Sexual Arousal and Aging

Sexual responses are different in older men and women than younger people. Just getting older is one cause of the change in response, but things other than age can also have an effect. For example, some medicines can affect how you respond to sexual activity. Some diseases such as diabetes or heart disease can make it harder to have or keep an erection.

What are the changes in sexual arousal in older women?

As women get older, they may have the changes in their genital area and their physical responses during sex, such as:

  • As women age, the walls of the vagina get thinner. The vagina also gets shorter and narrower and it’s harder for it to get bigger during sex.
  • It may take 1 to 3 minutes for the vagina to get wet in women over 40. (It may take only 10 to 30 seconds for younger women.)
  • Some women over age 60 have painful cramps during orgasm.

Even though it may take longer to be aroused, older women can have normal orgasms, especially if they have stayed sexually active.

Five to 10 years after menopause, some women may have problems with vaginal dryness. Those who do not have sex and do not masturbate may have trouble receiving a partner's penis unless they use a lubricant. Water-based lubricants, such as K-Y jelly, Aqua Lube, or in-store generic brands, can help.

Many older women may be aroused by reading love stories or watching romances on TV. Other women may fantasize about sex. These things may help them stay sexually responsive. On the other hand, some women lose their interest in sex as they get older. Some surveys suggest that many women who have stopped having sex are not very interested having a sex life as they get older.

What are the changes in sexual arousal in older men?

Some of the changes older men may have in their genital area or their response during sex are:

  • Men over 60 have less rigid erections and have erections less often than younger men.
  • Older men take longer to ejaculate. It’s also harder for them to know when they are about to ejaculate. The ejaculation itself is not as forceful as it used to be.

What can I do to have a better sex life as I get older?

Touching and sharing help couples of any age enjoy a satisfying sexual relationship. Here are some things you can do that may improve your sexual relationship:

  • Try making love in the morning. Being well rested after a good night's sleep can mean good sex. Older men are more likely to have a firm erection in the morning.
  • Focus on foreplay. Share a romantic dinner, dance, or give each other a massage.
  • Discuss changes, share suggestions, and talk about fantasies. Tell and show your partner what feels good and how you like to be touched.
  • Keep in mind that cuddling, kissing, and sharing fantasies can be satisfying even without intercourse.

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Published by RelayHealth.
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