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by Dr. Laura Berman, AARP, August 2008
En español | Dr. Laura Berman answers 10 questions on making love and sex better than ever.
1. What are the most common sexual-dysfunction complaints among people 57–64 years old?
These generally include a decrease in libido or sexual response. As we age, our bodies and our hormones change, including our genital function and orgasm quality. For men, this sometimes means erectile dysfunction, and for women, this might mean a decrease in genital sensation and lubrication.
2. Why do you think there are so many sexual-dysfunction complaints in this group? How do they stack up relative to people ages 50–56 and 65–70?
There are similar complaints throughout these age groups. Most of the concerns are easily treated, depending on the individual's willingness to address the issues.
3. How do sexual problems typically affect relationships?
Sex can affect the level of intimacy, affection, and enjoyment people have in their relationships. Lack of sex can lead to lack of emotional intimacy. For men, sex feeds intimacy, so the more sex they have with their partner, the more likely they will want to cuddle, use pet names, etc. However, for women the opposite is true—the more they are emotionally tended to, the more likely they will want to be sexual. So making sure both intimacy and sex are in place is an important part of a relationship.
4. Who's more likely to initiate action on sexual problems, men or women? And what's the usual course of action?
Women tend to be a little more willing to discuss their problems with a doctor or therapist, as men often fear that problems in the bedroom affect the perception of their manliness. But once men agree to discuss the matter, they can be just as open and proactive as women!
5. Among people who have healthy sexual relationships as they get older, what's working for them that isn't working for others with problems?
One, they probably have open communication with their partner in which they can talk about what's working and what’s not working. Sharing feedback is important. They also probably work hard to keep their sex life exciting, by taking romantic trips, wearing sexy lingerie, trying out erotica. Just stating they're committed to a healthy sex life is the first and most important step! Diet and exercise also play an important part, as a healthy body fosters a healthy sex life, and an unhealthy body fosters an unhealthy one.
6. Does better sex really fend off illness and increase longevity? How so?
Sex has been shown to promote better sleep habits, less stress, more happiness, etc. Sex is a healthy bodily function. Our bodies thrive on the chemicals released during orgasm, so a healthy sex life is indeed part of a healthy body.
7. Does good sex also relieve stress, the way people say it does?
Yes it does! Orgasms release feel-good chemicals like oxytocin, which decrease stress and increase positive feelings.
8. Could you summarize the main sex-language difference between men and women in a few words?
Men tend to be more in tune with the physical (how it felt) whereas women are more in tune with the emotional (whether they felt loved, appreciated, desired during the act).
9. What is the biggest challenge to great sex among older couples?
Making it a priority! Too often older people think that great sex is no longer possible . . . but it is! People can have great sex lives no matter what their ages, as long as they are willing to commit to making it important in their lives.
10. What aspect of older couples' relationships could make sex better than when they were younger?
The level of comfort and self-acceptance people have when they are older could definitely make sex better than for younger people. Not to mention, older people have picked up tons of tips and tricks over the years, which correspond to great sex!
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