- Older women report having sex well into their senior years.
- Sexual dysfunction becomes more common as women reach menopause.
- Though sexual desire may decrease with age, research shows that it doesn’t disappear.
- Older women can maintain a satisfying sex life but may need additional support to work through sexual dysfunction.
- Find the support you need for a healthy sex life with eDrugstore.
Popular culture promotes the idea that senior women lose interest in sex. Anecdotal and scientific evidence tells us otherwise. Senior women may face challenges with libido and sexual function, but the good news for both of you is that they can still enjoy a thriving sex life.
Older Women and Sexuality: An Overview
Many women remain sexually active throughout their senior years. In fact, research shows that many older adults still engage in intercourse, oral sex, and masturbation throughout their eighth and ninth decades of life.
So, why do so many people assume that women stop having and enjoying sex as they age? This may have more to do with the fact that sexual problems and barriers to sex become more common with age.
Like men, older women may experience sexual challenges. For women, these can include:
- Decreased desire or libido
- Decreased lubrication
- Difficulty reaching climax
- Pain during sex
- Sexual dysfunction
Other challenges to older women’s sexuality may include:
- Changes to a partner’s health status or sexual function
- Chronic or new health conditions
- Medication side effects
- Mobility challenges
- Relationship changes, such as the loss of a partner
Despite these challenges, women can still experience a rich and satisfying sex life.
Libido and Senior Sexuality
Sexual desire and sexual function are complex processes. Many people experience a number of fluctuations or transitions within their sex lives throughout their adult lifespan. Stating that sexual desire simply disappears with age misrepresents what’s really happening with most older woman.
Does Libido Naturally Drop as Women Age?
There’s no such thing as a “normal” sex drive or libido. However, research shows that sexual desire does seem to decline in both men and women as they age. Women over 50 are more likely to report a reduced sex drive than men of the same age.
The decline may be linked to menopause. Women experience a sharp decline in estrogen during menopause. This contributes to vaginal dryness, which can make sex painful and make it harder to orgasm.
How Can Women Stay Interested in Sex as They Age?
Despite reported declines in libido and sexual function with age, love and intimacy stay the same in most older adults. Many older women are still having sex, but it may look different than it did in earlier years.
Maintaining an interest in sex might take extra effort, including:
- Embracing change. Alongside changes in natural lubrication, many women experience physical changes in their appearance, such as their hair, skin, or body shape. This can make it more difficult to feel comfortable with sex. Embracing changes that come with age can help couples feel both desire and desirable as they age.
- Improving communication. It’s critical for partners to set time aside to discuss how they feel about sex, what they would like out of sex, and what challenges they’re having with sex. Unfortunately, it’s common for older couples to stop having sex with one or both partners not understanding why. It many cases, the problem may have been easy to fix — if they had talked about it.
- Redefining sex. Physical changes to genital blood flow and lubrication mean that sex may take longer. It can also be more difficult for women to orgasm without direct clitoral stimulation. Some women may need more time to climax and may feel more pleasure from “outercourse” rather than vaginal intercourse.
- Setting realistic expectations. There is no such thing as “normal” when it comes to sex. Women can explore what they are most comfortable with and set more realistic expectations for their sexual experiences. For example, someone may choose to focus more on intimacy than on reaching climax during sex.
Enjoying Sex In Your Golden Years
Aging presents the opportunity for women to revisit how they define sex and what they want their sex lives to look like. Older women may face new challenges, but they can also embrace some of the changes that aging brings. For example, they are less likely to have children at home and don’t have to worry about pregnancy or their menstrual cycle getting in the way of sex.
For both of you, taking care of your physical health, exploring new ways to experience pleasure, and protecting yourself from sexually transmitted infections (STIs) — if you have multiple partners — can help you to maintain a better sex life as you age.
Does Better Health Mean Better Sex?
Health problems can make sex more challenging for older adults. However, good health can also improve your chances of having a better sex life as you age. Research shows that older adults who report better health tend to be more sexually active.
A healthy lifestyle that promotes better sex includes:
- Eating a healthy diet. A healthy diet promotes better heart health, weight management, and better blood flow, which is critical to sexual arousal and orgasm.
- Limiting alcohol intake. Heavy alcohol use can compromise your health, trigger hot flashes for her, and reduce sensation during sex.
- Maintaining a healthy weight. A healthy weight can help you to maintain your overall health.
- Managing chronic health conditions. Chronic health conditions are a common reason for reduced sexual activity in older adults. Staying on top of any chronic health conditions can help to prevent additional complications to sexual health.
- Staying physically active. Regular physical activity is good for your overall health, improves blood flow, and helps you to maintain flexibility and mobility.
How Can Older Women Make Sex More Pleasurable?
Your partner’s sexual challenges don’t have to get in the way of your sexual pleasure as a couple. Researchers have found that women are less likely than men to talk to their provider about sexual dysfunction. Her provider can help her determine the root cause of sexual dysfunction and to find the best therapies or strategies for improving her sexual experiences — and yours.
In addition to this, you can make sex more pleasurable for her by:
- Exploring sexuality resources. We now have more reliable resources to support sexuality than ever, thanks to the internet. Use carefully cultivated resources to learn more about sexuality and intimacy. The eDrugstore blog is a good place to start.
- Taking your time. Both men and women report that sex takes significantly more time after 50. Rather than letting this deter you, embrace foreplay and spend more time warming each other up.
- Trying new things. Trying new things is a great way to spice things up and to build anticipation for your next sexual experience. Explore new ways of finding pleasure, including new positions, experiences, or sexual aids.
- Using lubricant. Lubricant helps with vaginal dryness and helps to reduce pain during sex. Some lubes are even designed to increase pleasure. For some women, lubrication isn’t enough. They may want to talk to their healthcare provider about low-dose hormonal lubricants.
A Better Sex Life with eDrugstore
The evidence shows that older women are still having and enjoying sex. However, sometimes they need a little extra support from the men in their lives, and for some men, particularly as they age, ED can get in the way.
If you struggle with erectile dysfunction symptoms, eDrugstore can help. Browse our medication guide, and take advantage of our free online consultation to order medications online or by calling 1-800-467-5146. When you order from eDrugstore, virtual health visits and shipping are always free.
This article is first in a series on understanding female sexuality. To learn more how you can help her enjoy a healthy and active sex life, stay tuned!
Shelby is a public health professional with research and field experience in sexual and reproductive health. She holds a Master of Public Health (MPH) and is a Certified Health Education Specialist (CHES).