Get the Real Scoop on Senior Men and Sex

What’s sex really like for men when they reach a certain age? Is it all sitting in side-by-side bathtubs, holding hands with their partner as the sun sets on a beach? Well, probably not – but you probably already know that if you’re an older man feeling the affects of time on your sex life. So what is really going on in the sex lives of senior men, what should they expect as they age, and what can they do to improve things in the bedroom?

Are Older Men Still Interested – and Are They Getting Any?

Gone are the days of everyone just assuming that older people are not getting any sex, and that they’re also completely uninterested in it. We’ve finally come to realize that there is no age limit on sexuality, and that older people can have great sex lives, which is a very, very good thing. According to Erica Solway, co-director of the National Poll On Healthy Aging by the University of Michigan, “Sexual health among older adults doesn’t get much attention but is linked closely to quality of life, health, and well-being.”

So what do older men think about sex, and what do their sex lives look like? Before we get to the sexual problems that might change their sex lives, let’s look at what the above poll says about what’s going on in senior men’s sex lives. According to the poll, which asked adults ages 65-80 about relationship status, interest in sex, and level of sexual activity:older couple in bed

  • 50% of men reported being extremely or very interested in sex, compared to 12% of women
  • 51% of men were sexually active, compared with 31% of women

That a full half of older men in this survey are both interested in sex and having it, definitely proves that, according to the poll, “While sex is an integral part of the lives of many older adults, this topic remains understudied and infrequently discussed.” And that means that, while there are a lot of older men out there with a desire for sex, they might also be frustrated by changes to their sexual health, and unsure what to do about it. So what changes as men get older, and why?

Why Things Might Not Be Working Like They Used To

There’s no denying that our bodies change in, well, a whole lot of ways as we age. From aches and pains to even loss of taste, things can just start to feel frustratingly different. And the same goes for sexuality. Older women have their own set of challenges when it comse to sex, but so do men. For example, two very enlightening Australian studies found that men face a lot of sexual challenges as they age. One found that, among over 3,000 older men, the following sexual issues were problems that were upsetting for the participants:

  • Lack of interest: 48% (24% for partnered participants)
  • Erectile dysfunction (ED) 49% (66% for partnered participants)
  • Premature ejaculation 15% (26% for partnered participants)
  • Difficulty ejaculating 39% (43% for partnered participants)
  • Performance anxiety 20% (37% for partnered participants)
  • Low testosterone 7%

The other study found that 

  • Low desire was a major problem, reported by 89% of single older men, and 33% of those with partners
  • ED was a major problem, reported by 91% of the men (mild-to-moderate ED, 54%, moderate-to-severe ED, 37%)

So what’s going on down there? Why aren’t things working like they used to? Well, while we usually just chalk it up to aging, in some cases, there are concrete, physical risk factors for low libido and erectile problems. And, no, it’s not usually low testosterone, whatever those commercials try to tell us! The studies found that the risk factors for low libido included anxiety, depression, insomnia, a sedentary lifestyle, and drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day.

The risk factors for ED included even more physical things, and were not generally psychological, which might surprise some people – yes, changes to your erection as you age are very real, and aren’t all in your head. Some of the main risk factors in these studies included:

anxiety, depression, diabetes, insomnia, cancer, smoking, obesity (especially potbelly), taking high blood pressure medication, drinking more than two alcoholic drinks a day, and obstructive sleep apnea (OSA).

Sounds a little depressing, right? So what are men doing about it? And are there ways to put the oomph back into your sex life?

Are Older Men Seeking, uh, Help?

Let’s go back to the beginning of this article, and that image of an older couple sitting side-by-side in bathtubs on the beach. Ridiculous, right? Well, that image of happy, satisfied sexuality is what medications for erectile dysfunction are trying to promote, but are older men buying it, literally? 

It might feel like those drugs are everywhere, and every older man is popping them to get things popping in the bedroom, but the numbers just don’t support that. Not only that, but when men do try them, they’re not necessarily blown away by them. Check out these stats:blue pill

  • No more than 20% of men over 60 have tried erection medication, let alone become regular users.
  • The effectiveness of these drugs might actually be exaggerated, especially for men over 60. In pre-approval trials, pharmaceutical companies claimed that around 70% of users would be able to get erections sufficient for intercourse. But several recent studies conclude it’s closer to 50%, with effectiveness declining with age, especially in those over 60.
  • The drugs improve blood flow into the penis but do nothing for libido and arousal, which become increasingly problematic for men over 65.
  • ED drugs seem to have more side effects than they were supposed to: post-approval studies have documented persistent annoying side effects in around 40% of users. Side effects increase with the dosage, and since most men over 65 must take high doses, it’s not a surprise that older men aren’t all that jazzed about these drugs. In fact, only around half of all men refill their prescriptions, and only a minority of elder men.

Ok, so maybe drugs aren’t necessarily the answer for a lot of older men, whether it’s ED medications or those testosterone boosting supplements. But maybe that’s ok. Yes, your body is changing, and maybe your penis just isn’t cooperating like it used to, even if you’re following all the “rules” and trying to delay sexual issues with a healthy lifestyle. Buuuuut maybe that just means you need to change, too. You might need to change the way you think about sex as you age, knowing that the penis-in-vagina sex that seemed like the end all be all in your youth is not necessarily what it’s all about these days.

What You Can Do to Spice Things Up

Remember the sex of your youth? There’s no denying it was probably pretty fun, right? But then look at it this way: did you ever feel like there was a mismatch with your partner? You were so hot to trot that things went pretty fast, and she was probably just warming up by the time you were done. Now things are different. You might need more time, and you can both slow down and really enjoy your erotic time together (especially since you probably have more time now!). 

So what are some ways you can make sex better now that you’re older? Consider the following:

  • Focus on the mental side – Older men go through ups and downs when it comes to desire, so if you’re in a slump try focusing on the mental side of sex. Talk about fantasies, memories that turn you on, and other erotic thoughts. This can help your mind and body get back in sexual sync.
  • Embrace “outercourse” – Remember what your sex life was like when your partner was new to you, or when you were young and were not always having vaginal intercourse? You could probably have spent days in bed exploring your partner’s body – so get back to that! You’ve got the time now, so instead of fretting over difficulties with penis-vagina sex, slow down and make sex more about leisurely, playful, whole-body touch: kissing, cuddling, mutual total-body massage, genital hand massage, oral sex, and sex toys (with plenty of lubricant).
  • Bring the romance back – Most couples need some sense of excitement and novelty to be both mentally and physically stimulated. Try some date nights where you try something new together, or go away for a sexy spontaneous weekend to reconnect.
  • Know what you’re capable of – Worried that you’re doomed to never having mind-blowing orgasms again because things have gotten so unreliable downstairs? It’s not true! Men don’t actually need to get a full erection to have an amazing orgasm. Even if you’re penis is semi-hard (or even flaccid), with enough attention, like fellatio and penile massage (and an erotic setting doesn’t hurt), you can still make the earth move.older man with doctor
  • Talk to your doctor – According to the poll we looked at, a lot of older adults are actually willing to talk to their doctors about their sexual concerns. Don’t be afraid to do just that, especially if you think your erectile issues could be related to something physical. 

Sex is just one of those things that is endlessly interesting to humans – but it can be endlessly frustrating when things aren’t working as they used to. But just because things are changing doesn’t mean that this chapter of your life is over. Talk to your partner, talk to your doctor, and, hey, even talk to yourself, because sometimes it’s a matter of changing your perspective. If you’re still interested in sex, know that you can still have a fulfilling sex life at any age. Let us know what you think!

Co-written by Joanna Bowling

Facts About Men’s Health That Might Surprise You

Ok, guys, it’s time we had a talk. Being the “strong, silent type” might be ok in some scenarios, but it’s just not working out when it comes to your health. For some reason, whether it’s because of cultural expectations of men or because men feel like they just don’t have the time, guys aren’t talking about or taking care of their well being as much as they should. In fact, men are 24% less likely than are women to have visited a doctor in the past year, according to the U.S. Department Of Health & Human Services, and studies show that 40% of men only go to the doctor when they think they have a serious medical issue. That means more than half of men aren’t getting regular checkups! Not only that, but more than 50% say their health is not something they talk about. So, since June is Men’s Health Month, we’re going to do the talking for you, and highlight the importance of looking after yourself with these eye-opening facts about men’s health.

Heart Disease Is the Number 1 Killer of Both Men and Women But…

drawing of a human heart with a red circle around it
Fact: Heart disease causes 1 out of every 4 deaths in men.

Yes, we’re now much more open about the fact that heart disease kills just as many women as it does men; in fact, it’s the leading cause of death for both sexes. But it’s still important to know that heart disease causes 1 out of every 4 deaths in men, as well as to know that men often develop heart disease 10-15 years earlier than do women, and are more likely to die of it at a younger age. Other conditions that lead to heart disease like high cholesterol, high blood pressure and diabetes are also more common among men. The average age for men for a first heart attack is just 66, so start thinking about your heart health now! That includes eating right and getting enough exercise: after all, if you’re a man with a waist measurement over 37 inches, your risk of heart disease (and diabetes) increases dramatically!

Men Need Their Beauty Sleep, Too

Getting enough sleep is not really about maintaining your looks – it has more to do with the above statistics about men’s tendency to deadly heart conditions. It turns out that men who sleep 7-8 hours a night are around 60% less less likely to have a fatal heart attack than those who sleep 5 hours or less, so turn off your phone and hit the hay!

Not Talking About Men’s Mental Health Can Be Deadly

Again, thinking you have to be the “strong, silent type” isn’t good for anyone’s health – especially not your mental health. We might brush it off as just a stereotype that men have a difficult time discussing their feelings, but this is actually a phenomenon that has been well documented by psychologists. So, unfortunately it seems that men are suffering in silence: the American Psychological Association reports that 30.6% of men (that we know of) have suffered from depression in their lifetime. And not only are men less likely to be treated for mental health issues, they are 3 times more likely that women to die by suicide. It’s time to end the stigma and speak up. black silhouette of a head with white puzzle pieces in it and the black puzzle pieces next to the silhouetteIn addition to talking about mental health, there’s something else men can do to help keep themselves fit in both mind and body: studies show that inactive men are 60% more likely to suffer from depression, so get in your daily dose of exercise. That’s not to say you shouldn’t seek help for any symptoms of depression or other mental health issues, but getting active is always a good idea!

Men Die Younger, But It Doesn’t Have to Be That Way!

Most people have heard the stats by now: on average, men die about 5 years younger than women (cue all the bad jokes). But you know what? It doesn’t have to be that way: men actually have much more of a say in their health than they might think. Studies show that only 30% of a man’s overall health is determined by his genetics, and 70% is controllable through lifestyle. 

For example, in addition to reducing your waist size and getting enough sleep, as mentioned above, choosing to climb 50 stairs or walk 5 city blocks a day could lower your risk of heart attack by 25%. Or, think about your alcohol intake: drinking more than 10 drinks a week almost doubles your risk of type 2 diabetes. We’ll say it again, because we can’t emphasize it enough: eating right and getting enough exercise can make all the difference in your health! And, if you’re not sure where to start, follow the World Health Organization’s guidelines for exercise (75-150 minutes/week of vigorous activity or 150-300 minutes of moderate activity) and know that getting your 5-7 servings of fruit and veggies is as simple as 1 apple, half an avocado, 1 stalk of celery, half a grapefruit, 5 pieces of broccoli.

The Risk of Prostate Cancer is Real

blue ribbon for prostate cancer
Fact: 1 in 8 men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime.

Cancer is the second leading cause of death among men, and, just as there are some cancers specific to women, there are cancers specific to men – and one is extremely common. 230,000 men are diagnosed with prostate cancer every year, making it the most common cancer among men; in fact, 1 in 8 men will develop prostate cancer in their lifetime, which is the same risk that women run for breast cancer. On the bright side, this type of cancer tends to grow slowly, so you have a good chance of catching it early. But that doesn’t mean you should wait to talk to your doctor about testing. Do it! Now!

Erectile Dysfunction Is More Common, and Could Be More Problematic, Than You Might Think

If you think erectile dysfunction (ED) only happens to older men, think again. Approximately 30 million men in the U.S. experience ED, and 52% of men between the ages of 40 and 70 suffer from some form of ED. The condition can be caused by multiple factors, including stress, drug or alcohol use, psychological factors, or smoking, but it can also be a sign of underlying health issues. According to Dr. Judson Brandeis, “Heart disease, high blood pressure and high blood sugar can all cause ED. Finding and treating the cause(s) of your ED can help your overall health and wellbeing.”

When it comes down to it, not speaking out about men’s health isn’t good for anyone, especially since there are so many ways that men can improve their quality of life, both physically and mentally. Some studies show that the average man lives 9 years of their life in poor health, simply because of lifestyle choices and easily preventable issues. But now that you know the real facts about men’s health, you can do something about it! So get out there, spread the word, and get healthy this month, and every month!