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Your Sex Life at 50+

What to expect for intimacy in your 50s

Illustration showing what to expect regarding your sex life at your 50s

Peter Arkle

Compared with others in poor or so-so health, men and women who gave their overall physical well-being high marks were up to 80 percent more likely to be interested in sex.

The good news in your 50s:  For many couples, the empty nest equals sex time! One in 3 people in their 50s get jiggy with it at least once a week. 

 Reality check in your 50s: Things might go a little slower than they used to. But, hey, the romance and happiness should still be there. 

  • You’re having lots of fun between the sheets … Up to 91 percent of men and 86 percent of women who are in their 50s are sexually active, according to a recent national study. And up to 80 percent of you say these intimate encounters are good, both emotionally and physically.   
  • … especially if you’ve been taking care of yourself. Compared with others in poor or so-so health, men and women who gave their overall physical well-being high marks were up to 80 percent more likely to be interested in sex, 60 percent more likely to have sex one or more times a week and 70 percent more likely to have good sex and more likely to keep enjoying physical intimacy as they move into their 60s and 70s.  
  • You may need to take longer breaks between lovemaking … In college, a man’s refractory period (the time he needs between orgasms) can be as short as three to five minutes. By his 50s, it could be 10 to 12 hours. 
  • … and most men can still perform just fine … About 1 in 3 men between 50 and 64 experience erectile dysfunction, but more than half never develop it. The biggest risk to potency may be prostate problems: Men with prostate cancer are 10 to 15 times more likely to experience sexual dysfunction. In nearly all cases, the sexual difficulties stem from the treatment, rather than from the cancer itself.  
  • … but most women will need a helping hand. “Vaginal atrophy” is the term for thinning, drying and inflammation of the vaginal walls after menopause, caused by a reduction in estrogen. Up to 39 percent of women experience vaginal dryness a year after menopause. Your doctor may suggest specific treatments, such as estrogen cream or, perhaps, an oral medication, to increase libido.

Learn what to expect for your health and wellness in your 50s, 60s and 70s in this series from AARP The Magazine. 

  • You have 220 Facebook friends. Still, you are part of possibly the loneliest generation. Juggling a job, a family, a home and aging parents doesn’t leave much time for a social life — which may explain why 41 percent of people in their 50s said in a survey that they were lonely. It’s a good reason to pick up the phone and reconnect. Strong friendships have as big an impact on your health as quitting smoking or exercising regularly (though, yes, you should do those things, too).   
  • You might be shacking up. One in 25 people over 50 were cohabiting with a romantic partner outside of marriage in 2016, a 75 percent increase from 2007 — and the biggest jump of any age group, according to the Pew Research Center. In fact, 27 percent of cohabiting adults are 50 or older; many are divorced or widowed, but 1 in 4 have never been married. This trend could be good for your health, counteracting the isolation that can lead to future health risks.
  • You value your spouse, and marital happiness is reaching its peak. Ninety-six percent of married couples in their 50s said they were “very happy” or “pretty happy” with their relationship, a national survey showed. That’s great news for both of you. Couples become biologically similar with age, sharing habits and outlooks that can affect heart health, diabetes risk and even your odds for surviving cancer. One note, however: Although just being married boosts a man’s health, it takes a good relationship to improve a woman’s.  
  • And while more of your peers are getting divorced — rates of divorce after age 50 have doubled in the U.S. since the 1990s, while rates for younger couples are falling — that’s not necessarily bad for a woman’s health. Newly divorced postmenopausal women lost pounds and inches, compared with married and already single postmenopausal women, a recent University of Arizona study found. 

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