Category Archives: better sex after 50

Sexual Problems In Men

Erectile Dysfunction

Even when erectile dysfunction is based on a physical condition, it is always made worse by a downward spiral of anxiety and ever more likely failure to perform. When this cycle of anxiety and failure to perform is broken the majority of men experience a dramatic reduction in erectile difficulty.

Back in 1988, Arnold Melman, Leonore Tiefer, and Ronald Pedersen, published a paper in Urology which evaluated the origin of erectile dysfunction in 406 men. These men were seen in the authors’ Centre For Male Sexual Dysfunction between March 1981 and July 1983.

They were either referred by a doctor or self referred, and initially seen by a urologist for a physical examination and a medical consultation. Those men who said that they could maintain a rigid erection for more than 5 minutes in certain situations were offered psychosexual therapy, as were those with delayed ejaculation.

All other men were scheduled for two nights of evaluation in a private room at the center. They could undergo not only confidential interviews by a psychologist to focus on any possible psychological factors. They also had a physical investigation of erectile capacity during the viewing of a sexually stimulating film and during sleep.

The psychological investigation focused on various factors. These included the men’s psychopathology, incorrect beliefs about sex or sexual activity, emotional states such as depression, anxiety, shame, and anger which might be interfering with sexual performance. There was also relationship analysis for factors like  poor communication, hostility, fear of rejection, and the lack of attraction to his partner.

(The investigators also conducted a separate interview with the man’s primary sexual partner. That way, they could corroborate the facts described by the man, and evaluate further treatment methodologies and options.)

During the investigation into erectile dysfunction, if a man experienced an erection either as he watched a sexually stimulating film or during a night’s sleep, a technician would estimate the quality of his erection, record the degree of erection on a Polaroid photograph if possible, and take a record of the man’s own estimate of the quality of his erection.

In summary, a man’s erectile function was regarded as being normal when his erection was 80% or more of his normal erection capacity, and the erection was sustained for more than 5 minutes.

Another investigative technique used was the measurement of penile blood pressure and blood flow using a blood pressure cuff and ultrasonic flow detectors. By getting the patient to execute 25 pelvic tilts, it was possible to estimate the amount of redistribution of blood or “steal” syndrome. This might have been releavnt to delayed ejaculation.

Diagnoses and treatment for erectile dysfunction and delayed ejaculation

After all the data had been collected, the urologist and psychologist reviewed the data together. They then established a treatment option to be presented to man and his sexual partner. They established five categories of sexual dysfunction:

1 Purely organic: in order to be classified as purely organic, a man’s erection problems had to incorporate the absence of any erections sufficient for penetration, the man and his partner to be in agreement about the absence of normal erections, and there needed to be an absence of any significant psychological or emotional factor.

In addition, perhaps not surprisingly, there also needed to be the presence of some clearly identifiable disease, treatment, or drug which was known to cause erection problems.

2 Primarily organic: in the absence of normal erections, together with the presence of a condition known to be responsible for the loss of erection, a man’s problems could be diagnosed as primarily organic.

3 Primarily psychogenic: a man’s problems would fall into this category when he was experiencing an absence of normal erections, and psychological factors seemed to be responsible for the dysfunction

4 Purely psychogenic: a man’s erection problems would fall into this category when he developed an erection adequate for penetration that lasted for 5 minutes or more, and when there were relevant psychological or emotional factors present, or when his erections returned after he had been interviewed and treated at the sexual dysfunction centre.

5 There was a fifth category in which the origin of erection problems was categorized as unknown: these were men who did not have maximum capacity erections and in whom there was no obvious explanation, either physical or psychological, to explain the absence of normal erections.

A small majority of men (56%) seen at the centre were in their sixth or seventh decade of life: 76.4% of men were married. In total, out of 406 men, 117 (almost 29%), were diagnosed as having organic erectile dysfunction. 161 (39.6%) were diagnosed as having psychogenic erectile dysfunction. 62 or just over 15% were diagnosed as having diminished erectile capacity due to an organic problem that had been made worse by psychological or emotional factors. 40 men (9.9%) had primarily psychological or psychogenic erectile dysfunction with some organic contribution. Finally, 26 men (which equates to 6.4%) had erectile dysfunction of unknown origin.

74% of men with insulin-dependent diabetes had an organic or primarily organic diagnosis, and the other 26% of diabetic men were thought to have erection problems which originated in predominantly psychological causes, even though their diabetes was quite severe.

Analysis of the men who had erection problems that were regarded as being psychological or emotional in origin revealed that only 25% of these men had maximum capacity erections under any circumstances. And 22% did not have maximum erectile capacity in any situation but managed to resume having intercourse after they had been seen at the centre.

Vascular impairment

Vascular impairment was assessed by analysis of the blood flow measurement through the penis. Also take into account was the man’s medical history, and his ability to obtain an erection during the night and/or with visual stimulation.

There was a significant difference between men whose erection problems were regarded as organic in origin and those whose erection problems were regarded as psychological in origin. The results of this investigation will be discussed in a moment.


Hormonal analysis was conducted on 383 of the men. Men with low testosterone had significantly reduced duration of erections at maximum capacity: 3.9 minutes versus 9.2 minutes. Also, the men who had the highest estradiol levels were more likely to be classified as having organic or primarily organic erection problems.

Treatment of erection problems

The majority of men who went through this study were advised to undergo some form of sex therapy including marriage counseling when necessary.

Although about a quarter of men in the study did not wish to pursue any further treatment, some men benefited from the discovery of firm erections during the investigation. Others had renewed sexual interest sparked by the evaluation process, so that erections began to develop at home again.

What does it all mean?

Even back in 1988, frank discussions of male sexual dysfunction in the media had encouraged men and partners to seek help. They were ready to come into sexual clinics and doctors’ offices. 

When lack of erection could be correlated with the use of medication the man’s drugs were changed or the patient motivated to undergow lifestayle changes. For example, smoking was a major cause of erection problems, and men would be encouraged to give up smoking.

The investigators reported that, as they had anticipated, the consequences of type I and type II diabetes were the predominant causes of organic erectile failure in the men in this population.

Other men with impaired glucose tolerance also had organic erectile dysfunction. This led investigators to believe an organic diagnosis could only be made in some situations: i.e. when there was a complete absence of rigid erections, a corroborative history, and the presence of relevant organic factors. They stated that low blood flow in the penis, diabetes, medication, prior pelvic surgery, and other factors, alone or in combination, would not necessarily mean a man had a physical rather than psychological cause for his erection problems.

They also emphasised that it was important to establish true causality. One of the reasons for this was that some organic factors are reversible: for example, abnormally low levels of hormone, smoking, use of drugs, some vascular lesions of the penis, and some problems such as Peyronie’s disease.

Other men, however, had irreversible organic erectile problems, and the team suggested their expectations of treatment should be managed, and treatment adapted accordingly. The study was conducted in the early days of papaverine injections, which had begun to allow return to satisfactory intercourse for men. Viagra had not yet appeared on the market.

The authors noted that psychogenic factors were present in 66% of the cases of erectile dysfunction they had seen. They concluded, in the light of the knowledge available to them at the time, that such patients could best be served by counseling and re-education about the realities of sexual function.

As time has gone by, of course, the situation has changed and we now know that counseling and Viagra (or one of its counterpart medications) probably represents the best possible option for men in this situation, perhaps with the addition of testosterone supplementation where there are indications for such treatment. 

Myths About Sex After 50 (Part 3)

Here, we’re going to examine some more myths about sex after 50

Sex is shameful

Unfortunately many of us were brought up with the idea that sex is somehow shameful, or if not shameful, at least something to keep quiet about, something that needs to be hidden from the world.

Regrettable as this is, it’s up to us to change out thinking if we believe it. Consider genital play or masturbation, for example. What were you told about this very natural form of self pleasure as a young adult? Probably something like this: it could stunt your growth, make you mad or go blind, would spoil your sex life as an adult, or even perhaps that it would cause you in some mysterious way to go to hell!

The problem is that as children we tend to believe what we’re told, even when that information is misguided, if not malicious. No matter how much as an adult you might tell yourself that masturbation is a very healthy and pleasurable activity, it would be very surprising if you didn’t have some inhibitions about it. There is no clearer example of this than the fact that partners who are enjoying a sexual relationship very often find it excruciatingly embarrassing to talk about masturbation with their partner, let alone to do it with them.

Far from giving up masturbation when you get into a committed sexual relationship as an adult, my suggestion is to enjoy it even more often and for longer!

Self pleasuring is a fantastic alternative to sexual intercourse when you don’t want to go down that road. Sharing masturbation can show you how to please your partner when you yourself don’t want the ins and outs of penetration.

More fundamentally, it allows you to discuss those aspects of your relationship you normally keep hidden from your partner. Yes, of course you might have to admit that you do indeed masturbate in private from time to time: but there’s no shame in that, and, particularly for men, masturbation can be a valuable way of relieving sexual tension without making the whole performance into a big deal.

So it’s a serious suggestion, therefore, to incorporate lots of masturbation into your sex life. You’ll find it’s very helpful indeed if one of you has a high sex drive than the other. When you’re masturbating your partner, you can focus entirely on their pleasure without any sense of performance anxiety yourself. When they are masturbating you, you can just lie back and enjoy it to the full without any worries about pleasing them.

More importantly, masturbating with each other removes the worry about who’s going to come first, or taking it in turns, or am I going to last long enough? It doesn’t matter how long it takes to reach orgasm, and there is no need to try and synchronise your orgasms.

But how do you overcome the embarrassment that stopped you masturbating together in the first place? I think the answer to this is very simple indeed — just do it! By now you will have read lots of ideas for opening up communication between you and your partner, and you may already be able to bring this up comfortably. For example: “I thought it might be fun if we just snuggled together for a while and then perhaps we could bring each other off with our hands — or maybe even our mouths!” Of course — as you know — every couple has its own code to these matters, and no doubt you can find a way of saying it that you feel comfortable with.

We’ll come back to the subject of mutual masturbation and shared masturbation in the exercises for a great sex life.

Overcoming sexual trauma

Don’t believe for a moment that if you were traumatized by abuse of one kind or another that you’re stuck forever with the consequences. Yes, it is certainly true that your relationships will be impacted by the history of abuse that you experienced.

And yet at the same time, in a long-term relationship with a partner who you trust at a very deep level you can get over sexual shame. 

Having said that, you may need professional help to get to point where you’re able to open up. In a way, healing from sexual trauma is a subject beyond the scope of this website and so we would like to recommend a starting point for you which you can find here. Not only is it a very perceptive article on the subject of sexual and other forms of abuse, but there are number of links to other resources which may be helpful for you in exploring how you can overcome a traumatic past.

Lack of romance

It’s all too easy in a monogamous relationship to take your partner for granted. The days when the intensity of your love or passion motivated you to be romantic, affectionate, and enjoy exciting sex may have passed. Instead, it now requires a conscious effort on your part to be romantic.

The problem is that many other things get in the way of thinking about romance. Life can be stressful; there’s no doubt about that: the demands of family, work, home, and especially these days, financial matters, all conspire to take our minds off romance and diminish the intimacy we feel with our partners.

Often, after romance has dwindled away, we feel foolish at the prospect of trying to behave romantically. And we may begin to justify our inactivity: sex, you may say, should be spontaneous! Or, it’s so childish to play at romance: that’s what teenagers do. And so on. And yet, the ironic thing is that romance is is appreciated by everyone – both those giving it, and those receiving it.

Romance is a way of creating a relaxed and inviting situation in which sex can happen — maybe even spontaneous sex! Playing at romance can help you to overcome the seriousness with which we sometimes treat sex in a long-term relationship. And deciding as a partnership to take time for sex, or deciding individually to treat your partner to a romantic experience is essential to keep your sex life passionate and exciting.

Even if trying to be romantic makes you feel self-conscious and silly, at least you have the consolation of knowing that taking the first step is the hardest part. Once you start, once you’ve made the initial effort, matters tend to take on a momentum of their own. You can reconnect with your romantic impulses in many different ways: some suggestions about rekindling romance are included in the exercises which you can find in another section of the site.

Anger and resentment are inevitable

What do you do if you feel angry or resentful towards your long-term partner? Do you suppress these emotions, and wait until you’re in a good enough mood that lets you tolerate sex with them? Do you experience the frustration of not speaking out about the issues that are on your mind? Do you end up feeling frustrated and angry that your partner seems to take you for granted, misses your wishes, needs and desires, and doesn’t pick up on the subtleties and nuances of how you feel?

Well, I have some surprising news for you! This is probably your fault. If you’re not communicating how you feel it’s unreasonable for you to expect your partner to know. Very often anger is just a build-up of frustration about unexpressed thoughts and feelings.

Of course, there are many things that seem too trivial to express in a long-term relationship; but when they’re not expressed they become a source of resentment which undermines the relationship. 

Turning yourself off

We’ve already covered the question of turning yourself off and turning yourself on. At this point all I wish to reiterate is the fact that you do have much more control over the way you feel and your emotional responses than you probably believe right now.

How are you to access that control, you may ask? By considering which form of therapy and or counselling you may wish to pursue. After all, this is not about living a limited life. And to live a full life, you need to make sure that your shadow does not get in the way of achieving the fullest expression of yourself.

In practical terms what this means is that you need to take a decision to change things: and to commit to personal change,  regardless of what form of therapy you choose..

The mid life crisis won’t affect you

I have absolutely no doubt at all that there is a time in almost every man’s life when he goes through significant psychological and physical changes. Happily, this can be dealt with fairly easily. You can find ideas on how to beat the midlife crisis here.

In conclusion

We could go on, but I think you’ve probably now got the idea. No matter what you think and feel about the long term sexual relationship you have with your partner, the truth is that you have the power in your hands to change it for the better.

That might mean getting professional help, or it might just mean following some of the suggestions given here to help you establish a more passionate sex life. It certainly means – at some level – taking a decision to stay faithful to your partner and change the quality of your sex with each other so that you get more arousal, passion and reward (fun and orgasm). 

Myths About Sex After 50 (Part 2)

Some more myths about sex after 50

Selfish sex is bad!

No, it isn’t, because it’s only by asking your partner for what you want that you are a likely to get it – and be satisfied with the results!

Those people who are too obsessed with pleasing their partners tend to have bad relationships because they don’t communicate. They may not be in touch with their own feelings, don’t know how to get sexual pleasure, and are resentful of the fact that their sex life is “all give and no take”.

Sex which is constantly aimed at the pleasure of your partner is just frustrating sex; it’s not likely to lead to much fulfilment for you. Reframe the idea of “selfish sex” as simply seeking out the best way to find joy in a sexual relationship. This may make it easier for you to overcome your embarrassment and ask your partner for whatever it is that you want.

In the end this is a much healthier route to sexual satisfaction. Compared, that is, to waiting in frustration for your partner to miraculously work out what it is you want and give it to you! Further more, when your relationship is truly monogamous, you need to express your sexual needs before they become too strong and remain unfulfilled – that way lies temptation….

When both partners seek to please themselves during sex rather than expecting their partners to do so, you finally begin to have a relationship where sexual equality is possible. You satisfy each other. You start by asking for what you want and your partner agrees to give it to you, in the expectation that you will do exactly the same for them.

This is true sexual equality, and gives both partners the chance of sexual satisfaction.

Sexual problems cannot be solved

This is a truly pernicious myth about sex after 50. By sexual problems, here I mean things like delayed ejaculation, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and low sex drive. Each and every one of these problems has a solution. Delayed ejaculation can be overcome by training the body and mind to become more aroused. Erectile dysfunction can be overcome by using drugs like Cialis and Viagra. And so on. There is a solution for every problem: sometimes that involves medicine, sometimes it involves therapy.

You must always put your partner first.

It’s a kind of charming, old-fashioned notion of the romantic man seducing the lady, taking her to bed and making her swoon with delight.

Whatever the truth of these stereotypes, one thing is certain: your partner is a sexual woman, with desires, lusts, fantasies and sexual needs. And what that means in practice is that if you’re hung up about the relationship between women and sex, or you don’t know much about female sexuality, then be prepared for a few shocks.

As you get to know a woman within a long term relationship, and your sexual relationship develops, you will find there is a sexual goddess close to the surface: a sexual goddess whose lustfulness may surprise you in its intensity. It should also means there is nothing that you can share in the sexual arena which is embarrassing or off-limits (provided it’s not harmful, coercive or distasteful to your partner).

To achieve full openness and an absence of sexual inhibitions with your partner is a wonderful experience. So ask yourself how you would feel in any of the following situations: watching her masturbate or masturbating her; having her watch you masturbate or having her masturbate you; enjoying mutual masturbation or watching her using sex toys to masturbate; using a vibrator to bring her to orgasm.

If you are inhibited by an image of your partner as a Madonna stereotype, saintly and sexless, then you really need to share some uninhibited sexual experiences which will blow these illusions away.

Masturbating together in an uninhibited way can be a very good start in this process for it removes performance pressure. That’s because it teaches you what your partner likes in the way of genital touch. You also learn that it doesn’t matter who comes first or second, and it helps you to shed your embarrassment about sexuality. There’s something about the act of shared masturbation which breaks down inhibitions rather quickly and helps couples learn about others’ sexual needs and desires. Sexual embarrassment is much more common than you might realise.

The same is true of discussing fantasies, with the proviso that if your partner shares them with you, you must respect what they say.

If you’re a woman you may have fallen victim of the pernicious myth that men want perfect bodies.

As you may have noticed, however, most men are with partners who do not have perfect bodies! This is because the supply of physical perfection is a little bit thin on the ground nowadays!

The truth is that men are far less critical of women’s bodies than are women themselves. The reality is that most women are extremely critical of their own bodies, and very conscious of what may be wrong: whether that is breast size, the amount of fat on their bodies, the tightness of their vaginas, slackness of their butts, the double chin… or whatever.

But to focus on what is wrong with our bodies, or what we believe to be wrong with our bodies, just reinforces those issues in our minds (and indeed in the minds of our partners). If you are told something is bad for long enough you come to believe it. If you focus on the good things instead, then those become predominant in your consciousness. Monogamy is not about avoiding reality – it is about embracing it. Sex in a monogamous relationship is not about desiring perfection: it’s about appreciating the beauty of what you have.

That statement has a profound truth in it. And that is that we’re all responsible for how we look, and we’re all responsible for how sexually fit and healthy we are.

Loving and accepting our bodies is certainly necessary before our partners can be expected to love and accept them. Remember the old expression “beauty comes from within”? Well, you are what you believe: if you believe you are attractive, you are more attractive. 

If you look at this list of what men want in a lover, you’ll see that nowhere is the issue of body size or shape mentioned.

Myths About Sex After 50 (Which Men & Women Believe)

Here, we look at some common myths about sex after 50 that women hold. MYTHS!

You can’t have good long-term sex in a relationship.

Start by refocusing your energy, in particular your sexual energy, from anything outside your existing relationship, and back into your relationship. Then, there is every reason to think you can have wonderful sex with your committed partner for years to come.

Video – sex in a long term relationship

If you believe that you’re currently in a relationship with the wrong person, that might be different issue. Even there I’d ask if you’ve devoted energy to trying to put things right and establish a better relationship. (As opposed to just making the assumption that your relationship is doomed. Ultimately, of course, only you know the answer to that question.)

There’s a rather similar related issue here: the belief that monogamy is unnatural. That’s often put forward as a justification for unfaithfulness. Here’s one point of view on this.

In strict socio-biological terms, monogamy is not natural…but what makes us different a a species is that we at least have the means to make a choice. We can decide whether we wish to sustain sexual monogamy with one other person for the rest of our lives (or at least for as long as the relationship lasts).

Bear in mind also, that what you call good sex depends how you define it.…. number of orgasms? Amount of pleasure – even if that comes from seeing your partner happy rather than having an orgasm yourself?

Just enjoying the chance to express your sexuality? How do you define good sex? Is that a definition your partner would agree with? Have you ever asked them what makes sex good for them?

Video  – what is good sex for men?

Video  – what is good sex for women?

We can’t control who we fall in love with.

This is a myth that has driven people’s choice of partner for a very long time. The reality is actually very different. We all make choices about who we fall in love with, whether we know it or not.

These choices are based on

  • who is geographically available
  • the kind of relationship we want
  • the kind of person we want to have a relationship with
  • the needs that we believe will be met in relationship with someone
  • the excitement we want to experience in relationship
  • the sort of person that we find physically attractive
  • the needs we have that we believe a person can meet
  • and the degree of self-actualisation that we think we will achieve in relationship with a particular person.

Relationships are not generated randomly; affairs of the heart are a myth, in the sense that we all actively choose our partner from the pool of people available to us.

What this means in practice is that if you choose to have an affair, you’re not just blindly falling in love. Rather, you’re fulfilling some need, perhaps one in the list above. A need that you see as giving you potentially more gratification than your existing relationship.

Attraction Always Leads to Sex

To believe this is to believe that our sexual arousal and sexual desire is an uncontrollable beast waiting to overcome us with its unimaginable power. It’s a myth!

Whether you feel like a teenager or not, lusting after every possible sexual outlet is immature. You have a choice about acting or not acting on your sexual desire. To be sexually aroused is a pleasurable thing – no doubt about it. But it really does NOT have to be taken any further. But over 50, such things can seem compelling. It may seem important to act on an urge which is, perhaps unusually for you at this age, strong.

But just because you have an erection, or you feel yourself getting wet, does not mean that you are in the grip of an uncontrollable process which will inevitably take you to bed with person who is the object of your lust.

Even if you’re dancing with somebody and you feel aroused, or you’re flirting with them and they respond to you, that does not mean you have to take it any further!

Instead, take those urges home to your primary relationship, and use the energy you’ve generated to increase the quality and frequency of sex with your partner.

Age inhibits sex, or the pleasure of sex

It may be that comparison with past performance or past ability or past potency leaves you feeling inadequate in midlife. Certainly the rampant erection of your youth may have softened, your erect penis may no longer point to the heavens, and it may indeed get soft during sex more easily than it used to do. But sex after 50 can be better than ever before. Read this to find out why.

Certainly the level of desire that you feel may have lessened and softened and mellowed. And the length of time between penetration and and orgasm may have increased. But does any of this matter if you are still just as capable of initiating sexual activity and just as capable as getting as much pleasure from it as you always did?

True, in midlife and beyond you may need physical stimulation to get an erection. You may need longer periods of thrusting after penetration to reach ejaculation. (You may even have delayed ejaculation.) You may not be able to get erect again as soon after a session of sex as you once could. (You may even have erectile dysfunction.)

But none of these changes need spoil sex or the pleasure you derive from it. If you have problems getting erect there is Viagra. If you have problems with you sexual drive there is testosterone replacement therapy.

So much of what we believe about midlife changes around male sexuality is clearly a myth. This is clearly demonstrated by the fact that women who go through the menopause fall into two broad groups: the first made up of women who lose interest in sex, and the second of women who find the menopause to be sexually liberating and a gateway to greater sexual activity.

The difference appears to be that the first group of women simply believe that women lose interest in sex after the menopause. The second group of women believe that freedom from menstruation, fear of pregnancy, and the need to use contraception, is a liberation which will improve their sex lives. And as you believe, so shall you experience.

Men want a perfect woman in bed with them

As you may have noticed, however, most men are with partners who do not have perfect bodies. The simple truth is that the supply of physical perfection is a little bit thin on the ground nowadays.

So what, you may say to yourself, men just make do with what they can get. Yet, in general, men are far less critical of women’s bodies than are women themselves.

 The reality is that most women are extremely critical of their own bodies, and very conscious of what may be wrong: whether that is breast size, the amount of fat on their bodies, the tightness of their vaginas, slackness of their butts, the double chin… or whatever. (Men tend to be more conscious of the size of their penis, but are subject to other self-doubts and self denigration.)

But to focus on what is wrong with our bodies, or what we believe to be wrong with our bodies, just reinforces those issues in our minds (and indeed in the minds of our partners).

 If you are told something is bad for long enough you come to believe it; if you focus on the good things instead, then those become predominant in your consciousness. Monogamy is not about avoiding reality: it is about embracing it. Sex in a monogamous relationship is not about desiring perfection: it’s about appreciating the beauty of what you have. (For help in changing the limiting beliefs you hold, professional support from a therapist trained in such arts as shadow work can be helpful.)

That may sound like a trite statement but actually it has a profound truth in it. That is simply this: we are all responsible for how we look and we are all responsible for how fit and healthy we are.

To complain about our appearance without making any effort to change it is rather sad, because loving and accepting our bodies is certainly necessary before our partners can be expected to love and accept them.

Remember the old expression “beauty comes from within”? Well, you are what you believe: if you believe you are attractive, you become more attractive.