Satisfying Sexuality for Older Couples

Okay, Baby Boomers, let’s be honest. When we hear the term “69” we now think not only about a sexual position but also about our age! So, it’s good to think through some of the challenges and opportunities older couples face in maintaining a satisfying sex life. I’m not an expert in this field. The thoughts I present grow out of my own experience as an older adult. I have also done a lot of reading about aging and sexuality. In fact, this all may be familiar information to you. But, it may be helpful to have these ideas organized in one place.
Keep in mind that everyone’s situation is different, so some of the things I talk about will not be relevant to you.

Our sexuality is a lifelong part of who we are. But, the way we experience sex and the way our bodies function does change with aging. So, let’s start by highlighting ten specific changes that can happen.

Ten Factors of Aging that May Interfere with Achieving Sexual Satisfaction

1. Erections may not be as hard or as lasting. This may be frustrating to both the husband and wife. It is, though, a normal part of aging. There are medical treatments that may help, such as Viagra. But, it’s good to be aware of potential side effects for the man and for the relationship.

2. Her ability to self-lubricate may be less. This can make intercourse (or any stimulation of the labia and vagina) uncomfortable. So other lubrication needs to be used. Coconut oil and water-based lubes like Astroglide are good options.

3. Decreased physical fitness, flexibility, and stamina. Back in ‘69, we may have been able to do 69 in the back seat of the car. But now, our bodies may not allow us to get into certain sexual positions. As we get older we often find that “the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

4. Decreased sensitivity in our sexual organs. It is common for nerve sensitivity to decrease as our bodies get older. The same act of touching that drove us wild 30 years ago may not have as much effect now.

5. Sex affected by some medical conditions and medications. Conditions like arthritis can affect a person’s ability to experience sexual pleasure. Heart conditions or heart medications can affect how well we function sexually. It can be helpful to have a frank conversation with your doctor about what effect your health issues may have on your sexual functioning.

6. Sexual taboos. If you grew up in a Christian home or environment, that probably gave you a positive start in many respects. But in the area of sexuality, many of us grew up in a repressed environment with poor information. We may have inherited attitudes of guilt and shame. Those childhood influences can affect us for a lifetime.  We may need to take some deliberate steps to move beyond them.

7. Increased family responsibilities. We envision our retirement years as being carefree.  But that is not always the reality. In today’s world, many older folks are taking care of their parents. They may also have children or grandchildren living with them. Those family roles impinge on free time and can stir feelings of resentment.

8. Limited privacy. Due to limited financial means, many older adults are not in their own home. They might be in an apartment building or living with family members. Lack of privacy can limit a couple’s ability to have the sexual experiences they would like.

9. Maintaining excitement for years. Ideally, a couple’s level of comfort and familiarity with each other grows over the years.  This helps to enhance their sexual fulfillment. But it takes work to stay fresh and creative with a sexual relationship. Otherwise, it may begin to feel stale and unfulfilling.

10. Adjusting to a new spouse after death or divorce. Studies indicate that the level of satisfaction is less in a subsequent marriage than it was in the first. Even in the best of conditions, there can be some difficulties in “starting over.” It takes work to have a fulfilling sexual relationship with a person who is different than your first spouse.

If you made it through all that discouraging news and are still reading, I commend you! I know this may feel like an overwhelming load of negative information. Hopefully, not all ten of those apply to you. But if you are over 65, then chances are you can relate to most of them to some degree.

My goal is not to make us depressed, but instead to help us be realistic. There can be serious challenges we face as older people. Maintaining a fulfilling sexual relationship can be difficult.

When we were 20, it was easy, automatic, and natural to jump into bed and have fun sex. Now, when we are 60, 80, or beyond, we can still have that! But, it will take a little more diligent attention to overcome the hurdles in our way. So, let’s talk about how to do that.

Ten Ways to Improve Our Ability to Achieve Sexual Satisfaction

1. Have the right spiritual connection. People of every age need God in their lives to find peace and satisfaction. That is especially true for older adults. Without God, we can feel that our time is slipping away and all that is left is decline and death. As a Christian, we can be grateful that God has blessed us with this season of life. Walking humbly with God keeps us from being self-centered. And self-centeredness is an attitude that’s very destructive to sexual relationships. When we draw close to God, then we understand that He created sex for our enjoyment and for blessing each other. That gives us great freedom to explore and appreciate our sexuality.

2. Pursue the right goal. For men, when we were younger our bodies drove us to “penetrate and ejaculate.” We may have seen that as the only “goal” of sex. Now we know that intercourse is only one form of sexual activity. Our real goal is not just “to get hard and get inside.” The goal should be to explore ways that we can achieve sexual satisfaction as a couple.

3. Use the right touch. Due to less natural lubrication, we need to become more creative. Find and use lubes, lotions, and oils that feel sensuous on the skin. Related to that, we may have to spend more time with gentle touches and caressing. But because the nerve endings aren’t as sensitive now, other changes are needed in the way we touch. We may find that our touch is more effective if we use our tongue instead of our fingers. Because our nerves are less sensitive, masturbation may be necessary to achieve orgasm. That’s because the touch has to be “just right.” It becomes more important to move beyond the crotch. So, explore other sensitive areas: nipples, anus, ears, neck, etc. We may also find it helpful to use a rougher touch. Slapping, spanking, and pinching can serve to “wake the nerves up” and get them going.

4. Find the right location. It’s more important now for our bodies to be in a setting that is comfortable and arousing. Using things such as candles, silk sheets, scents, and music can help. We may also enjoy the excitement of having sex somewhere other than the bedroom.

5. Choose the right time. First, this applies to the time of day. Waiting until bedtime when we are tired at the end of the day may not be the best time to make love. We may find that we can function better earlier in the day. Summoning energy for one big lovemaking experience can be difficult. Maybe little episodes two or three times during the day will work better. Second, “the right time” means being aware of our emotional state. Don’t just make love because “it is Friday night and that is what we do.” Instead, be more attentive to when the mood is right for both of you.

6. Have the right mindset. As an older person, it is easy to slip into a negative attitude about life. Over the years we have suffered losses.  Maybe we feel some guilt. And we do sense our own aging. But with God’s help, we can work to have a positive focus. We have much to be thankful for. Maybe our bodies don’t function as well now, but we have decades of experiences as fuel for fantasies. Our physical lovemaking may be less vigorous, but we can celebrate and savor it now. We have the time to enjoy the experience.

7. Acquire the right equipment. When we were 20, all we needed was a bed or even a back seat!  Now, we may benefit from pillows or cushions to support our bodies. We can expand our pleasure by finding the right lubricants and the best toys that work for us as a couple.

8. Make the right preparations. Let’s face the facts. At our age lovemaking requires a little more advance preparation. That starts with taking care of our health and keeping physically fit. Then it goes on to include advance planning and preparation for a specific sexual experience. And mentally, it includes being attentive to tease each other. This can build up our anticipation for what’s to come.

9. Engage in the right communication. Good communication is always important to sex, but now more than ever. As spouses, you need to know why sex is important to each of you. What does each of you really want from it? What specific things work for you now at this stage in your life. This list of “Ten Ways to Improve” could provide a format for some positive conversation.

10. Have the right support. On our own, we can’t overcome that heavy load of negatives listed at the beginning. We need insights and encouragement from others. Marriage Heat is one great place where we can receive that. I hope this article provides some positive help and encouragement to you!

Finally, articles like this have little benefit unless you put the principles into practice. You can easily make your own “action steps” for each of the points. In case you need help getting started, I will list one sample action for each point:

Spiritual.  This week we will pray together, thanking God for the blessing sex has been to us.  Or if you want to be more elaborate (or humorous), thank God for each others’ bodies using Song of Solomon 4:1-7 and 5:10-16 as a format.  This week we will each make a list of five sexual activities that we enjoy (other than intercourse) and then discuss those lists.

Touch.  This week we will set aside a time to explore each other with touch, not trying to move toward orgasm. Just trying various kinds of touch to see what feels good.

Location.  This week we will each make a list of five places where we would like to make love (they can be places you have done it before or new places).  Then we will discuss those lists and choose one place we will try within the next month.

Time.  This week we will each be on the lookout for those “right moments” when we would like to make love. Our goal is that during the week each of us will find three times when we can say to the other person “this is a time when I would like to have sex with you.” You can also talk through why this is a “right time.”

Mindset.  This week each of us will write a letter to the other, listing a few negative mindsets we see in ourselves. Then, ask for God’s help and our spouse’s help to leave those behind and focus on the positive.

Equipment.  This week we will try a new lotion, oil, or lubricant that we have not used before.

Preparation.  This week we will start planning a special sexual experience at least three weeks away. We will each take responsibility to do specific things to prepare for that event.

Communication.  If you have done any of the previous eight activities, you will have already covered this!

Support.  By this time next month, we will write an article for Marriage Heat to encourage others. It will describe how one of these principles had a positive impact on our sexual relationship.

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3 replies
  1. ILoveMarriage says:

    Hi–

    Thanks for your excellent article. I just turned 60, wife 58, so it is becoming very relevant!

    I want to suggest something to you and anyone reading this (especially older people) who is having any sexual difficulties. Get your hormones checked out! Loss of libido, erectile dysfunction, lack of lubrication, loss of sensitivity, etc. is not a given for older people.

    Wife went thru menopause with little more than a few hot flashes. Our sex life actually improved — her libido and ease with which she orgasmed actually improved. We rarely used any artificial lube. But she got cancer and lost her ovaries. Even though she was post-menopausal, the effects were devastating. She became depressed, lost her libido, couldn't orgasm, and her vagina started deteriorating.

    Meanwhile, I went from having sex or masturbating every day to hardly being able to get enough of an erection to give myself relief.

    We both went to a bioidentical hormone replacement therapy (bHRT) doctor. As a result, we are enjoying the best sex of our lives. Our libidos are good, she orgasms easily — often multiple times, and makes a nice wet spot on the sheets. We rarely use artificial lube.

    Me, I'm not like I was when I was 18, but rarely have any erection difficulties. I usually ejaculate every day. Recently we did it three times in 36 hours. I can still shoot a foot straight up. I have never taken Viagra or the like.

    We asked our doctor, who himself was 73 before he retired from practice, what the future holds for us sexually. He said as long as we maintain good hormone levels, we should enjoy a good normal sex life until we die. His wife was 50 and shared the office with him. She seemed like a quite satisfied lady 🙂

    Hormones do so much more than just allow you to have a good sex life. They are a great to overall health. We have both lost weight, rarely ever get sick, and are active. Since starting bHRT, I have taken up bicycle racing. I'm not real good at it, but I don't suck at it either. Not bad for a guy who has had a desk job all his life.

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