As you get older, a lot can change in your life. You might be working less, finding new hobbies and valuing a new set of priorities. But one topic that is often swept under the rug is this: do men remain sexually active as they age?
The truth is that what happens in the bedroom isn't usually discussed, no matter how old you are. As blokes, it can be tricky chatting opening about touchy subjects like your sexual health, regardless of whether you're in your 20s, 60s or beyond.
The research tells us that men never stop being sexually active entirely. Instead, your sex life changes and the way you find pleasure might look different, too. It's often tied to your overall physical health and whether you're navigating other health concerns at the same time.
Let's run through how your sex life might change as you age.
Do men ever stop being sexually active?
In short, no. Studies have shown has an impressive 54 per cent of men over 70 are still sexually active. However, the same research also shows that men's level of sexual activity does tend to decline as they age.
Why? Well, this research indicates that sexual health concerns increase as you get older. For men specifically, erectile dysfunction (ED) is the most commonly reported challenge when it comes to having sex, experienced by 39 per cent of men aged 50 to 90 in a study published in 2015.
Other research has shown that the risk of developing ED is even higher as you age and rises by 10 per cent for each decade of your life. This means that by the time you reach your 60s, you could have a 60 per cent chance of experiencing ED or other difficulties with sexual function.
One of the other big factors that determine your interest in and desire for sex later in life is your overall health. A US study found that older men in very good to excellent overall health were more likely to be sexually active. Plus, the healthier you are in later life, the more likely you are to be having frequent sex too (once or more a week).
By staying active, managing health conditions and eating a balanced diet, it's possible to add five to seven years of sexually active life after the age of 55.
At what age does this happen?
When it comes to your sex life and overall sexual health, there's no single or straightforward answer to when you might stop being sexually active. That's because there is a stack of factors that determine sex life, such as whether you're navigating erectile dysfunction, what other health concerns you might be navigating and even your genetics.
Here's what the stats tell us: most men have what's called a sexual life expectancy.
Not only do your sex drive and libido decline as you age, but your ability to get hard and enjoy sex tends to become more challenging, too. While your sexually active life expectancy isn't set in stone, the research suggests you might experience a decline in regular sexual activity between the age of 75 to 80 years old.
That doesn't mean you'll stop having sex altogether. Instead, you might need some extra support to improve your sexual health and maintain a healthy sex life.
How a man's sex drive changes with age
After all this chat about health changes and erectile dysfunction, you're probably wondering what the next few decades have in store for your sex life.
You might have heard about a term called reaching your 'sexual peak'. It was first coined way back in 1953 by Alfred Kinsey in his work, Sexual Behaviour in the Human Female, which investigated the link between hormone levels and when men and women reach their 'sexual prime'.
Under this view, many of us were taught that men hit their sexual peak at just 18, while women have to wait until their 30s to enjoy the best sex of their lives. However, there are major flaws in only looking at hormone levels are a way of figuring out the quality of someone's sex life.
While higher testosterone levels do help to achieve sexual arousal, they're not the only factor that determines men's sex drive. Instead, it's important to look holistically at all the range of causes behind a healthy sex life, such as your overall health, your body image, and other health conditions that could be impacting your sexual performance.
Basically, there's no single answer to when men reach their 'sexual peak'. But, it is possible to track the way your sex life might change over the decades ahead.
Men's sex life in their 20s
During your 20s, you're likely to experience your highest testosterone levels, before they begin to decline over the decades to come.
As far as your sex drive goes, you're most likely to have a healthy libido during your 20s. But that's not the case for everyone. We know that one in two Aussie men experience ED at some point in their lives, and this can start as early as your 20s.
Men's sex life in their 30s and 40s
Once you reach your 30s, your testosterone levels decline by roughly 10 per cent from their 'peak'. Plus, these levels will continue to drop one per cent per year until you reach 40.
As you head toward your 40s, you may start to notice a decline in your libido and desire for sex. While women's sexual drive is reaching its peak during this time, men experience the opposite and you may feel less inclined to stay sexually active during these decades.
Plus, studies have shown that erectile dysfunction begins to become more commonly reported among men in their 40s and beyond.
Men's sex life in their 50s and 60s
Once you reach your 50s and 60s, your body is going through a range of changes that can impact how sexually active you are later in life.
For blokes, some of the most common physical health changes include:
- Lower-quality erections
- Reduced ejaculate volume
- Lower overall sexual functioning
Again, your overall health has a big role to play in how likely you are to retain a healthy sex life. Chronic health conditions, weight gain, and other health concerns are some of the big contributing factors that can see a drop in sexual activity during your 50s and 60s.
Men's sex life in their 70s and beyond
As you'd expect, your sex drive in your 70s+ tends to be the lowest of your life. That's due to a stack of reasons, including your heightened risk of experiencing erectile dysfunction, chronic illness and managing a number of health conditions.
Another big factor that determines how sexually active you are later in life is whether or not you have a current partner. One study of older men's sexual activity levels found that 49.5 per cent of men with partners were sexually active in the past six months, compared with 13.7 per cent of men without partners.
However, having a fulfilling sex life is still possible after you reach 70. You might just need some extra support to get you there.
The difference between men and women
As we mentioned, there are some differences in the way your sex lives and libido play out when comparing men and women.
As women age, they are two to three times more likely to be affected by a drop in sex drive. This decline happens slightly later in life than men, with women seeing the steepest decline in their sexual desire in their late 4os and 50s.
The biggest factor driving women's change in sex drive is menopause, which can cause a range of big changes sparked by falling estrogen levels. From hot flushes to night sweats to vaginal dryness, many women feel a big decrease in sexual desire once they reach their point in their lives.
However, the common thread among men and women is this: their sexual desire tends to decline as they age.
Tips for staying sexually active
While it's completely natural for your sex life to look different as you age, there are practical ways you can improve your sexual activity across your entire life.
Try erectile dysfunction medication
If you encounter challenges like ED as you age, it could be worth using medication (like Pilot's personalised ED treatments).
In fact, medication tends to be the first line of therapy for tackling ED, and the meds our practitioners prescribe at Pilot have helped to improve the sex life of 94 per cent of patients.
In most cases, the medication you'll be prescribed uses PDE5 inhibitors. They help by targeting the enzyme responsible for the contraction of blood vessels in the penis and can help to improve blood flow to support firm erections during sex.
Maintain a balanced and healthy lifestyle
As we mentioned, the healthier you are later in life, the more likely you are to remain sexually active. That means prioritising exercise, a balanced diet and limiting how much you drink and smoke can all help to improve your physical health and wellbeing.
The better you treat your body, the better you'll feel in the bedroom for decades to come.
The benefits of staying sexually active
Aside from feeling great, maintaining a healthy sex life can have a stack of benefits for your overall health.
Possible decreased risk of prostate cancer
Yep, having more sex can play a role in reducing your chances of developing prostate cancer.
Studies have shown that men who ejaculate multiple times per week are shown to be 36 per cent less likely to be diagnosed with prostate cancer by the age of 70.
While the evidence is patchy and limited, there are studies to suggest that regular sex (even later in life) can have long-term health benefits.
Stronger immune system
Studies have shown that regular intercourse can help to boost your levels of immunoglobulin (the antibody that acts as your body's first line of defence against disease).
The research tells us that having sex once or twice a week is shown the have the highest impact on boosting your immune system.
A good form of exercise
That's right, sex is a great form of exercise and can help you to stay healthy throughout the decades to come. Plus, regular sex can help to improve your heart health (with studies showing men who have weekly sex are 45 per cent less likely to develop heart disease).
When it comes to your sexual health, things do change as you get older. While the chance of ED does rise over the decades, there are ways to treat it effectively and maintain a sexually active life for years to come.