Dating isn't just for young people anymore, but what about sex and the older man? Can a man of a certain age still please a woman? Do older men have the same interests and desires they did when they were younger?
Cultural Aspects of Sex and Aging
It might be surprising to younger folks, but older adults can still enjoy a full and exciting sexual life. In fact, older men and women are often more comfortable with their bodies and more knowledgeable about what a partner might enjoy. And the confidence that comes with aging can be very sexy.There are some inevitable changes that accompany aging. Joints may not work as well. Stamina might not be what it was. And libido does tend to decline with age. But that doesn't mean sex is no longer an option. According to one study, more than half of people in their 70's still have sex once a week. That's more than many younger couples!
Sex and the Older Man: Physical Changes
Sex is a little different for older men than for younger ones. Physical changes mean the experience may feel less urgent. Several other changes are common:
- It may take more stimulation to get an erection.
- The erect penis may not be as hard.
- It may take longer to reach orgasm.
- There may be a smaller amount of semen.
- Semen may "leak" rather than being ejaculated.
- The refractory period (the time needed after orgasm, before another erection can occur) may be longer.
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is a problem for many older men. ED is often caused by clogging or tightening of the blood vessels leading to the penis, which in turn leads to poor functioning of the erectile tissue. It can also be caused by nerve damage. As many as half of American men aged 40 to 70 have had some degree of erectile difficulty. About 10% have complete ED. These men cannot get or maintain an erection at all. The likelihood of developing ED increases with age.
Risk factors for ED are more common in older men. Certain medications, including some blood pressure medicines, can also contribute to ED. Risk factors include:
- High blood pressure
- Heart disease
- High cholesterol
- Vascular disease
- Surgery for prostate cancer
Treatment for ED
Not all cases of ED can be treated. However, drugs like sildenafil (brand name Viagra), tadalafil (Cialis), and vardenafil (Levitra) have made a real difference for sex and the older man. These drugs increase the amount of nitrous oxide in the penile tissue. Nitrous oxide is important for the proper function of smooth muscle in the penis, which helps create an erection. A doctor can help determine if one of these medicines can help. Certain heart medications interact with these drugs and they can have serious side effects, so it's important to have a doctor's advice before trying them.
Not Just Sex
To a lot of people, "sex" always means sexual intercourse. For many older couples, though, sex is a much broader concept. As bodies age and disabilities become a reality, sexual intercourse may no longer be an option. Arthritis and other illnesses may make intercourse uncomfortable or even impossible.
Older couples who can't have intercourse, or who choose not to, have many other options. Just touching and holding each other can help two people feel close. A healthy sex life can include giving pleasure in many ways: using words, kissing, erotic touch, oral sex, even sex toys.
Old Dogs, New Tricks
Older men who are new to the dating scene-recently divorced, perhaps, or widowed-may need to readjust to modern sexual styles. Having one partner for a lifetime can mean great sex, but it can also mean falling into habits that might not work for someone else. It can be an unpleasant surprise when favorite ways of touching, of kissing, even of initiating sex fail to strike any sparks. Many older men need to re-learn how to be with a new partner. Luckily, the learning curve can be a lot of fun.
Dating an older man requires being sensitive to his sexual history. These days, women expect to get as much pleasure as men do from sex and the older man might need a while to adjust to that idea. Sexual aggressiveness can be off-putting to an older gentleman who hasn't dated in decades. On the other hand, it might be a delight to a man whose wife was overly demure… or to a man who had a deeply sexual marriage, and misses it.