Sex After 40

Sex After 40We are constantly changing. Our bodies change as we get older. Our thoughts and feelings about ourselves and our partner(s) can change. What is sought in intimate partnership(s) and how human sexuality is expressed within the relationship can look different as one becomes older.

Sex drive changes through various ages in addition to the quality and quantity of sexual encounters. According to researchers at the Kinsey Institute for Research in Sex, Reproduction, and Gender, the average sex frequency for adults ages 40-49 was 69 times a year. This is approximately half the rate of 18-29 years olds at 2x weekly, or 112 times a year.

Several factors impact having sex such as daily stressors, family obligations, the impact of chronic medical or mental health conditions, and current relational status.

While older adults may be having less sex, some are reporting some of the most satisfying sex after 40. Depending on who you ask, adults in their 40s, 50s, and 60s report experiencing the best sex.

Fewer distractions and more time and privacy to enjoy sex can lead to more quality sexual interactions, especially as one enters a new phase of life where children may be out of the home and work demands may lessen. There may be more freedom to express needs and sexual fantasies as older adults become comfortable in their relationships and become more self-confident in expressing sexuality-and-intimacy.

Middle-aged and older adults may worry about some of their body changes as their bodies will look different than what it was in their 20s. There may be physical limitations, depending on health concerns. Worries about attractiveness and challenges with “performance” may be a factor Those who are impacted by mental health conditions such as depression may have decreased interest or pleasure in sexual activity which can impact the relationship. There are a few things that you/ your partner can do to help.

Communicate with your Partner(s): Speak up about your wants and needs related to sex and intimacy. Be transparent about your feelings such as embarrassment, anxiety, or discomfort. Low self-esteem can make you feel less attractive to others and can be something to address with a mental health professional. If communication is hard to do in your relationship, therapy can help practice these skills.

Be Kind to Your Partner(s): When a partner discloses concerns such as attractiveness, or topics related to sexual performance such as difficulty maintaining an erection, please be kind and don’t blame. It is common to have concerns about performance and attractiveness and the relationship should feel safe to work through challenges. Being supportive and kind can help show acceptance, “let go” of inadequacy, and work towards solutions.

Talk to Your Doctor about Options & Address Underlying Conditions: There are options available such as over-the-counter lubricants for vaginal dryness, medications for erectile dysfunction, and prescription hormones that can help. If you are struggling with mental health or a chronic medical condition, be open with your partner about this and seek medical and/ or mental health support. Consider exploring alternative ways to give and receive love and affection.

Be Creative and Have Fun: Sex after 40 can be a lot of fun and sex-as-you-age is better over time for many adults as they have a good understanding of their bodies and what is pleasurable. They may be more comfortable asking for what they want and more willing to experiment or try new things. Do you have a sex bucket list?

Enjoy the Health Benefits of Sex: Sex has wonderful health benefits for both mental and physical well-being. Not only does it feel good, but it can add years to one’s life and deepen relationships. Consider how you might incorporate sex into your therapy treatment goals.

Written By: Charlotte Johnson, MA, LPCC

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