Sex and Aging: Talking About Sex

Judging by magazines and TV, doesn’t it seem that only young people have sex? Well, you know better! As you grow older, your sex life may change. But that doesn’t mean it ends.

Older man and woman in bed together.

Why Talk About Sex?

Talking to your partner can improve your relationship and your sex life. And talking to your health care provider is the only way to get treatment for medical problems that may affect your sex life. Talking about sex may feel awkward. But you can do it. Try writing down questions or concerns you have. This can help you get a discussion started. You’ll be glad you did!

Your Health Can Affect Your Sex Life

Age can sometimes bring health problems. And conditions such as heart disease, diabetes, menopause, depression, arthritis, and high blood pressure can cause changes that affect your sex life. Certain medications can affect sex, too. Be open and honest with your health care provider about any problems you’re having. Your health care provider may be able to help if you:

  • Have pain during sex.

  • Lack of lubrication. 

  • Aren’t able to have an erection.

  • Aren’t able to have an orgasm.

  • Have developed a sexual problem after starting to take a new medication.

  • Have a physical problem that prevents you from enjoying sex.

  • Lack of sexual desire.

Many potential treatments are available for these medical causes. These include lubricants or estrogen for vaginal dryness, the most common cause of sexual problems in older women. Other options are medications for erectile dysfunction, the most common cause in men. Medications or counseling can also help with lack of sexual desire or other concerns about sex. 

Talking to Your Partner

If you have a concern about your sex life, it affects your partner, too. So you need to talk about it. Just getting a problem out in the open can go a long way toward solving it. What you may want to talk about:

  • What you do and don’t enjoy.

  • How to work around a physical problem.

  • Ways to be intimate other than intercourse.

  • Whether to seek medical care for a problem.

  • How condoms can protect you and your partner from STDs.

Getting Back into the Dating Game?

It's not uncommon these days for older adults to find themselves single again. If the last time you were single was a while ago, you may wonder if the rules have changed. It's true that some things have changed. When you were young, you may not have thought much about sexually transmitted diseases (STDs), including HIV/AIDS. These days a sexually active person needs to learn about STDs, and know how to avoid getting them. This includes using a condom if you have more than 1 sexual partner. But some things haven't changed. As always, you decide what you will and won't do. This includes deciding whether to have sex and if so, under what conditions.