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Sex — and sexual responses — evolve as people age through their 50s, 60s, 70s and beyond. That doesn’t mean intimate relationships must change for the worse. For some, it gets even better.
“Sex has no expiration date,” says Northern California sex educator Joan Price, who has written five books on sex for older adults. “The idea is to expand the idea of what good sex is. I know a lot of older adults who say they are having the best sex ever because they don’t narrowly define what sex is. There are so many options to choose from.”
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The sexual landscape we inhabit in later life can become tricky terrain due to age-related issues like vaginal dryness, erection challenges and a low libido. Medical conditions such as arthritis, a bad back and sore joints can also come into play.
But sexual wellness professionals say that for almost every problem, there is a solution — and that a fulfilling sex life can be lifelong. Here’s how.
Sex in your 50s: A critical decade
Sexual challenges such as painful intercourse and difficulty with erections begin to surface in your 50s, issues that if left unspoken and untended can alter the course of your sex life. “Sex is not over when challenges arise,” Price says. “This is the time to start speaking candidly and openly with your partner about your sexual needs and the changes that you’re experiencing,” she adds. If concerns and issues aren’t addressed, she notes, “it can get complicated, with relationship issues becoming clouded in silence.”
In their 50s, most men still feel vigorous, though they may notice that the quality of their erection isn’t as firm as it once was and testosterone, a critical hormone, is on the decline.
This age can also be a critical time for women, who on average begin menopause at 51. Vaginal dryness and a low libido frequently become issues — leading to what Price calls a “desire discrepancy” between partners that can throw sexual intimacy into peril.