Sex is often marketed as a young person’s activity. In movies, on the telly, and in advertisements, it seems sex, and being able to have sex, is a gambit for the youth. However, we at Starts At 60 know that this is hardly a realistic representation. We also know that there are sometimes age-related barriers to great sex that have an impact on your sex drive, and getting down to business. So, we’ve interviewed three of the foremost sex experts in Australia to find out all about sex drive and how it changes with age, and what you can do to improve not only your sex drive, but to be better in the bedroom.
The three experts we interviewed are:
Let’s get down to it.
Tracey: As we age, our hormones decrease and as a result sexual desire also declines. Becoming lubricated and aroused can take longer, as can achieving an orgasm. However, the positives are that sex as we get older is often better and more satisfying as the focus shifts from orgasms or generally being goal-orientated, to being more relaxed and pleasure orientated.
Chantelle: Our sex lives change as we age, this is to do with physical and emotional changes as well as different life stages – but that doesn’t mean that sex and sexual exploration is off the table. In fact, many people say the sex gets better as they age. Reassessing your sexual self and sexual menu becomes more important as we age to find what’s right and works for us at the time.
Cam: There are many factors that impact our sex drive, this includes hormones, along with our emotional and physical states. From a physical side of things, our levels of testosterone generally decrease with age which impacts libido but also our bodies change – some people may find as they age they become more tired or less flexible. As for the emotional state, it can be like a rollercoaster, full of ups and downs. For some people this could include getting and maintaining an erection, changes in self-esteem and performance anxiety. But anyone regardless of age, should broaden their definition of sex and explore other ways of being sexual together. Focus on what feels pleasurable as some activities (like penetration) might become more difficult with age.
Tracey: Take a well-rounded approach to your libido and be open to experimenting – it can be increased through multiple things. The happier you are the more open to intimacy you are, so prioritise activities that bring you joy. Be mindful of what you eat and try to exercise regularly. Aside from the dopamine hit, exercise increases blood flow, keeping you healthy and looking good. Exercises that focus on stretching, core strength and the pelvic floor, such as yoga, pilates and walking or jogging are great! Your genitals need a workout as well!
Regular orgasms and sex also help keep the genitals and pelvic floor healthy. Kegel exercises are great for strengthening your pelvic floor. Kegel training kits are great for older women because you can work up through different levels.
Two things I tell everybody – use lube for any and all sexual activity, solo play, couple play, foreplay, with toys – you name it! And sex toys are very handy! They are great for increasing stimulation, maintaining an erection and keeping you sexually active if you are single.
Chantelle: The first step to increasing one’s libido is to understand it. Firstly it will fluctuate throughout your lifetime and as you age and this is completely natural and normal. Secondly, everyone’s is different and unique as it is subjective based on what turns you on, and the way your body responds to sexual thoughts, desires and fantasies.
Little things can often make a big difference to your libido, and activating your sex drive. Incorporate a form of physical exercise into your week like walking, jogging or running (depending on fitness level), yoga or pilates. The release of endorphins makes us happier and hornier providing a libido booster. Exercising regularly helps improve our self-esteem so we feel more confident and sexy. Another added benefit is it increases blood flow which contributes to arousal levels. Try a little solo play, I recommend treating yourself first by doing an activity you enjoy prior, then exploring your body to discover new sensations incorporating a sex toy will enhance this experience. For vulva owners I would suggest both internal and external stimulation like rabbit vibrators and clitoral stimulators, and for penis owners, a male masturbator or cock ring – for extra sensations try ones that vibrate.
Cam: Sex drives, much like erections and firmness, can wax and wane. If your libido is low but you’re happy then that’s all that matters. If you would like for it to increase then the first and probably hardest step is to stop thinking about it. Anxiety inhibits libido, so if you’re anxious about your lack of libido this is only going to perpetuate the problem.
Instead, try taking time for self-care, exploring what makes you happy, turns you on and feels good and pleasurable. Masturbation offers a safe place to discover new sensations and feelings of pleasure without the pressure of performance. The more you masturbate and have sex, the more you will want to masturbate and have sex. Your libido is like a muscle that you have to work out. Use it or lose it. A recent Lovehoney survey found that a quarter of men who used a sex toy during solo play stated sex toys help them maintain an erection. It also improves mental health, with 86.8% of Aussies saying masturbation is good for their mental health.
Regular exercise can improve sexual function – cardio exercises, core training and pelvic floor exercises will help with stamina, switching positions and lasting longer. You’ll also feel more confident and like you’re “in” your body.
Be open and honest with yourself and your partner on what feels pleasurable. Focus on pleasure during any sexual activity and think of it as a menu – you and your partner pick and choose from your erotic menu to satisfy your needs. The addition of sex toys can enhance the sensations, plus help with stimulation and sensitivity issues associated with age.