Sex as you get older

Your sex life might change as you get older, but that doesn't mean it has to be any less fun.  

According to a survey by Saga (an online social community for the over-50s), 65% of over-50s are sexually active, with 46% claiming to have sex once a week. And 85% said that sex is less pressurised than when they were younger, proving that sex can feel better with age.

And that's not the only good news. Many postmenopausal women have quicker arousal, possibly linked to the reduced fear of pregnancy, according to The Sexual Advice Association.

Sexual desires and activity aren’t static. They change throughout life for lots of reasons, such as having children, coming to terms with sexual orientation, or physical or mental illness. Growing older can also have an affect on sex, but it's important to realise that this is normal.

“Enjoying sex as we get older means recognising how the ageing process can affect the body and working around that,” says Denise Knowles, psychosexual therapist at relationship charity Relate. “It’s also about attitude. A lot of older people are reluctant to talk about sex with each other because it’s something they didn’t do when they were younger. But if you can talk about it, and accept your needs are changing and adapt to that, you can still have a fulfilling relationship.”

New relationships

Starting a new relationship later in life can be daunting but exciting as well.

Many people who have lost a long-term partner feel guilty about getting close to someone else and starting a sexual relationship. This can affect their ability to have sex. Talking about these feelings with the new partner, a therapist, or both, can help to address this.

The rise in divorce rates means that more people are single and dating. “I see social change,” says Denise. “Nowadays, women in their 50s, 60s and 70s don't think of themselves as old. They're glamorous, vibrant and feel good about their bodies.”

Safer sex

A sexually active woman who wants to avoid pregnancy needs to use contraception until the menopause, (that is, until she has not had a period or bleeding for two years if under 50, and for one year if she's over 50).

All age groups can get, and pass on, sexually transmitted infections (STIs), including herpes, chlamydia and HIV. Condoms help to protect against STIs, so talk to your new partner about using them.

Find out more about male condoms and female condoms

Sex over 60

Sex doesn’t stop when you’re 60. A sexual psychotherapist talks about sexual relationships once you’re in your 60s, how the body changes and why sex can be better than ever.

Media last reviewed: 16/03/2013

Next review due: 16/03/2015

Page last reviewed: 05/04/2012

Next review due: 05/04/2014

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The 1 comments posted are personal views. Any information they give has not been checked and may not be accurate.

Mary Fisher said on 20 February 2012

We're in our mid seventies and my husband has had a radical prostatectomy.
We've made love, passionately and very frequently, since we met when we were nineteen. We had five children in seven years, then we paid for a vasectomy (in those days it was 25 gns) but it was worth it.
Lovemaking has changed over the decades but has hardly lessened, in fact occasionally we make love within hours of the last time.
Has it improved? I can't say - i can't remember how we were in our twenties, thirties or forties. I know that making love is wonderful, always new and fresh, a surprise. My reactions are certainly different now that he has learned more about how to stimulate me, I had to get used to his 'dry orgasms' but in a way that's good - less inconvenient.
The injections, Cialis and vacuum pump we were prescribed aren't used any more, they're not necessary. He's the best lover I've ever had. And I certainly don't want any other.
If he dies before me I'll be very unhappy on many levels, not least because I'll miss his beautiful (to me) body.
What I don't like is referring to love making as 'sex'. Sex is something casual, it happens between people who hardly know each other, even strangers. One night stands seem to be expected from first dates. My husband and I don't have sex, we make love, in many ways. I care for him, he cares for me, that's also love. It's not sex.

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