The Older Man’s Guide to Satisfying Sex

Don’t let low libido and other problems ruin your sex life.

The Older Man’s Guide to Satisfying Sex

You may not have the sex drive you once had, but that doesn’t mean you can’t have a satisfying sex life. In fact, a 2015 UK survey of more than 7,000 people revealed that just over half of the men over 70 who responded were still sexually active, with a third of those having sex at least twice a month.

Falling testosterone levels and loss of libido are just some of the changes you’ll have to contend with as you get older. Erectile dysfunction, delayed ejaculation and changes to your penis, as well as changes in an older partner, can all contribute to a shifting sex life. Here’s what to look out for, and how to have satisfying sex at any age.

Erectile dysfunction
Erectile dysfunction (ED)—problems getting or maintaining an erection—is a common problem for older men, says Michael J. Belsante, MD, a urologist at Tristar Summit Medical Center Hermitage, Tennessee. “As men get older, rates of erectile dysfunction increase,” he says. Causes of ED can be physical or psychological. “The two go hand-in-hand,” Dr. Belsante says. “There could be psychogenic causes due to relationship stressors, anxiety or stress, but as men get older there’s also manifestations of physical problems.”

Belsante cites damage to small blood vessels due to diabetes or high blood pressure as common physical culprits in ED. Antidepressants and medication to lower blood pressure are two common classes of medication that can cause ED. Recreational drugs like alcohol, cocaine and heroin can, too. But physical and psychological causes become a feedback loop. “You get anxiety due to the physical causes of your ED, and that makes it even harder to perform,” says Belsante.

Other penis problems
One of the more common sexual problems for younger men is premature ejaculation—one study of 5,000 found that two-thirds of participants were younger than age 46. Older men tend to have the opposite problem. “Premature ejaculation can happen at any point, but it tends to be less of a problem in men as they get older. Delayed ejaculation is more of a complaint,” says Belsante. This could be due to low testosterone, blockages, nervous system problems or certain medications.

Another sexual condition that can pop up in later life is Peyronie’s disease, which is a curvature of the penis that makes it difficult to have sex. With Peyronie’s disease, scar tissue forms in the penis and make it curve or bend. It can lead to painful erections and make intercourse difficult or impossible. “It’s an inflammatory process that takes time to mature,” Belsante says, which is why it’s most often found in men over 40.

Consider your partner
You’re not the only one for whom sex is changing as you age. If your partner is around the same age as you, her body is also going through changes that will affect sex. “Women can have atrophy of their vagina and pain with intercourse, and that affects both partners,” says Belsante.

As men age, it may take longer for them to achieve an erection. Combined with what your partner may be experiencing, it might be a good idea to take it slow and spend plenty of time on foreplay. Sex may be, by necessity, different as you get older, but it can still be mind-blowing.

Medically reviewed in November 2018.

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