Your ever-advancing life cycle will always trigger changes to your physiological health, state of mind, cognitive performance, beliefs, and opinions. There’s no way around it—the person that you were at the age of 25 is not exactly the same person you’ve become when you cross over into middle age and move into your elderly years.
Article at a Glance
Sexuality As You Age
- It’s normal for sexual desire and activity to change as you age
- But many people continue to maintain a healthy sex life into their later years
- Certain nutrients and lifestyle changes can benefit your twilight sex life
Sexual Desire & Intimacy
- Older adults tend to view sex differently than younger adults
- With people living longer than ever, older adults are engaging in more sex
- Some factors can contribute to a decline in sex as you age
- Older men and women stop having sex for different reasons
Sexuality In Men
- Low testosterone is a major contributor to a decrease in sexual activity in men
- Prostate trouble is also a contributor, and is one of the causations of erectile dysfunction
- Nutrients deemed helpful in men’s sexual activity include vitamin D, magnesium, zinc, saw palmetto, Pycnogenol, l-arginine, and Tongkat Ali
Sexuality in Women
- Sexuality in older women is viewed as more taboo than sexuality in older men
- Sexual dysfunction in women is tied to low estrogen levels, but also low testosterone levels
- Evening Primrose Oil could help with sexual desire in women, as might magnesium and zinc
The arrival of your later years also sparks a shift in your sexual desire and activity. But while it’s easy to buy into the stereotype that older people simply don’t have sex, the fact of the matter is that many people maintain healthy sexual activity even into what would be considered their senior years. Sure, the frequency of your sexual intimacy might change—as might your attitude toward or interest in sex—but that doesn’t mean physical satisfaction in your relationships needs to completely cease. In fact, intercourse later in life can add another layer to the affection, security, commitment, and fulfillment you feel with your partner.
It all hinges on your overall health—that is, whether or not you are healthy enough for sexual activity, and if you support your sexual function with a nutritional regimen that’s beneficial to your performance in bed.
Sexual Desire & Intimacy For Older Men & Women
While sex can be a driving force in the majority of our lives, things tend to change as we age—despite the fact that we are never too old to revel in a happy and healthy sex life. And even though sex is a big part of life, many people are relatively shocked to learn that people actually enjoy sex after their 50s and 60s. In truth, older adults often view sexuality as a general affirmation of life, renewal of old romances, loyalty, passion, affection, and admiration.
And with people in general living longer, it stands to reason that sex in the silver years is becoming more common than ever. However, a collection of factors could potentially contribute to a decline in sexual activity as you age—these factors might include depression, medical disorders, natural physiological changes that come with age, disability, years of poor nutrition, alcohol or drug abuse, and the death of a partner.
Of course, biological gender also plays a role in the sexual activity of an individual. For example, a study by the Indian Journal of Psychiatry demonstrated that 43 percent of women reported that their sexuality was affected by increasing age, while 30 percent of men cited age as a factor. On the flip side, only 13 percent of women said that deteriorating health was a factor in a slowing of sexual desire, compared to more than 56 percent for men. What’s more, the same study showed that the loss of a partner negatively affected 20 percent of women, but barely more than 3 percent of men.
Sexual Activity In Men
There are also more obvious differences in how or why sexual activity decreases for men and women as they age. For men, testosterone levels tend to decline as they age, resulting in low-T. According to studies, incidents of low-T in men increased to about 20 percent of men over 60, 30 percent of men over 70, and 50 percent for men over 80—and low-t could very well be a culprit in the loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, and other mental and physical conditions that could contribute to a loss of sexual desire.
Prostate trouble could also be a factor causing sexual dysfunction in men. A man’s prostate continues to grow as he gets older, and this could potentially bring about common sexual side effects like erectile dysfunction, reduced sexual satisfaction, trouble maintaining an erection, and a decreased libido. Erectile dysfunction is likely the most commonly known of the sexual dysfunctions related to men, and this condition can be caused by more than merely prostate health, with other influences being heart disease, high blood pressure, high cholesterol, obesity, low-T, smoking, alcoholism, and more.
With these causes in mind, it’s important to consider some potential nutritional solutions specifically geared toward men of a certain age. A previous blog on men’s health revealed an array of vitamins, minerals, and other nutritional elements that could directly improve many of the health concerns linked to decreased sexual activity.
One of those nutrients is the versatile vitamin D. Studies show that a deficiency in the sunshine vitamin could potentially be linked to low-T, while the vitamin itself has been known to support heart health. The same goes for magnesium, which has demonstrated the ability to address low-T levels in men and has been associated with certain cardiovascular conditions. And another mineral, zinc, has been linked to higher testosterone levels in men young and old.
Further, saw palmetto, a type of palm, has shown efficacy in supporting prostate health, while Pycnogenol, a pine bark extract, has been studied as a potential benefit to circulation—and this could improve both heart health and erectile performance. Then there’s Pycnogenol’s efficacy when administered with L-arginine, an amino acid your body needs to function properly. One study showed a significant improvement in sexual function in men with low quality erections when Pycnogenol and L-arginine were combined to maintain normal blood flow.
Then there’s Tongkat Ali, a slender tree native to Malaysia that’s been praised for its ability to boost sexual desire and mood, while staving off impotence. The plant has demonstrated the ability to increase libido and improve erectile function when compared to a placebo.
Sexual Activity In Women
The difference in the way the world views the sexuality of women versus men is immediately apparent, even with minimal research. While for decades, men have had entire industries built upon their ability—or inability—to achieve an erection, the sexuality of older women is often still a taboo subject. As if, somehow, older women don’t deserve or require the same physical intimacy as their male counterparts.
This narrow perception of sexuality just doesn’t jibe with the progressive efforts being undertaken throughout the modern world—it’s time for a frank discussion of female sexuality, especially as it relates to the older generation.
The prevalence of sexual dysfunction among all women is estimated to be between 25 percent and 63 percent, while the prevalence in postmenopausal women is even higher, with rates between 68 percent and 86.5 percent. Taking that a bit further, the Global Study of Sexual Attitudes and Behaviors, which culled results from close to 14,000 women ages 40 to 80, reported that 26 to 48 percent of women had a lack of interest in sex and 18 to 41 percent reported difficulties reaching orgasm.
Meanwhile, in postmenopausal women, the prevalence of sexual dysfunction ranges from 68 to more than 86 percent. The study concluded that sexual dysfunction could significantly impact a women’s self-esteem and quality of life, leading to emotional distress and problems in relationships. One of the main contributing factors to a decline in an older women’s sexuality is the loss of estrogen, which is not produced at a sufficient enough pace to maintain premenopausal levels.
The depletion of estrogen isn’t the only hormone-related libido change that affects a woman’s sexuality. Often only associated with men, a decline in testosterone also contributes to sexual dysfunction in women, playing a significant role in maintaining a woman’s sexual health. Studies show that even women who have had estrogen replacement therapy display a decrease in sexual desire and activity—meanwhile testosterone was shown to increase sexual desire, fantasies, and arousal more than estrogen alone in postmenopausal women.
Meanwhile, a 2013 study on the herbal remedy Evening Primrose Oil (EPO) demonstrated that women who took EPO for six weeks reported improved mood and heightened sexuality. Read more about EPO and other nutrients for women’s health here.
And for a somewhat outside-the-box ingredient for female sexuality, there’s maca—also known as Peruvian ginseng. According to one study, maca could potentially aid sexual dysfunction in postmenopausal women, while herbal remedy has historically been linked to an increase in sexual desire.
Then there’s magnesium, the mineral that could improve a women’s sexuality just as solidly as it can that of a man. Magnesium increases biologically active testosterone in a woman's body by blocking it from binding to proteins—and more free-testosterone means a higher sex drive. Similarly, zinc, another helpful mineral, blocks the enzyme that converts testosterone into estrogen and, again, more testosterone equals a stronger libido for women.
Maintain Sexual Activity Into Your Later Years
Just because you’ve reached retirement age, that doesn’t mean your sex life also has to retire. With physical and emotional benefits, sex is an important function for older adults, just as it is for the younger generation. Recognize the factors that could contribute to a reduction in your sex drive and find out what nutrients and lifestyle changes might help you maintain a healthy sex life into your advanced age!