How to Stay Vital as You Age

Medically Reviewed by Carol DerSarkissian, MD on October 28, 2021

It’s a myth that aging has to be a buzzkill in the bedroom. If you take care of yourself now and stick to a healthy lifestyle as you get older, you’ll continue to thrive between the sheets. Here’s how.

Exercise: Regular vigorous exercise improves your heart’s ability to pump blood. That’s important for sex, because a strong erection needs plenty of blood flow into your penis. Work up a sweat for 20 to 30 minutes each day and you’ll be a lot less likely to fail to launch. If you’re not used to exercise, start slowly. Brisk walking is an ideal workout, and your whole body will benefit. If you're over age 45 or have a medical condition, check with your doctor.

Eat right: While no one food will boost your sexual performance, eating the right types of foods, and in the right amounts, will keep you healthy and ready for sex. Focus on vegetables, fruits, whole grains, lean meats, and fish. Pay close attention to portion size. A healthy diet helps protect against heart disease, obesity, high blood pressure, and other chronic conditions that can affect sex.

Lose weight: Carrying extra pounds can be a problem. Over time, too much fat can lead to clogged arteries and poorer blood flow. That makes it tougher for your penis to get the blood it needs for a healthy erection. Combine exercise and a healthy diet to bring your weight down to where it should be.

Stop smoking: Men who quit smoking say they have better erections and faster arousal than men who don’t kick the habit. Men who smoke are twice as likely to have ED than nonsmokers. Consider the benefits you’ll reap in the bedroom and stop smoking now. If you've tried before, keep trying until it sticks.

Ask for help: Sex starts in your brain, so pay close attention to what’s going on in your head, and get help when you need it. Depression, for example, is a serious illness that disrupts many parts of daily life, and it can hamper sexual desire. Between ages 40 and 70, men with depression are likely to also have ED. Chronic stress, which raises your blood pressure and overworks your heart, is another libido killer. Some premenopausal women who seem uninterested in sex may be suffering from a condition called hypoactive sexual desire disorder (HSDD). In addition, drugs bremelanotide (Vyleesi) and flibanserin (Addyi) to improve a woman’s sex drive.

Sleep well: If you regularly skimp on sleep, you become more likely to get chronic health problems such as high blood pressure, heart disease, and diabetes, obesity, and mood disorders. Missing sleep can also slow down your sex drive; lost sleep has been linked to lower levels of testosterone in younger and older men. Make sleep a priority. If your sleep problems don't budge, see your doctor. Physical conditions like obstructive sleep apnea can be treated, as can ongoing problems with insomnia.

Check your meds: If you do have trouble in the bedroom, the cause may be in your medicine cabinet. Talk to your doctor about any medications you take, even if you didn't need a prescription for them. Other medications are often available that won't cause similar side effects and may do the job just as well and cause fewer problems. Common culprits include:

Get Checkups: Chronic problems like diabetes, high blood pressure, and heart disease don’t appear overnight. Instead, they build up over time and slowly impact your overall health, including your sex life. Starting now, see a doctor regularly to learn where your health stands and how best to avoid a troubling diagnosis.

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