Embrace Your Midlife Sexual Changes
Posted on January 17, 2015
Change is hard for us. We are creatures of habit. When we are faced with changes we often fight tooth and nail to maintain the status quo. The more we struggle to maintain things the way they are, the more we suffer. Anyone who is over the age of about 20 knows that no matter what tactics we employ, things always change. We can stamp our feet, yell, cry, bargain, and even spend large amounts of money, all to no avail. When we are ill, or in physical or emotional pain, it is comforting to know that things will change. But when all is going along smoothly, and to our liking, we want to hold on to things as they are. Which of course, as we know, is impossible and only makes things more difficult.
Each day we see our environment change, our life situation change, our moods change, and perhaps most obvious of all, our bodies change. Hopefully with age comes some level of maturity and wisdom. We realize we can’t run as fast and as far as when we were 25. So we pace down a little. We can’t lift the heavy pieces of a downed tree. So we use a wheelbarrow. We can’t see so well, so we get glasses. We may not be all that thrilled about these changes, but we make adjustments and move on.
Not so much for the sexual changes related to aging. Many people expect their sexual response and abilities to be just as they were in their 20s or 30s. And as it becomes more apparent that this isn’t the case, a myriad of emotions will surface. Frustration, bewilderment, sadness and anger are common. But, I have also found that information and education, flexibility, and a sense of humor go a very long way to navigating the sexual changes related to midlife and aging.
Here are some of the common sexual changes men and women will likely encounter in midlife:
*decreased libido (desire)
*less firm (balky) erections
*more direct stimulation necessary to get & maintain erections
*erections that come & go during lovemaking
*less forceful ejaculations
*smaller amount of ejaculate or lack of ejaculation
*less intense orgasms
*longer time between orgasm & ability to raise another erection
*changes in the angle &/or direction of the penis
*lack of spontaneous desire for sex
*less natural vaginal lubrication (which can cause pain with intercourse)
*thinning, drying & decreased elasticity of vaginal tissues (which can cause pain with intercourse)
*decreased sensation in vulva, clitoris & nipples (necessitating more or different types of stimulation)
*difficulty reaching orgasm
*less intense orgasms
*urine leakage with orgasm
*bothersome & distracting hot flashes/night sweats
Many of the above changes are due to changing hormone levels, and changes in the vascular and circulatory system that are normal with aging. Though all these changes are normal and common they can still be very upsetting. Other changes may be related to medical conditions like high blood pressure, high cholesterol, or diabetes. Speak with your partner about how these changes are affecting you. Maintain a healthy diet rich in plant based foods and reduced red meats. Stay physically active. Limit medications (after speaking with your health care provider), as many have negative sexual side effects. Quit smoking. Manage your stress levels with yoga, meditation, or mindfulness practices. Get plenty of sleep.
Let go of the old and embrace the new. Stay open to all the possibilities in sexuality/sensuality that will present themselves if you let them. Your sex life may just end up being better than at any other time of your life.