Because sexuality tends to be a private matter, it's likely that you've heard less about sexual change than any other element of aging. Fortunately, the news is good-for most healthy adults, pleasure and interest don't diminish with age. Most people are sexual throughout their lives, with or without a partner, and some feel greater sexual freedom in their later years. On the other hand, some men and women are content to be sexually inactive.
Around age 50, men and women typically begin to notice changes in their sexual drive, sexual response, or both. Like so many other physical changes that evolve over time, these aren't signs that you are losing your sexuality. Rather, these changes are simply something to adjust to and discuss openly with your partner and/or your doctor.
When dance instructor Joan Price of Sebastopol, Calif., met the love of her life in her line dancing class at the age of 57, she was already wise to the steps and spins of modern dating, especially when it came to sex. She had been dating for years following her divorce, mostly short-term relationships, and was always careful to use condoms in bed.
Price, author of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty, says that when she and her now husband were ready to get intimate,...
Your skin may be more sensitive and easily irritated when caressed.
Intercourse may be painful because of thinning vaginal walls (regular sex often helps prevent this from becoming severe). If a water-based lubricant (such as Astroglide) isn't enough, talk to your doctor about vaginal estrogen cream, which reverses thinning and sensitivity. For more information, see the topics Menopause and Perimenopause and Sexual Problems in Women.
With a little experimentation and patience, you can adjust to sexual changes and satisfy your sexual and intimacy needs. If you think your sexual interest might be affected by a medicine or health problem, work with your doctor to correct or treat it. Talk with your partner about any misgivings you might have so you can handle them together.