Getting older has a few perks — wisdom, greater perspective on life and senior discounts among them — but most of us associate aging with the harsh reality of wrinkles, joint problems and a decline in sexual performance.
Even though sexual activity does tend to decline with age, the link between age and sexual dysfunction isn’t as strong as you might think — and the reality might not be so harsh. It’s often possible to maintain your swagger well into old age, as long as you adopt good behaviors and habits when you’re younger.
Below, we’ve looked at the science behind aging and sexual health to explain when most men start to experience a decline in their sexual performance and incline in instances of sexual dysfunction.
We’ve also shared a few actionable tips that you can use to maintain a healthy, enjoyable sex life in your 60s, 70s and beyond.
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Since male sex drive and physical health can vary hugely from person to person, there’s no specific age at which most men give up on sex. There’s also no real answer to the question, “What age does a man stop getting hard?”
That’s right, fellas. Don’t let the “old men having sex is weird” or “old people having sex is a myth” comments bother you — they’re nonsense.
However, research suggests that most men stop having sex around 75 to 85 years of age.
In a 2010 study conducted by the University of Chicago, researchers looked at the link between age and sexual activity in men and women throughout the United States.
The study used data sourced from large-scale surveys of the US population and found that 38.9 percent of men between 75 to 85 years of age remained sexually active.
It also noted that 70.8 percent of sexually active men reported that they had a “good quality” sex life. Good on ya, gents!
Interestingly, the men who reported being in either very good or excellent health were more likely than their peers to maintain a high level of interest in sex, which helps confirm that keeping up with your health as you age is crucial for more than just living longer.
In short, most men remain sexually active well into retirement age, with the majority of sexually active senior men happy with their sex lives.
Sex drive, or libido, tends to decrease with age in men and women. Part of this is due to natural changes in your production of testosterone that occur as you get old, but there are a few other key factors that contribute, as well:
Let's look into how all of these things work together against your sex drive.
Testosterone is responsible for the pitch of your voice and the amount of muscle mass on your frame, and most importantly for regulating your sex drive.
It’s normal for your testosterone production to slowly decline as you age. Most men begin to produce less testosterone after age 30, with testosterone production dropping by about one percent every year.
FYI: Women experience a similar drop in hormone levels, with estrogen production declining after menopause. Who needs his and hers bathroom towels when you can have his and hers hormonal chaos, right?
Fellas, it's a natural part of life — as we get older, we stop being as spry as we used to be. Medical conditions such as cardiovascular disease, diabetes, and others become more prevalent, and some of them can — and do — have a negative effect on sexual performance and libido.
Certain medications used to treat age-related issues — like blood pressure medications or antidepressants — can also affect your sex drive. Check the side effects of your current medications and ask a healthcare provider questions about what libido issues you might experience.
Finally, your mental health is important (and not just for your libido, but definitely for your libido). Mental health conditions such as depression, anxiety, and stress — which often develop in middle age or later in life — can also have a negative effect on sexual desire.
While it’s normal to experience some amount of slowdown in your sexual desire as you grow older, entering your 60s, 70s or even your 80s doesn’t mean that you need to throw in the towel.
It’s absolutely possible to enjoy satisfying sexual relationships well into old age by doing the following:
Maintaining a healthy lifestyle
Addressing medical conditions
Preventing erectile dysfunction
Below, we’ve explained how.
When it comes to staying sexually active as you grow older, good physical health usually equals good sexual health and healthy sexual desire.
Simple things like exercising regularly, eating a balanced diet, getting good sleep each night and treating sleep issues like sleep apnea and avoiding unhealthy habits such as smoking or drinking alcohol excessively all have a positive impact on your sexual health and ability to maintain a healthy sex life in your 60s and 70s.
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Erectile dysfunction can affect men of all ages, but it’s particularly common in the older crowd.
In fact, research suggests that men have about a 40 percent risk of developing some form of ED in their 40s, with this risk increasing by 10 percent with each additional decade.
Modern ED medication is the route that most men take because it can make it easy to maintain an erection.
Popular medications for treating ED include:
tadalafil (generic Cialis®)
Used before sex, these medications make it easier to get and maintain an erection, allowing you some solid hanky-panky without having to worry about ED.
There’s also some new evidence that suggests that certain ED meds are associated with a decreased risk of heart attack, stroke, and overall mortality — just another reason to talk to a healthcare provider and see if they’re right for you.
Our guide to the most common ED treatments goes into more detail about how ED medications work, as well as what you should be aware of before using them.
Many sexual performance issues that affect older men are either directly caused or made worse by chronic health conditions, including:
Type 2 diabetes
Obesity and sleep apnea
If you have a chronic disease or other health issues that could affect your sexual function, make sure to treat it — ideally with your healthcare provider’s support.
It’s also important to take a proactive approach to check for age-related medical issues (like prostate cancer if you’re between the ages of 55 and 69) that could affect your sexual performance and quality of life.
By being proactive about your health, you’ll be able to deal with issues as they arise and maintain good sexual health and performance at any age.
Although it’s normal to have sex less frequently as you get older, good habits and a positive mindset can help you maintain a healthy sex life in your golden years. The key to endless senior libido is following some simple guidelines in the decades leading up.
Most men enjoy sex well into their 70s. The average man is still active at 75, and may enjoy another decade of fulfilling sexual escapades.
Libido declines as you age. Factors like testosterone levels, medication side effects, mental health and medical conditions can all reduce your sex drive.
Want to get hard at 80? Take care of your health now. Men who eat well, exercise, quit smoking, and drink in moderation are more likely to have a healthy libido.
Ready to make some changes and continue sporting wood at 100? The best time to start laying the groundwork is today.
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Dr. Martin Miner is the founder and former co-director of the Men’s Health Center at the Miriam Hospital in Providence, Rhode Island. He served as Chief of Family and Community Medicine for the Miriam Hospital, a teaching hospital of the Warren Alpert Medical School, from 2008 to 2018. The Men’s Health Center, under his leadership, was the first such center to open in the US. He is a clinical professor of family medicine and urology at the Warren Alpert Medical School of Brown University in Providence and has been charged with the development of a multidisciplinary Men’s Health Center within the Lifespan/Brown University system since 2008.
Dr. Miner graduated Phi Beta Kappa from Oberlin College with his AB in biology, and he received his MD from the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine. Upon receiving his MD, he completed his residency at Brown University. He practiced family medicine for 23 years, both at Harvard Pilgrim Health Care and in private practice.
Dr. Miner presently holds memberships in the American Academy of Family Physicians, the Rhode Island and Massachusetts Academy of Family Physicians, and the American Urological Association, and he is a fellow of the Sexual Medicine Society of North America. He is the former president of the American Society for Men’s Health and the current historian. He is the vice president of the Androgen Society, developed for the education of providers on the truths of testosterone therapy. Dr. Miner has served on the AUA Guideline Committees for erectile dysfunction, Peyronie’s disease, testosterone deficiency, and early screening for prostate cancer. He has served on the testosterone committees of the International Consultation on Sexual Medicine. He has presented both at the NIH and the White House on men’s health initiatives and has authored over 150 peer-reviewed publications and spoken nationally and internationally in multiple venues. He has co-chaired the Princeton III and is a steering committee member and one of the lead authors of Princeton IV, constructing guidelines for the evaluation of erectile dysfunction, the use of PDE5 inhibitors, and cardiac health and prevention.
Dr. Miner was chosen as the Brown Teacher of the Year in 2003 and 2007 and was recognized by the Massachusetts Medical Society’s Award as achieving the most significant contribution to Men’s Health: 2012.
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