Sexual Health Q&A

Female Sexual Health Male Sexual Health
Does a person’s libido/sexual desire necessarily decline with age?

For most people, libido does decline with age. But this doesn’t always happen. Much depends on a person’s health, lifestyle, and personal situation.

One of the biggest factors affecting libido in older people is a decrease in sex hormones.

Men’s levels of testosterone start to fall about 1% each year starting around age 30, causing many to lose sexual interest. Men might also have problems with erections, weakness, and moodiness. Making lifestyle changes, like exercising more or sticking to a healthy diet, can help. Some doctors prescribe testosterone replacement therapy as well. (Learn more about low testosterone here.)

Women’s estrogen levels decline at menopause. This drop can affect more than sex drive. Estrogen keeps vaginal tissue moist and healthy, but at menopause, the vagina can become dry and less elastic, leading to sexual pain. Gynecologists might recommend hormone replacement therapy.

Interestingly, some women discover that they are more interested in sex after menopause, especially since they are no longer worried about pregnancy.

However, hormonal decline isn’t the only reason a person’s libido may drop. Other factors, which can affect sex drive across the lifespan, may become more prominent as people age:

  • Other medical conditions. As people age, they become more likely to develop conditions like diabetes and heart disease, which might interfere with libido.
  • Medications. Low sex drive is a common side effect of many drugs, such as antidepressants, blood pressure medications, and opioids. (Learn more here.)
  • Stress, anxiety, and depression. Concerns about one’s own health, family members, retirement, finances, and living conditions might cause emotional upset and reduce sex drive.

Anyone concerned about low sex drive – at any age – shouldn’t hesitate to speak to their doctor.

As mentioned earlier, not all people see their libido decline as they get older. Some couples feel that sex gets better with age. With children grown and out of the house, they might have more freedom and privacy than they did before. If they have retired, they might have more time for themselves as a couple and engage in more activities they enjoy, including sex. Staying as healthy and active as possible can go a long way to enjoying intimacy in later life.

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