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Senior Sex

Sexuality in Later Life

Senior sex facts

*Senior sex facts medically edited by: Charles Patrick Davis, MD, PhD

  • Normal aging causes physical changes in men and women that may affect their ability to have and enjoy sex.
  • Age related problems that may affect sex may include vaginal changes, erectile dysfunction, arthritis, chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, dementia, incontinence, stroke, depression, hysterectomy, mastectomy, prostatectomy, alcohol consumption, and several types of medications commonly used to treat seniors (blood pressure, antidepressants, diabetic medications and others).
  • Age does not protect people from sexually transmitted diseases.
  • Emotional problems may interfere with sex but for some individuals, aging can be beneficial emotionally.
  • Seniors can have an active, safe and fulfilling sex life; some suggestions are as follows - make your partner a high priority, try different positions and times to have sex and take time to understand each other's changes that occur with age – seek treatment with your doctor for problems that affect your sex life and discuss methods and medications that may need to be changed or tried to improve the sex experience.

Introduction to senior sex

Many people want and need to be close to others as they grow older. This includes the desire to continue an active, satisfying sex life. But, with aging, there may be changes that can cause problems.

What are normal changes with age?

Normal aging brings physical changes in both men and women. These changes sometimes affect the ability to have and enjoy sex. A woman may notice changes in her vagina. As a woman ages, her vagina can shorten and narrow. Her vaginal walls can become thinner and also a little stiffer. Most women will have less vaginal lubrication. These changes could affect sexual function and/or pleasure. Talk with your doctor about these problems.

As men get older, impotence (also called erectile dysfunction - ED) becomes more common. ED is the loss of ability to have and keep an erection for sexual intercourse. ED may cause a man to take longer to have an erection. His erection may not be as firm or as large as it used to be. The loss of erection after orgasm may happen more quickly, or it may take longer before another erection is possible. ED is not a problem if it happens every now and then, but if it occurs often, talk with your doctor.


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