08/02/2013 07:48 am ET

6 Myths About Sex After 50


6 Myths About Sex After 50

By Keren Smedley for

It’s easy as we age, in the youth obsessed society we live in, to believe that sex is for the young and not something we can really enjoy when we are older.
Read the following statements about sex after age 50, and write down your best guess for each one: true or false. Then, read on for the answers. You may be surprised.
1. We are less interested in sex as we age.
2. Adventurous sex is only for the young.
3. We will have problems with arousal as we age.
4. Sex will be less frequent when we're older.
5. Sex must involve intercourse and orgasm.
6. Heath problems and the menopause will end our sexual life.

1. We are less interested in sex as we age.
False: Nearly 9,000 people aged 50 or more were questioned about their sex lives by Populus on behalf of Saga Magazine for a recent survey. Almost three-fourths or 71 percent reported having a healthy sex life, compared to 65 percent in a similar study from 2007. While some said they had less sex than they did in their youth, many said they had more than when their children were small and they were working hard. A quarter of men and a third of women said it was much more enjoyable than it was in their 20s and 30s.

2. Adventurous sex is only for the young.
False: I think it depends what you call adventurous; some older couples do report that they no longer enjoy some positions, as their bodies are not as flexible. In a 2007 American survey at the University of Chicago of 3,005 people aged between 57 and 85, more than half of those aged under 75 said they gave or received oral sex, as did about a third of 75 to 85-year-olds. Older, more experienced lovers tend to be less inhibited.

3. We will have problems with arousal as we age.
False: Although men's erections generally occur faster when they are young, this is not a bad thing. Some men report how relieved they are about this change, as when they were young it felt like their arousal lead the way when they went into a room and they followed! Both men and women report that sex gets better as they get older because they know how to do it, and feel much more confident to ask for what they want.

4. Sex will be less frequent when we’re older.
False: This depends on the individual. Some will continue to have sex daily or twice daily, as they always did, and others will have sex monthly as they always did. Many people start new relationships in their 50s, and they report that they are having just as much sex as they did when they fell in love at age 21!

5. Sex must involve intercourse and orgasm.
False: It is a Western fallacy that "real" sex is intercourse and foreplay is not really part of it—or just something to do before you marry. Touching, kissing, stroking and licking are all sexual activity and are extremely enjoyable. For some it is exactly what they want. Making an orgasm the goal puts too much pressure on us, and we have enough of that in our lives.

6. Health problems and menopause will end our sexual life.
False: Of course our bodies age and we may want to do things differently, but that is no reason to stop us! It’s important if you are having difficulties having sex or you’ve been ill to talk to your doctor. But here's a fact: sex puts no more strain on the heart that walking up the stairs. If you're worried about your bodily changes, many women find that some sexual challenges can easily be helped with lubricant.

... How many did you get right?
Just one word of caution: you shouldn’t compare yourself to a 20-year-old! We tend to do this in relation to our physical selves. I’m sure you can’t run as fast as you once did, and I expect you’ve got a wrinkle or two. But there are so many emotional and practical ways in which you’re vastly more sophisticated and able than you once were. It’s time we accepted that things are different now that we’re older and for the most part, they are pretty good.
See my articles on relationships for over-50s: How to cope if you’re over 50 and your husband is "boring!"
I run workshops and offer coaching sessions on relationships, love and sex , and health and wellbeing. See my website:

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