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Physical Changes in Sexual Arousal Associated with Aging: The Kinsey Institute New Report on Sex (1990)

People over the age of 65 are the fastest growing segment of the U.S. population. More than 30 million people in the United States are senior citizens.

Changes in Females
Changes in Males
Reduced muscle tone
Longer time to erection and orgasm
Reduced vaginal lubrication
Need for more direct stimulation
Reduced vaginal elasticity
Less semen emitted in ejaculation
Less blood flow to breasts and genitals during sexual arousal
Erections may be less firm
Reduced intensity of muscle spasms at orgasm
Longer refractory period and less intense orgasmic contractions

Despite these changes, partners can retain their orgasmic enjoyment well into their advanced years. In women, many of these changes may be slowed through estrogen replacement therapy and minimized through the use of water soluble lubricants (such as Astroglide).

In older men, following orgasm their erection subsides more quickly and it takes longer to ejaculate again (refractory period). Yet there is no difference between younger and older men in their level of sexual satisfaction or enjoyment (Schiavi et al., (1990) Healthy Aging and Male Sexual Function. American Journal of Psychiatry, 147, 766-771).

As we age our sensory preferences change. Remember when you hated olives as a kid but years later discover that you liked their taste. You may be surprised to discover that the smell of his after shave is now making you sneeze - even though he's worn the same fragrance for years! As time goes on, the need for accurate specific communication about your sexual likes and dislikes continues to be of vital importance. Don't assume that he or she will always like the same approach or technique. Stay open to modification. Perhaps a light touch to your breasts may have been arousing in the past, but now you might prefer more direct stimulation. Keep the lines of communication open, and your foreplay can be as passionate as ever.

Although some research supports that sexual daydreaming and sexual drive decrease with aging, nearly 95% of the older people in one sample reported that they liked sex, and 75% reported that orgasm was important to their sexual fulfillment (Starr & Weiner (1981). The Starr-Weiner Report on sex and sexuality in mature years. New York: Stein &Day). Although there are physical changes that occur with aging, sexual activity is influenced by psychological well-being, depth of intimacy, and cultural expectations.

An active sexual expression of physical pleasure (whether or not intercourse is included) does not naturally decrease as we age. Research suggests that the best predictor of future sexual satisfaction is past performance. That means that the sooner you get into a regular pattern of pleasurable sex, the more likely it will continue throughout your life.

For many older adults, their greatest challenge (other than finding a suitable partner) is feeling that it was normal to enjoy sex well into their seventies and beyond! Many hide their sexual activities from friends and relatives fearing disapproval.

It has been my experience from working with thousands of couples over more than twenty years that as intimacy increases, the capacity for passion increases. Couples in long term relationships who have continued to work at developing their closeness and intimacy, have the greatest potential for enjoying Extraordinary Sex.

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