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Taking You Longer to Get Turned On?

For aging men, too often the focus is mechanics, not motivation. Try these 6 ways to get excited

An old joke asks: "What's the one word a woman can count on to sexually arouse a man?"

The punchline: "Hello."

See also: Treating erectile dysfunction without the little blue pill.

The joke is apt for men under 40 — youngsters who feel horny much of the time and tend to get aroused quickly. (Remember them days?) But as we men age, arousal takes longer. It may even become problematic. So here are six ways to stay excited about the horizontal tango:

Senior Couple Flirting in Bed, Older Men- 6 Keys to Enhancing Erotic Arousal

Follow these tips to stay excited about lovemaking after 50. — Randy Faris/CORBIS

1. Understand why things have changed. Blame it on evolution: The biological mission of life is to reproduce life. Over the eons, humans evolved to take full advantage of their reproductive opportunities. That's why young men are hot to trot. After age 50 or so, however, the nervous system becomes less excitable, and erotic urgency cools. At a certain point, even once-randy billy goats may have this inconceivable thought: Gee, I don't want to — I'm not turned on.

Whereas women stop producing eggs at menopause, men can father children at any age. That doesn't make sex a slam dunk after 50, though; erections may become iffy, and arousal is no longer automatic. In short, it takes work. As a 66-year-old friend mentioned recently, "She wanted to, and I enjoy it with her, but I just couldn't work up to it."

2. Realize that erection drugs have no effect on arousal. In young men, arousal and erection are synonymous. After 50, by contrast, things change: An older man can want sex and feel aroused without getting an erection, or he may get an erection but not feel aroused.

This decoupling confounds many men (understandably!). Some seek relief through erection drugs, believing that if the mechanics are in place, the motive will be, too. They pop the pill, then feel betrayed when it doesn't make them feel turned on. Here's why: Erection medications simply boost blood flow into the penis. They have no effect on arousal, which is subjective. That's one reason why more than half of men who get an initial prescription for an erectile dysfunction drug never refill it.

3. Savor the build. Psychologically, there's a good reason to wrap a gift: The time it takes to unwrap it builds anticipation and adds zing to both the giving and the receiving. Looking forward to sex likewise heightens arousal. That's why sex therapists urge couples who have progressed a bit beyond the hot-and-heavy stage to make sex dates in advance: When older adults wait to feel spontaneously aroused, sex may not happen. (Here's one form of "gift-wrapping the present" that's almost certain to arouse an older man: Take your honey lingerie shopping.)

4. Be patient — with yourself and with her. Sex therapists have a saying: "What young men want to do all night takes older men all night to do." Reframe that truism just a bit, however, and you discover a boon to older sex: A perennial complaint of younger women has to do with young men who rush into genital play before the woman feels warmed up and receptive. An older man's slower pace of arousal dovetails nicely with what women prefer, enhancing erotic compatibility. So before either of you reaches for your partner's undercarriage, cuddle and kiss playfully: Use slow, sensual massage to touch each other all over, from scalp to toes. After 30 minutes or so, she's likely to feel sufficiently aroused to enjoy genital play. (And chances are good that you will, too.)

5. Embrace the new. What makes the early months of a love affair so passionate? Dopamine. This brain chemical, a neurotransmitter, spikes when people fall in love. But your dopamine levels return to normal after a year or so; this may make arousal problematic for an older man. To reclaim the ever-ready excitability of early romance, use novelty to boost your dopamine levels (and thus enhance arousal). This is why sex therapists urge couples to add new elements to their sex lives, such as making love in a new way, or at a different time, or in a different place. A romantic weekend getaway might present the perfect opportunity to achieve all three.

6. Tweak your fantasies. Sex is built on friction and fantasy. Most people are familiar with the friction, but some feel uncomfortable with fantasies, where everything's permitted and nothing's taboo — including acts you would never perform in real life. So if you're having arousal difficulties, let your imagination go wild.

One of the most common erotic fantasies is having sex with someone who is not your regular partner. Some women condemn such "mental unfaithfulness," but if visions of an old flame heat your blood, there's no harm in daydreaming. Many men — including older guys struggling with arousal — get turned on by pornography (men over 45 constitute 41 percent of the Internet porn audience). Again, no harm in that, as far as I'm concerned — so long as your viewing of X-rated material to get aroused doesn't grow compulsive.

Also of interest: How sex changes for men after 50.

Former Playboy adviser Michael Castleman answers your sex questions free of charge at GreatSexAfter40.com.

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Video Extra

Who says your sex life slows down as you get older? Dr. Pepper Schwartz explains why these may be the best years of your sexual life.
 

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