Sex over 60 – what no one will tell you

12 January 2016

Sex is a wonderful way to stay physically and mentally healthy later in life, and age is no barrier to enjoying a fulfilling sex life.



Sex in later life is a wonderful way to stay physically and mentally healthy, but with a few more years inevitably come a few more things to think about. What are the risks and the benefits of having fun on the sexy side of 60?

Read our tips for ways to have better sex

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Sex can be more enjoyable than when you were younger

According to a 2013 Saga survey, 71 per cent of over 50s reported having a healthy sex life, up from 65 per cent in 2007. Sex as you get older can help keep you feeling good, and is often better than it was when you were younger. In fact, many postmenopausal women report they can reach arousal much faster than they could before. As if you needed an excuse, right?

Talking about sex and the fact that you enjoy it might not have been something you did much when you were younger, but the world is a much more open place these days and so should your lines of communication be if you are entering a relationship with a new partner.

Of course, the ageing process does affect our bodies but we're all going through the same things. Our attitude can make all the difference. Approaching things in an open, accepting and understanding light can ease the journey and lead to a great sex life, as well as a deeper, more fulfilling relationship.

Find out the health benefits of an active sex life

Infection is a bigger risk than you might think

With age comes bodily concerns such as looser skin and often a lack of flexibility, but these are all things you can overcome and even laugh about – we're all in this together, right? Sexually transmitted infections (STIs), on the other hand, are no joking matter and can pass between people no matter what our age. In 2013, one in five heterosexuals diagnosed with HIV was over 50. 

Those coming out of a long-term relationship and dating for the first time in decades may find themselves unprepared. Remember that even if pregnancy is no longer a possibility you should always use a condom with a new partner to protect your health as well as theirs. Remember to steer clear of old or novelty condoms and only use those with the European CE mark.

It pays to know what to look out for when it comes to STIs. Abnormal bleeding during or after sex, sores, blisters, rashes and discharge are all signs that something could be wrong, but don't panic. In the UK, tests and treatments for STIs are available at genitourinary medicine clinics (GUM) and GP surgeries. If you're concerned about STIs, you can easily locate your nearest sexual health service and make an appointment to get checked out.

Find out more about STIs and the over 50s

Your libido won't be the same – but that's normal

It's completely normal to not have the same desire for sex that you had in your youth. There are many factors at play here - hormonal changes, medication and illness can all play their part in causing a low sex drive. Differing libidos can cause friction in a relationship, so it is important to be honest and let your partner know that you haven't gone off them as a lover.

Be sure you allow you and your partner plenty of time alone together, without the distractions of modern life.

If you are concerned about your libido then speak to your GP, particularly if you are already on any medication that might be causing a lower sex drive than normal.

Read our guide to the causes of low sex drive

You don't need an erection for satisfying sex 

While all men can have problems with their erection at any time, particularly as they age, persistent erectile dysfunction only affects about 17% of men over 60.

However, while a younger man can get an erection from simply thinking about or being near a person he finds attractive, an older man may find that he needs more stimulation and that his partner will need to take a more hands-on approach to encourage an erection. 

An older man may also find it takes him longer to reach climax than when he was younger, and that after ejaculation the refractory period (the amount of time before another erection) gets longer and it could be a day or two before he is next able to get an erection. 

A man unable to get an erection will need to make sure his partner knows that it isn't because he no longer finds them attractive as this can result in a lack of confidence with his lover, and confidence is key for satisfying sex.

If you are struggling to maintain an erection there are other options. You can speak to your doctor about medications available to help you, or get creative in the bedroom with touch, toys and oral. 

Remember that men don't need an erection to orgasm and that women do not need penetrative sex, in fact research in Psychology Today found that only 25% of women reach orgasm through penetration.

Read our tips for enjoying sex with erectile dysfunction

Sex can be painful for women – but it doesn't have to be

Going through menopause does not have to affect your sex life. In fact, as we mentioned earlier, it could even help improve things and with pregnancy no longer a concern you have one less thing to worry about. 

However, women may find that sex becomes more uncomfortable than it used to be and even though the desire is there their bodies do not respond in the way it did when they were younger. 

This is because our bodies produce produce less moisture as we age and vaginal dryness can be an issue, resulting in uncomfortable sex. If so, a water-based lubricant can help sex be more comfortable and enjoyable for both parties.

Find out how ageing can affect a woman's sex life

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated.

The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.