Sexuality and Getting Older

Senior Couple Holding HandsIf you're in your 50s or 60s, you may notice that your sex drive isn't what it used to be. That's because your ovaries stop making certain hormones at menopause, which may result in physical changes that affect your sex life.

But don't worry — there are many solutions. If you remain healthy, you can most likely enjoy sex for as long as you wish.

Challenges of Sex in Later Years

Having sex later in life can present challenges, such as being embarrassed by changing levels of performance, having little or no sex drive or difficulty reaching orgasm, or experiencing discomfort or pain during sex due to thinner, drier vaginal walls. Dealing with a variety of medical conditions can also make your sex life more difficult.

Many of these physical conditions can be treated successfully. There are pills, gels, and patches to boost your sex drive, and lubrication for vaginal dryness. Even if you haven't had sexual intercourse for years, you can still find relief from vaginal dryness by using estrogen cream. Plus, safe sex has an added benefit for older women: condoms are lubricated.

If you're having sex with multiple partners, safe sexual practices to avoid sexually transmitted infections are even more important as you get older. That's because your immune system gets weaker and your vaginal walls get thinner, making you more vulnerable to disease. Always use a condom and lubricant if you're not in a monogamous relationship.

Another hindrance to having a satisfying sex life in your later years may be tied to age-related emotional issues such as depression and grief, which can lead to loss of libido.

If you're troubled by any of these problems, have a frank discussion with your doctor. These are common issues among older women, and we can help you find workable solutions.

Keep an Open Mind

Patience and an open mind may be the greatest gifts you can give yourself and your partner as you express your sexuality throughout your lifetime.

As your physical and emotional needs shift and change as you get older, consider looking at intimacy in a different way. It may become more about closeness — kissing, holding hands, and cuddling. Don't be afraid to talk about your needs and desires around intimacy. Above all, be patient, and give your body time to respond.

Remember that good health helps your body function better, and that enhances sexual performance. Eating right and exercising regularly can boost your sex drive and your overall sense of well-being. 

Just as exercise helps you maintain muscle tone and strength, having sex on a regular basis promotes your desire and sexual ability. Even if you've been celibate for years, you can still have a satisfying sex life.

Not everyone will find or want a partner late in life, but most people still have sexual urges. Masturbation may play a much larger role as you get older. Sexual stimulation is a significant part of our lives, and it's important to realize that, for many, this is a basic human need.

If your sex life isn't satisfying, don't hesitate to talk with your doctor or women's health care provider. We're here to help you sort through your concerns and find solutions that will work for you.