Some sexual dysfunctions stop your sex life after 50 years of age.
(By sexual dysfunction I mean things like premature ejaculation, loss of erection, low sexual drive or delayed ejaculation.)
Video – treatment for premature and delayed ejaculation
Oddly enough, however, premature ejaculation does not usually stop a couple having sex. While it may leave a man feeling slightly inadequate as a lover, and it may leave his partner feeling frustrated if she has not had an orgasm, it rarely leads to sex stopping altogether.
Perhaps this is because premature ejaculation is most often seen in younger men, whose sex drive is so high that a little thing like coming quickly is unlikely to stop them having sex.
Some men are unable to ejaculate during intercourse, which can certainly lead to the death of sex in a relationship. Men who thrust for upwards of an hour without reaching orgasm and ejaculating are lovers whose partners very quickly tend to get turned off! (See a decent book on delayed ejaculation here.)
For one thing they are sore. For another they are irritated and rarely enjoy an orgasm themselves. One has to ask, of course, what dynamics are at work in a couple where a woman who is so dissatisfied with the level of sexual pleasure she is receiving does not assert herself so that things change.
In many cases low sexual desire is simply a sign that somebody has turned themselves off sex. Don’t misunderstand me: I am not suggesting that people do this deliberately. However, I guess that can happen where a man or woman is more or less consciously using sex as a power tool within the relationship.
Much more often, low sexual desire is a sign that a person has turned themselves off because their dissatisfaction with the dynamics of the relationship or the sex they are having is too great. (But don’t forget the possibility of hormonal changes too.)
You may think it’s surprising that we can turn ourselves off. And yet we turn ourselves on, do we not?
How often have you set the scene by preparing the room, setting aside enough time, getting the oil and lotions ready, running a bath, seducing your partner with dinner or a slow, relaxed evening in by the fire? If we turn ourselves on sexually in this way, what is there to stop us turning ourselves off sexually?
Think back for a moment to the days when you were a teenager. What caused those spontaneous erections, the damp panties, the ready arousal, the need to masturbate, the constant sexual tension?
In short, as you may recall, almost anything: a glimpse of a small area of flesh, the site of the girl’s bra strap, or a flash of her belly; a group of boys playing sport in athletic vests and shorts; a sweaty team on the league basketball or netball pitch; a suggestion of sex in the movies; a fleeting fantasy; a pair of closed curtains in a bedroom window; all these things – and thousands more – were enough, consciously or unconsciously noted, to arouse us, to promote sexual desire.
And yet what did you do? Most of us somehow turned ourselves off; for even as teenagers, it is inappropriate to give expression to all the sexual stimulation we get as we go through life.
As we get older, we become even more turned off. Sexual stimuli assault us from every side: we may fantasize, for example, about our work partners and colleagues, or about our friends’ partners.
Or we may have sexual fantasies provoked by films, television, and magazine articles, especially in these days where the cult of the celebrity seems to rule popular culture. But we do not act upon these fantasies.
What do you do when you feel a surge of sexual attraction to a stranger, an attractive member of the opposite sex on the subway or the bus, or in the parking lot, or the grocery queue?
What if you catch sight of somebody who really turns you on? As a responsible adult you certainly do not give way to sexual desire and start acting it out. Especially not if you are already in a long-term relationship. Instead, you turn yourself off.
And in turning ourselves off, we lose much of the potential excitement of our own sexuality, and that of the people around us. I’m not suggesting, of course, that it’s appropriate to respond sexually to the touch of an attractive man or woman on the subway.
What I am saying is that I believe we do ourselves a grave disservice by numbing ourselves to sexual stimulation in this way, because when we go home to our long-term partner we are turned off sexually.
Yes: we are turned off sexually, and it takes much more effort to move back into a sexual place. More effort, that is, than it would if we were open to our sexuality and ready to accept that we are sexual beings, all of the time, everywhere we go. And no, of course we do not have to respond to the sexual stimuli we receive on the way.
At least, not at the time we receive them, and not with the person concerned. What we can do is to take that arousal home and bring it into our lives with our partners.
Loss of erection – erectile dysfunction –
This is a common enough problem. Whether it happens all the time or just occasionally, or anywhere in between, it can be a major blow to your sexual self-confidence. It can really put you off sex, because losing your erection is seen by most men as a loss of manhood or masculinity. You can read a good book on the subject of erectile dysfunction here.
One of the more serious reasons why people become sexually inhibited within relationship is that they have experienced sexual abuse in childhood. You can overcome sexual abuse with the support and love of your partner or with the help of a professional therapist.
Certainly experiencing some sensual exercises within a loving relationship with the support of a trusted sexual partner can make massive steps in overcoming sexual abuse. In simplistic terms it’s a matter of breaking the association between sex and traumatic experience, and replacing it with an association between sex and pleasure. Read more about this here.
Of course in practice things are a little bit more complicated than that. People who were sexually abused in childhood may have become sexually aroused during the abuse. They may have a residual but strong sense of guilt around sexual activities.
If they also feel shame about their sexuality and sexual desires then it becomes proportionately harder to free up the psyche so that sex becomes truly pleasurable.
How do you see your body? How do you think your partner sees your body?
Video – body image and sex after 50
We live in a society where there are very prominent images of the desirable male and female body peddled all around, in every media that we look at. As a result, many of us have issues about our bodily appearance or about the appearance of parts of our body. For women in particular the appearance of the genitals can be a source of fear and shame.
And of course, it is not just the appearance of our bodies that can bother us. If we imagine our bodies have secretions that are somehow distasteful, then we fall just as much into the trap of wanting a perfect body as do those who believe that they are too fat, or too thin, or that their breasts are uneven, or their penis is too small, or whatever.
Many men and women have an aversion to parts of their own or their partner’s body.
Some men have a strong aversion to the vagina, so much so that they cannot look at it all, or even bear to touch it. This problem is no joke, for acceptance of one’s body is about as fundamental a sign of acceptance of oneself as it is possible to imagine.
And if one does not accept one’s own body, it is impossible to imagine anyone else accepting it. From there it is but a short step to declining sex because you are frightened of your partner’s response to what you look like, smell like, (or even sound like), as you make love. We shall look at ways in which people can become more comfortable with their body and their partner’s body later in the website.