5 ways to improve your sex life as you age

Overhead view of senior couple hiding in blanket on bed

Image: Wavebreak Media Ltd / Bigstock/com

At what age do we lose interest in sex? How you answer probably depends on how old you are.

For a 20-year-old, 60 could be far enough away to suggest that’s the answer. For a 50-year-old it could be that 70 feels like a reasonable answer. Yet an 80-year-old may simply say, ‘I’ll let you know when I get there.’

The reality is that despite common perceptions about sex and ageing, ‘People do not become asexual as they age,’ say Patricia and Don Edgar in their book Peak: Reinventing Middle Age. They refer to one study that finds women aged 61-85 being sexually active.

And more than a decade ago, Doreen Wendt-Weir demonstrated that sex was a regular part of seniors’ lives when she convinced 33 70+-year-olds to talk about their sex lives for her book Sex in Your Seventies.

Then there’s a 2017 Latrobe University report that says, ‘international studies have consistently shown many, but not all, people continue to have sex well into older age.’

The report found changes from previous studies with the current older generation more likely to ‘form new sexual relationships in later life, following the end of long-term monogamous relationships’; are using online dating sites; and there’s a sharp increase in sexually transmitted infections in those aged 60 and over.

These changes indicate that sexual intimacy for the ‘many, but not all’ continues well into the senior years. And, for couples, it’s a natural part of a relationship.  So, rather than ignore the reality of senior sex, it’s worth asking how can I make this part of my life better as I age? Here are five suggestions:

1. Communicate

Not everybody likes to talk about sex, but couples must—to each other. Kate McCombs, a sex and relationships educator says, ‘When you avoid those vital conversations, you might avoid some awkwardness, but you’re also settling for suboptimal sex.’

She’s quoted in a post ‘How to talk about sex’, which is worth checking out to help with your conversation.

2. Do the research

If you’re reading this, I assume you’re thinking about retirement. That means you’re ageing. There’s a lot of research that can  help you understand what’s likely to happen to you and your partner as you get older.

‘The desire for intimacy is timeless,’ says the Mayo Clinic. ‘As you age, sex may not be the same as it was in your 20s, but it can still be very fulfilling.’ The post then goes on to explain what’s likely to happen as you age, which makes a good start for your research.

3. It’s about more than you

Sex with your partner isn’t only about you. Selfish sex is about taking. Fulfilling sex is about giving and sharing—a joint venture, if you like. Both may lead to the same kind of climax, but it’s the latter that builds the relationship and greater satisfaction.

Bryan Craig, in Searching for Intimacy in Marriage, says, ‘When we embrace sex only as performance, passion and positions, it becomes superficial, exploitative and degrading.’ Better sex comes ‘from a desire to form an intimate union with one another where love and caring transcend self-interest, and create emotional connection, and fulfilment.’

4. The health connection

There’s a lot of research that says that sex is good for your health—a quick Google search will find it. But there’s the other side that needs to be considered. Poor health is bad for your sex life.

Here are some Harvard Health tips to improve your sex life: Exercise; quit smoking; drink alcohol in moderation; control your weight; and a have a healthy diet.

5. Adapt to your limitations

As you age, illness and disease may decrease both your sexual desire and abilities. If this should happen, these are realities you need to deal with, but that doesn’t necessarily mean you can’t have a satisfying sex life. It could take patience and creativity, but it’s worth the effort.

The best retirement takes a whole-of-life approach. That includes working on your sex life.

Bruce Manners is the author of Retirement Ready? and Refusing to Retire, and founder of RetireNotes.com

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Category: Ageing, Couples

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