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  health > seniors > story page AIDSAlternative MedicineCancerDiet & FitnessHeartMenSeniorsWomen

Sex over 60

August 9, 1999
Web posted at: 1:23 PM EDT (1723 GMT)

By Deb Levine, M.A.

Sex over 60: Bedroom Statistics

  • 48% of Americans age 60 and over are sexually active (having sex at least once a month)

  • 40% of those over 60 would like to have sex more often than they do now.

  • 79% percent of older men and 66% of older women say that they are as satisfied, if not more, than when they were in their 40s.

    Source: The National Council on Aging

  • Common Sexual Issues for people over 60

  • Periodic erectile dysfunction

  • Longer time to achieve erection

  • Erections that are not as firm or as large as previously experienced

  • Rapid loss of erection following orgasm

  • Longer refractory, or resting period, after orgasm


  • Change in shape and elasticity of the vagina

  • Decrease in vaginal lubrication

  • Pain during sex

  • Decrease in sexual desire

  • (WebMD) -- Americans today are living longer, fuller, more active lives than ever before. Older people's days are now chock-full of activities such as power walking, teaching classes, yoga and sex.

    Since most of our images of sexy, sexual people focus on younger and midlife adults, it's hard to imagine that anyone over 60 is actually sexual. But seniors today are proving us wrong, and are going for the gusto!

    Sexual dysfunction as we age is not inevitable. With the right information and a little help from a good health-care provider, older people can often have great sex right through until their last days.

    The most common sexual problems experienced by older adults are in the area of sexual response. For women, estrogen replacement therapy (ERT) can directly replace hormonal loss from menopause, so that body changes that lead to painful sex are reversed. Sexual desire usually returns once the discomfort of sex is relieved. Lubricant is another easy choice, instead of or in addition to ERT, to resolve sexual discomfort as women age.

    For men, erectile dysfunction in the later years can be the result of underlying factors such as diabetes, depression, traumatic injury or heart disease. Certain medications can also cause erectile dysfunction. The new pharmaceutical Viagra should virtually eliminate this problem. Most men are now able to have fully erect, sexually functioning organs just in time for their sexual activity. And a little extra foreplay should be able to take care of any other irritating difficulties resulting from normal aging.

    Perceived attractiveness changes as we age; people in their later years may have gained weight, added wrinkles and lost muscle tone. Changing your sexual focus from physical traits to mental and spiritual qualities can help stimulate a healthy senior sex life. Add some extra time for stimulation, a dose of communication and cuddling, and you've got a recipe for sexual satisfaction.

    Here's some more advice on keeping your sex life alive and well as you approach your later years:

  • For those in age-old relationships, take the time to change your routine. Timing, location and role playing can all add spice to a tried-and-true sexual method. There's also nothing wrong with varying your activities. Many couples include masturbation, solo or mutually with their partner, as a part of their more "mature" sex play.
  • For those who are single after losing a life mate, it's okay to choose masturbation. It's a normal, healthy response and a good way to stay sexually active as you age.
  • For those in new relationships, communicate with your partner. Get to know his or her likes and dislikes. Explore. Learn how to love again. Don't be afraid of your sexuality.
  • And for everyone: Eat nutritious food and exercise regularly to keep your body strong. Stay alert by reading and interacting with people. And odd as it may sound, helping others is one of the keys to a fulfilling sex life when you are older. Take the time to do things for other people and it's likely you'll feel more worthwhile, desirable and sexy for your partner.
  • Deb Levine, BSW, MA, is an author, health educator and a social worker. She has been giving sexuality and relationship advice on the Web almost since its inception.

    Copyright 1999 by WebMD, Inc. All rights reserved.

    Erectile dysfunction
    Sexuality and menopause

    National Council on Aging
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