It is believed that older age is associated with a decline in sexual interest and behaviour. However this is not always the case. Sexual behaviour and interest varies very much from one individual to the next, depending on the person’s physical health, psychological health and previous sexual activity.


Many older people find that they are able to enjoy their sex life more than they did in their youth. This is because they feel more comfortable about the bodies, they are more likely to know what they and their partner find pleasurable and consequently, they find that they are able to enjoy other aspects of sexuality such as intimacy and affection more than they did in previous years.


There is the possibility that as a person ages there is a greater chance of developing a number of conditions that may affect sexuality, however these need not be a barrier to enjoying sexual activity. Use of sexual aids or mutual masturbation may be alternatives to consider. Even in the healthy adult, some changes are inevitable. Ageing slows the arousal response in both men and women.


After a woman goes through menopause, she no longer releases an ovum monthly, and therefore can’t get pregnant. Older women find that they are therefore able to enjoy sexual activity without worrying about contraception. Men however will produce sperm all their life, and can make their partner pregnant at any age.



Changes in older men may include:


  • Loss of firmness of erection
  • Longer time and more manual stimulation required to achieve an erection
  • Longer plateau phase (i.e. time between ejaculation and getting another erection)


Changes in older women may include:


  • Labia loses its firmness
  • Vaginal walls lose elasticity
  • Dryness
  • Hypersensitivity of the clitoris.


Many chronic diseases as well as their treatment that elderly people experience can also modify sexual expression. Therefore, this should be discussed with the treating physician, rather than taken for granted that nothing can be done about it.