Society doesn’t view sex and ageing in the best light. Most young people are even ready to say that people in their older age simply don’t have sex.
But this isn’t true. Studies show that both men and women want to have sex when they reach their older age and that many of them are successful in maintaining a healthy sex life in their senior years.
- The biology of ageing and sexuality
- The psychology of sex and ageing
- Importance of open communication in establishing intimacy in your older age
- Busting the myths around sex and ageing
- The takeaway
That said, exploring sexual pleasure and orgasms later in life isn’t the same as doing it in your 20s. That’s why today on Global Orgasm Day, we’re talking all things age and orgasm and we even had a chat with the seasoned sex coach, Winona Ofelia. Her insights add a special touch to our exploration of pleasure in later adulthood, uncovering the secrets to a fulfilling sexual journey in the later chapters of life.
So, let’s take a look at how age and orgasms are related and some of the ways you can explore your sexuality with your partner in your later years.
The biology of ageing and sexuality
There’s no denying that our bodies change as we age. Some of the things we may be able to do in our youth are impossible in our senior years. Many people also experience a change in their sex drive as they age. While this doesn’t mean you can’t have an active sex life, it does mean you have to make some changes in your approach.
But before that, it’s best if you understand some of the physical changes you may experience as you age.
Changes in hormone levels
The first big sexual change you will experience when you age is that your hormone levels will change. As we age, men will produce less testosterone, and women will produce less estrogen.
These hormones have a complex relationship with sex drive, as some people feel a lowered libido when these hormones drop, but that’s on a case-to-case basis. That said, some people experience a decreased drive or libido as these hormones drop, which is completely normal.
Sex educator and sex coach Winona Ofelia seconds this. She explains that “a decrease in the hormone testosterone can cause people with penises to have lower sexual desire with age, while people with vulvas, especially post-menopause can often struggle with less lubrication due to lower levels of estrogen.”
“We can work with, instead of struggling against our bodies as we age by adapting to our needs that come up. Remembering that the brain is above all else – the biggest constant sexual organ throughout our lives. Working with the brain and adapting to the needs of our bodies in order to enhance sexual desire. There are, of course, other things like taking care of our nutrition, making sure we get adequate sleep and getting enough physical exercise, (…), that can also help heighten our sexual desire as we age. It’s also great to remember that sexual desire can work just as much spontaneously as it can responsively to sexual stimuli – so incorporating both forms of desire into your sex life is a great starting point.” – Winona Ofelia
Physical responses to arousal
With the drop in estrogen, some women may have a harder time producing vaginal lubricant. On the flip side, some men experience erectile difficulty as they age, which are both natural occurrences that can be fixed. These changes are natural as people age, and there are ways to keep your sex life alive despite these changes, which is important to remember.
“Though hormonally age can create differences in how our bodies operate – there’s no reason why age should affect the frequency or intensity of the orgasms we feel. One of the great things about ageing is that we get to know our bodies better and alongside that, we get to know our own ways of achieving pleasure even better,” says Ofelia, who talks about this topic frequently due to “misconception when it comes to sex, that orgasm is at the pinnacle of sex – a sort of hierarchy in sex, if you will – which isn’t true”.
“We need to de-pedestalize orgasm and focus on pleasure. Orgasms are the bi-product which occurs when we are in tune with and enjoying our pleasure.” – Winona Ofelia
Ofelia also mentions that as we age, individuals with penises may encounter erectile challenges, including issues like venous leakage and breathwork techniques such as ‘breath of fire’ can enhance sensation. For those with vulvas, numbness and lubrication issues may arise, which can be alleviated by using sufficient lube. She also recommends pleasure mapping which offers a fresh perspective, as well as pelvic floor exercises or consulting a specialist. “Sometimes kegels can be a good addition – but it’s important to note that a lot of people actually have overly tense pelvic floor muscles – known as hypertonic pelvic floor – in which case kegels might not be the way forward.”
The psychology of sex and ageing
The changes to our sex drive and libido aren’t just physical. As we age, various psychological factors can come into play and affect our drive and arousal. Our bodies in our older years are very different from the ones in our younger years, and this difference is important to acknowledge when exploring sexual pleasure in your later years.
The importance of a healthy body image
When people age, their bodies undergo significant changes. Some people lose a lot of muscle mass and some skin tightness, which can hurt their body image and make it harder to experience arousal. This is why maintaining a healthy body image and learning to love your body is very important for those who want to maintain a healthy sex life when they get older. This can be hard with the different changes happening in your body, but it’s an effort you have to put in to achieve sexual satisfaction in your senior years.
Emotional intimacy as a priority
Our sexual needs definitely change as we age. This is why older couples must fully establish emotional intimacy as their top priority when exploring sexuality in their later years. Connecting with a person on an emotional level and establishing that intimacy makes it easier and more satisfying to explore sexual pleasure, even if your body and mind are going through major changes.
Importance of open communication in establishing intimacy in your older age
Since people’s views on sex and the way they experience it change in their older age, you have to be able to communicate with your partner openly. This allows you to discuss some of the topics that may be hard to bring up when you feel judged or if the conversation isn’t open. That way, you know each other’s desires, preferences, and boundaries, making it easier to explore the world of sexual pleasure.
Create a space for safe and open communication
The first thing to do when exploring intimacy when you get older is to create a space for open communication. You and your partner must be able to bring up different concerns and topics about sexuality without the fear of being judged. That way, you can work toward finding solutions and new ways to satisfy each other sexually.
An open channel of communication allows you to connect with each other in an intimate way that is more emotionally satisfying. Since emotional intimacy and a strong connection are important when exploring sexual relationships at this age, you need to ensure that open communication is easy with your partner.
“Working with the body, wherever it’s at, is key,” says Ofelia. “Get to know your current body as it is and work on taking away any shame associated with your ‘dysfunctions’. We often have a tendency to label disappointments during sex as ‘dysfunctions’ despite them being singular experiences. Normalise your experiences – for example, a flaccid penis has the same amount of nerve endings as an erect penis – so praise the soft cock just as much as the erect one! And don’t put so much pressure on performance.
“Your body is ever-changing – and how amazing is that, you get to discover new forms of pleasure, new fantasies, kinks and sensations all the time! And novelty can be a huge turn-on for a lot of people! Get out of the routine you’ve gotten used to – if you always end up having penetrative sex, maybe it’s time to focus on oral sex or give a tantric massage a go! Creating a yes/no/maybe list of all the sexual things you’d be curious about, maybe want to try or are a hard no-to – will help you get clear on what you can do to enjoy sex more – together or alone!” – Winona Ofelia
“Work with body love and body neutrality in relation to your sexual struggles and ageing – making sure to adapt to your needs depending on how your body has changed. There are also some great sex toys on the market now and you can use them to benefit your sexual needs at any age.
“Having healthy communication when it comes to sex is also a necessity in partnership. Stay open, stay curious and stay attuned to your partner(s). “
Busting the myths around sex and ageing
There are many things that people get wrong about sex and ageing. So, let’s take a look at some of these myths so you can get your facts straight:
Older adults lose interest in sex
This is simply not true. Numerous studies show that most adults in their older age still have a strong libido (though it may not be as strong as when they were younger) and wish to keep a healthy sex life. Both men and women maintain a strong interest in sex as they age, which you need to remember when trying to open up the conversation with your partner.
Sexual dysfunction is inevitable
Many older individuals experience sexual dysfunction when they age. Some women have a difficult time producing vaginal lubricant, while some people with penises have a hard time getting erect as they age. That said, this isn’t inevitable, and many people live their whole lives without experiencing these problems. Even if you do encounter these problems, there are numerous ways to get around these issues, whether it be through using certain medications or lubricants or making lifestyle changes.
Ofelia says: “Sexual dysfunction is often associated with both lifestyle and health factors – so make sure you put an emphasis on healthy nutrition, a good amount of sleep, not smoking or drinking too much and having an active lifestyle as you age. Supplements like ginger, ginseng, ginkgo and even cacao can also aid in sexual desire. Gentle exercise like yoga, doing pelvic floor practices and even breathwork can also help with blood flow to the genitals – and more blood flow to the genitals = more sensation = more pleasure. Physical exercise prior to sexual stimuli has also been proven to increase genital arousal!”
“Holistic tools are a great and simple way of creating more attunement to the body and working with sexual pleasure. A more intense form of breathing like circular mouth breathing (a form of breathing where you inhale deeply through the mouth into the lower belly and without stopping at the top/bottom of the breath exhaling all the way out – continuing the cycle for as little as 2-3 minutes and repeating 3x) can help you tune into more sensation in the genitals. You can also combine this with pelvic floor squeezing as you exhale to feel more sensation.” – Winona Ofelia
“Remembering that the brain is the biggest sex organ – if you’re open to it – you can incorporate erotica novels, audio erotica (like Dipsea or Quinn) or visual porn to help titillate the senses,” she says.
“Regardless of what you choose to do – remember that your pleasure is yours to explore how you wish and your body and sexual pleasure is worthy and deserving of care and attention at any age.”
Exploring sexual pleasure in your older age isn’t just possible – but it can be a lot of fun when you approach it right. If you and your partner wish to reignite your sex life while entering your senior years, you must establish an open channel of communication and understand some of the hurdles you may encounter in your journey. But once you do that, you can trust that it will be much easier for both of you to experience sexual satisfaction and establish a new type of intimacy.
If you struggle with any of the issues mentioned in this article, it might be a good indicator to see a sex coach. You can check out Winona Ofelia’s website to work 1:1 with her. For more sex and relationship content, visit our blog now.