual interaction.
Telling Partner “I Love You”: As evidence that love is still alive and well, more than 90 percent of male respondents report they say those three little words to their partners on a regular basis. This compared with 58 percent of women who said they did the same.
For those men who feel they need a little bit of a boost in the erection department, Viagra and the other impotence medications may fill the bill. If you’re looking for a reliable online supplier of impotence drugs, check out eDrugstore.com and its ED medication guide.
Don Amerman is a freelance author who writes extensively about a wide array of nutrition and health-related topics.