In Part I, we talked about some of the important things that can affect the love life of women after 50. I hope you found that information useful in taking the first step to rekindling, or maintaining, an active love life. Here in Part II, I’d like to discuss the issues that can affect romance for men after 50. Some of the problems – like hormone changes – affect both men and women, but there are also some specific, men-only issues that can impact the quality – or frequency – of a man’s romantic relationships.
For Men Only: Age Changes and Your Love Life
I read an article recently where the author said something I found both a little amusing and touching at the same time. To paraphrase, he said, ‘with age, intimacy changes. It becomes less like the Fourth of July, and more like Thanksgiving.’ When I thought about it the words rang true when it comes to love life of adults over 50. As you get older, your love life may not have the weekend-long torrid passions and stamina it did when you were younger. The trade off for that, hopefully, comes with a deeper bond and understanding between you and your partner. Having a partner that understands the issues a man over 50 may have to deal with regarding intimacy can make your romantic encounters with your spouse or significant other that much more fulfilling. Here are some of the important issues, both positive and negative, that you might want to share with them:
1. Hormone changes. Around the young age of 30, your testosterone levels start to decrease, so that by the time you reach 50-55, your testosterone levels may have fallen to half of what you used to have. As a result, your desire for intimacy may have decreased as well as your physical ability to perform. Decreasing testosterone levels, or “low-T”, can also affect your ability to get and sustain an erection. The simplest thing – a dog barking outside, a phone ringing – can distract you so much that you lose it. The whole process then can create a lot of anxiety about whether or not you’ll be able to perform intimately and that uneasiness alone can hamper your ability to get an erection. Erection drugs like Viagra, Cialis and Levitra – although they can be successful in creating an erection – also have side effects that may not be worth the risk.
2. Medical conditions. Several medical conditions can affect your ability to get an erection and/or sustain intercourse to ejaculation. These include diabetes, depression, and high blood pressure, nerve damage in the lower body, multiple sclerosis, thyroid disorder, heart /vascular disease (PAD) and prostate changes. Certain drugs you may take for these conditions can have impotence and/or ejaculation problems as a side effect. Ask your doctor about possibly changing, or stopping drugs that have that side effect. You may also experience enlargement of the prostate – benign prostatic hypertrophy – which can push on your bladder causing frequent urination and hamper your ability to get an erection or perform sexually. You may want to try a male enhancement device – a reputable one is Pos-TVac – that helps you achieve a satisfactory erection. Regular exercise, weight loss, can also increase blood flow to the penis.
3. Lifestyle. Job/relationship stress, drinking too much alcohol, taking recreational drugs, smoking, not sleeping enough can all diminish your physical well-being. In turn, it can decrease your libido as well as affect your ability to get and sustain an erection. You may be wrapped up in maintaining a fast-lane lifestyle that you lose the desire for a romantic connection to someone as well.
Intimacy past age 50 is not always problematic. There are some positive aspects of intimacy after age 50 and ways you can enjoy a romantic relationship. Some of them don’t even involve traditional intercourse either. Here’s why:
1. Arousal synching. As men get older, they become more in synch with the arousal time of women, which is typically slower than a man. So, past age 50, you require about the same level of “foreplay” as women do – meaning you both can enjoy the experience longer. Whether it culminates in actual vaginal intercourse is optional (see no. 2).
2. Other methods. Many of my female patients tell me that vaginal intercourse is really not that important to them. Communicating thoughts, feelings, and expressing what you and your partner would like from each other can bring about increased levels of closeness with your partner. More time spent cuddling, engaging in foreplay, fantasy sharing, experimentation with “toys” can not only lead to stronger orgasms but a more deeply fulfilling intimate encounter. For women over 50 who may have vaginal dryness or atrophy issues, having “outercourse” with their partner can be much more pleasurable than traditional intercourse.
Creating, or maintaining, a successful intimate relationship with your spouse or significant other is more than possible as you get older. In fact, it could be the best time of your romantic life if you, and your partner, are willing to work with the issues that can affect both of you. Talk to your doctor, or counselor, about your concerns and symptoms. Your waning desire may just need a little testosterone supplementation, a change in certain drugs you are taking, getting more sleep and exercise, or eating healthier. Talk to your doctor about ways to keep your love life burning long into old age.
Mark Rosenberg, M.D.
5 Key Ways Sex Changes for Older Men, http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/all-about-sex/201302/5-key-ways-sex-changes-older-men
Men’s Secret Sex Problems, http://www.aarp.org/relationships/love-sex/info-11-2010/men_sex_problem_cannot_climax.html