Sexual Wellness Resource Center
For Adults over 50.

Rekindle the Flame

By Michael Bates, M.D.

Do the normal effects of aging extinguish sexual intimacy in some couples?

For most couples, the frequency and intensity of lovemaking declines over time. In fact, about 10% of couples have no sex at all after 20 years of marriage. Young couples and new older couples expect and want sex. As the years pass, some people decide that sex is optional. Or, they may have less interest in sex because of weight gain, illness, relationship problems, painful intercourse or erectile dysfunction.

When one member or the other of the couple begins to avoid sex, difficulties can develop from feelings of rejection by the other. No one likes to ask for intimacy and be consistently refused. This can lead to feelings of rejection, resentment, and anger.

The problem is greater for men, who on average have higher sexual desire than women. For women over 50, the menopause can cause vaginal dryness and painful intercourse. This pain can cause a conscious or unconscious avoidance of sex. She may display less affection in hopes of avoiding painful sex.

After repeated rejection, her partner will likely stop initiating sex rather than face the possibility of rejection. He might gradually begin to shy away from all displays of affection.

However, it may not be the woman who is rejecting sex. As the man gets to 50 and beyond he can begin to have erection problems. He may pull away from sex because of performance anxiety. In this case, it is the man who begins to display less affection to his partner for fear of initiating an ultimately unsuccessful sexual encounter.

Some couples just stop having sex, claiming that sex is not the most important thing in their relationship. However, research confirms that couples that maintain sexual intimacy report a much greater sense of well-being, love, attachment, and emotional closeness with their partner.

If you would like to rekindle the flame, what steps can you take?

  • Talk. The best approach is honest communication. Chances are, fellows, your partner is already aware of your erection problems. Talk them over openly with her. Make an appointment with your doctor for both of you to visit with him/her. Treatment is available.
  • The same goes for you, ladies. There are products that can treat painful sex, such as lubricants and topical vaginal estrogen. Both of you can visit your gynecologist with concerns and questions.
  • Make an effort.
  • Touch one another the way you used to: affectionately, playfully, and erotically.
  • Work on getting in shape and feeling good about yourself.
  • Enjoy romantic nights out like you used to. Dress up, have a nice dinner, and share a bottle of wine.
  • Experiment with sex toys.
  • Explore the pleasures of “outercourse.”

Sexuality is one of the most important quality of life issues for both men and women. Couples do survive without sex, but these couples miss out. Sexual intimacy is one of the most important things that binds us together. It makes us feel attractive and loved, emotionally closer to each other, and can help relieve stress. Make the effort, you will like the results, I promise.

Do you have questions about sexuality and aging? Feel free to send them our way. And if you’re looking for sexual aids and toys to help rekindle the flame, visit the Xs & Os Store. You can shop in the privacy of your own home, and have quality sexual aids shipped free right to you.