Achieving a healthy lifestyle as you age isn’t just about making sure you’re sleeping and eating right – it’s also about understanding your sexual appetite. Given the availability of resources and research, it's easier now than ever for people to learn about and experiment with sex. As we get older, though, how do our appetites and attitudes towards sex change?
To find the answer, we examined surveys that investigated British and American attitudes towards sex as they aged. Using this information, we were able to develop a clearer picture of what happens between the sheets when we grow older.
Engaging in Intercourse
When looking at U.K. and U.S. adults and how often they engaged in vaginal sex in the past year, we found that U.K. participants claimed to be much more sexually active than their neighbours across the pond.
In the U.K., over 80 percent of men and women aged 45 to 54 reported having vaginal intercourse in the past year. In the U.S., however, only 74 percent of m and 70 percent of women aged 40 to 49 admitted the same. In both countries, though, men and women reported a decline in their sexual activity as they grew older.
There are a number of reasons that can contribute to a decline in sexual activity over time. In men, lower levels of testosterone may lead to reduced libido. After the age of 30, most men begin to experience a reduction in testosterone, which can be brought on by a number of factors, such as stress, sleep deprivation, and depression, but also naturally declines as one gets older. Similarly, as women begin to approach menopause (typically around 50 years old), they may begin to experience a reduction in oestrogen and other hormones, which can also lead to reduced sexual desires, and also symptoms which can make sex uncomfortable
However, these chemical compositions aren’t posing much of a threat to some people in their golden years. A similar survey in the U.K. found that many respondents between the ages of 66 and 80 admitted to thinking about sex every week, some even pondering it daily.
Regarding cunnilingus, we found that participants in the U.K. generally engaged in oral sex more often than those in the U.S. even as they got older. Between the ages of 45 and 54, 71 percent of men and almost 63 percent of women in the U.K. reported performing or receiving oral sex in the past year.Among respondents between the ages of 65 and 74, over 30 percent of men and 19 percent of women said they engaged in oral sex.
For men who may be suffering from erectile dysfunction or women who find vaginal intercourse to be somewhat uncomfortable, oral sex can be a very satisfying alternative. Unfortunately, U.S. respondents seem to be less willing to participate. A slim 24 percent of men and 7 percent of women 70 or older reported performing oral sex in the past year.
Anxiety around sexual performance can be caused by a number of factors. Natural chemical imbalances that occur as we age can have a profound impact on our sex drive and can change the way we experience and respond to sexual intercourse.
Almost 24 percent of men aged 55 to 64 and 30 percent of men aged 65 to 74 reported difficulty getting or keeping an erection, while nearly 27 percent of women between the ages of 55 and 64 responded that they experienced an uncomfortably dry vagina during intercourse. It’s also worth noting that erectile dysfunction symptoms may be underreported in these surveys, as studies have found ED to affect 40% of men by age 40 - much higher than reported by survey respondents (http://www.clevelandclinicmeded.com/medicalpubs/diseasemanagement/endocrinology/erectile-dysfunction/).
However, these physical inconveniences don’t have to get in the way of comfortable and satisfying sex. Many safe and highly effective treatments are available for both erectile dysfunction and vaginal dryness, allowing for a fuller and more enjoyable sex life again.
While men were more likely to acknowledge issues with reaching climax too quickly, women were more likely to have issues even getting there. Over 16 percent of U.K. women aged 55 to 64 said they had difficulty reaching climax at all during intercourse.
These issues can clearly lead to a negative impact on one’s sexual adventures. The good news is that there are options for battling these downer moments. Switching up the kind of sex you have can be a healthy way to avoid these issues. Oral sex and manual stimulation can be an arousing alternative in addition to toys or role-play.
While you might think that sex becomes less important as you age, the data tell a different story. In the U.K., a relatively high percentage of men aged 45 to 74 reported they masturbated alone in the past month. While men were more likely to partake than women, both showed some preference towards masturbation.
Respondents in the U.S. showed less differential between men and women in their masturbation habits in the past year. Almost half of the men polled who were over 70 years old reported that they’d engaged in self-stimulation in the past year, as compared to women, where 33 percent claimed to have masturbated in the past year.
As we age, our overall frequency of sex might diminish, but it takes until we’re well into our 60s and beyond to see a drastic drop in activity. Even then, sex is still on most people’s mind – they might just approach it differently.
Superdrug Online Doctor offers advice and can provide consultations, treatments and advice to make sure you’re equipped to enjoy a healthy sex life at any age.
We gathered data from the Indiana National Sex Study and the Natsal-3 Studies to look at sexual habits of those over the age of 40 in the U.S. and the U.K. All percentages listed were linked to relations with the opposite sex; same-sex relations were not considered in this study.
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