Many people think that sex after 50 doesn’t exist, and that sex is the preserve of bright young things – teenagers and 20-year-olds, perhaps 30-year-olds at a stretch.
But the truth the matter is that people over 50 are just as interested in sex as anybody else – and sex in midlife can be wonderful.
One of the problems is that myths are spreading in society about what we can expect from sex in our later years – for example, there’s a common belief that people lose interest in sex after a certain age. The truth is that while sex may occur less frequently, our interest in sex doesn’t diminish: what does change, however, is the nature of sex and the quality of the factors that play into our sexual desire.
For example, it’s been demonstrated that people over 50 need a better quality relationship to get sexual satisfaction and pleasure than those in their 20s and 30s.
This is because we enjoy sexual connection and intimacy more as we get older – for example, it may become an affirmation of the relationship rather than just the release of sexual desire, perhaps.
It’s also a commonly held myth that men will become less functional sexually as they get older – perhaps suffering erectile dysfunction.
The truth is not so simple: men may experience low sexual desire because they have less testosterone, but what they actually need to get an erection is direct physical stimulation to the penis rather than just relying on their imagination or indeed their historical expected response – to get aroused – from simply being near a woman who wants to be sexually intimate.
And it’s certainly true that erections can be less firm as a man gets older, but that doesn’t make any difference to the pleasure of sex. The use of lubricant, either natural or artificial, will ensure that penetration and enjoyable intercourse is still possible.
On the female side of this equation, a lot of people believe that women become much less interested in sex after menopause – but the truth is diametrically opposite.
Freed from the burden of pregnancy, and the possibility of becoming pregnant, women can release their energies more freely during sexual intercourse and intimacy.
The main problems they face are about hormonal levels – vaginal dryness, in particular, can be a problem which causes discomfort during sex. Fortunately there are medications which are available such as estrogen supplementation in pellet form which can be placed directly in the vagina.
And it’s certainly untrue that a woman loses her ability to reach orgasm she gets older – that’s ludicrous! Often a woman’s orgasm frequency and intensity is much greater after the menopause.
When men can’t get an erection, they tend to lose a major part of their self-image of being a fertile and sexual man. Often the problem is physical – circulation problems, prostate problems, and sometimes side effects of prescription medications can all affect a man’s ability to get an erection. These PHYSICAL causes account for the vast majority of erectile difficulties.
Of course sex won’t stay the same as you get older, that’s inevitable because your fitness and health change, and it can be difficult, for example, to get into certain sexual positions.
But it’s important to keep sight of the fact that if you’re in a long-term relationship, you almost certainly know your partner very intimately indeed, and you’ll be very familiar with each other’s bodies.
This allows for a greater level of relaxation and confidence during sexual activity, and this in turn will produce much better and more enjoyable sex for both the man and the woman.
And because (inevitably) hormones are declining, and your sex drive with them, in many cases sex becomes the result of emotional attachment rather than simply physical desire – which makes it more satisfying and fulfilling for almost everybody.
(Hormone replacement therapy for men is available, in case you didn’t know that fact.)
Where a couple find sex less rewarding and fulfilling, the reason is likely to be some kind of emotional issue – perhaps a man or his partner has failed to accept the fact that aging is inevitable, with all the implications this has for damage to self-image.
Moving gracefully into old age is vital, and to accept who you are as you get older, may not be a simple process. It relies on emotional stability, emotional maturity, and acceptance of what is, rather than what you would like things to be.
Strangely enough, women tend find this process more easy than men – which is probably something to do with men having to retire and give up their work; this forms a massive part of most men’s self-identity throughout most of their life.
If you’re experiencing any difficulty about the changes happening to you in midlife, it’s well with finding a therapist or counsellor who has experience in this field.