Sexuality in Old Age - What Happens?

01 March, 2020
Although physical and psychological changes occur during old age that affect sexuality, this does not mean that it is the end of sexual life. What should you know about it?

There are still many myths about sexuality, and one of the most widespread is that it ends in old age. In fact, the opposite is true. Find out all about sexuality in old age right here…

There are women who say that their sex life began to thrive after their reproductive stage ended. Also, there are many men who think that after 50 years their sexuality will end. In reality, the opposite can happen.

The term “sexuality” is broad and encompasses many aspects of a person’s life. Dr. Herrera, Chief of Geriatrics Service in Chile, stressed that the concept of sexual health is this:

“The psychological expression of emotions and commitment that requires the greatest quantity and quality of communication between partners, in a relationship of trust, love, sharing and pleasure, with or without intercourse.”

Therefore, sexual life doesn’t only imply intercourse. It also includes other expressions of affection that contribute to bringing couples closer together.

Changes in sexuality in old age

As the body changes, it’s completely normal for the sexual organs to also undergo some changes.

For men, the changes are as follows:

  • Slower erections
  • After ejaculating there is a quicker decrease in erections
  • Short-lived orgasms
  • A longer refractory period after ejaculation

    A happy elderly couple.
    Inevitably, in old age there are changes that affect the sexuality of both men and women. However, that doesn’t mean that it’s the end of sexual life.

In women, the changes can be:

  • Fewer hormones that build sexual pleasure
  • Less vaginal lubrication
  • Shorter duration in orgasms
  • Fewer orgasmic contractions
  • Less intumescence of the clitoris
  • Rapid descent after orgasm

You may be interested in: Five types of orgasms and how to get there

Other changes in sexuality in old age

There are four phases in which changes occur in the sexual response cycle.

In men, these changes are the following:

  • It takes more time to achieve an erection, which may also be less firm than in younger age
  • The plateau phase is longer, as the cremaster muscle loses strength
  • The orgasm phase is shorter, and there is a smaller volume of seminal fluid
  • The penile volume decreases more quickly during the resolution phase 
  • The refractory period is extended

Changes in women in old age:

When it comes to women, the phases are similar, but the intensity is not the same.

  • During the excitement phase, the lubrication decreases
  • In the plateau phase, the elevation of the uterus decreases
  • In the orgasm phase there are contractions, but in less quantity and intensity. They can even become painful.
  • The resolution phase is longer than in young women
  • The ability to have multiple orgasms is reduced

You might be interested in: Does the Shape of the Vagina Influence Orgasm?

Treatment and prevention

Despite this, the factors we’ve mentioned don’t have to mean the end of sexual life in old age. Studies show that there is a decrease in the frequency of the exercise of sexual function with age. However, it’s also true that maintenance depends on good physical and mental health.

This is because, in some cases, chronic pathologies can be added. Furthermore, the consumption of some drugs affects the sexual behavior of the elderly. This is either because they can alter the hormonal system or for other reasons.

Currently, there are several treatments that can help improve the quality of sexual life in old age. You should also pursue healthy habits.

One of the treatments is sexual therapy for the elderly, for example. Also, the use of testosterone, injected or oral medications, vacuum tumescence devices, surgical treatments, and more.

A woman talking to her doctor.

Despite what many think, Doctor Llanes emphasizes that many of the sexual dysfunctions in old age are due to ignorance. There can also be feelings of disability, as well as false expectations.

Doctor Llanes also discusses the recommendations of Masters and Johnson. They state that there are three necessary steps to take in order to enjoy a full sexual life in old age:

  • Enjoy health
  • Appreciate sexuality
  • Have a partner

Following these recommendations, not only can you enjoy a full sexual life in old age, but also shatter the myth that sexuality ends with old age. The truth is, it ends only with death and is not reduced merely to intercourse.

  • Amor, sexualidad e inicio de nuevas relaciones en la vejez: percepción de tres grupos etarios. (2012). Psychologia. Avances de La Disciplina. https://doi.org/10.21500/19002386.1185
  • Herrera P., A. (2003). SEXUALIDAD EN LA VEJEZ: ¿MITO O REALIDAD? Revista Chilena de Obstetricia y Ginecología. https://doi.org/10.4067/s0717-75262003000200011
  • Loreto, C. (2006). La sexualidad en la vejez. Índice: Revista de Estadística y Sociedad.
  • Caridad, L. B. (2013). La sexualidad en el adulto mayor / Sexuality in the elderly. Revista Cubana de Enfermería VO – 29.
  • Orozco Mares, I., & Rodriguez Marquez, D. D. (2006). Prejuicios y actitudes hacia la sexualidad en la vejez. Psicologia y Ciencia Social.