Your Sex Life Changes As You Age

February 15, 2018 at 10:33 am


As you age changes in your body and hormones can negatively impact your sex life. As you enter your golden years, you may find that some sexual activities become more challenging than when you were younger. If this is the case, the first step is to start an open conversation with your partner and with your health care provider to identify the challenges and to explore some solutions.

Hormone changes, chronic health conditions and certain medications can hamper sexual desire and performance. However, it is possible for men and women to continue a healthy and active sex life once these issues are addressed.

Andropause and Low Testosterone in Men

Andropause or male menopause is a term used to describe the main hormone change that occurs in men with aging – a reduction in testosterone. Although a reduction in testosterone levels occurs slowly in men compared to the sharp decline of estrogen in women, this hormone change can lead to symptoms such as fatigue, insomnia, low sexual desire and erectile dysfunction or ED.

ED is the inability to maintain a firm erection for sexual intercourse and while the occasional occurrence of erectile dysfunction is normal, chronic erectile dysfunction could be one sign of a health issue that needs to be addressed.

Your health care professional will explore the possible causes of the ED. Although it may happen more often with declining testosterone levels, it can also occur in conditions such as hypertension, diabetes, stress, anxiety and with certain medications. If the issue is reduced testosterone levels, your doctor may recommend hormone replacement therapy, weight bearing exercise, and specific supplements and herbs to help.

Perimenopause and Menopause in Women

In women, as menopause approaches the production of the hormones estrogen, progesterone and testosterone begin to fluctuate and eventually decline. Some of the symptoms associated with this shift in hormones include a reduced desire for sex, a decrease in vaginal lubrication, and reduced blood flow to your vaginal walls.

Unfortunately, this can make vaginal penetration painful in some women. Your health care provider will explore solutions such as personal lubricants and hormone therapy such as topical estrogen cream to restore lubrication and sexual arousal. As with men, it is also important to rule out the side effects from medications, stress and other chronic illnesses including hypertension and diabetes.

Diabetes and Blood Sugar Control

Diabetes is a group of disorders characterized by high blood sugar levels. Type 2 diabetes is commonly diagnosed in middle age however many individuals can go years before a diagnosis is confirmed.

Untreated or uncontrolled diabetes can lead to sexual dysfunction. Diabetic neuropathy or nerve damage can occur when your blood sugar is not under control which can lead to a lack of stimulation in the nerves that control a normal sexual response.

In men, this can be one cause of erectile dysfunction. In women, this can lead to a decrease in sexual arousal and the ability to achieve orgasm. The best solution is to keep your blood sugar under control with a low glycemic diet, regular physical activity and the appropriate medications and supplements as prescribed by your health care provider.

Check Your Medications

As you get older, you may find that you are on different medications for your health concerns and unfortunately some medications can interfere with your sexual health. Medications for blood pressure, antidepressants and antihistamines are common culprits. Speak with your doctor about your medication and consider making a switch. If this is not possible, a naturopathic doctor may be able to provide lifestyle and dietary recommendations to deal with this side effect.

It is possible to maintain a healthy and active sex life as you age. Aside from the common hormonal shifts that occur with aging, chronic conditions and medications can all play a role in your sexual health. Don’t be afraid to speak with your health care provider about these issues.

If you are lacking sexual desire, if sex is painful or if you believe you are suffering from erectile dysfunction or vaginal irritation there are solutions that can help you reestablish a healthy sex life in middle age and beyond.

About the Author

Dr. Olivia Rose graduated from the University of Guelph with a Bachelor of Science Honours degree in Nutritional and Nutraceutical Sciences and in 2006, she graduated from the Canadian College of Naturopathic Medicine.

In addition to her private practice, Dr. Rose is the director of Fertility Acupuncture Services, a mobile service that brings acupuncture to couples undergoing in vitro fertilization and intrauterine insemination at Toronto fertility clinics. Her special areas of interest include infertility; children and teen health; stress management; weight loss; heart disease; digestive and immune health; skin rejuvenation and pain management. She is a birth doula and has additional training in cosmetic acupuncture and needle-less therapies for skin rejuvenation and joint pain.

Dr. Rose is a sought-after lecturer for community organizations; a freelance writer and mentor to new graduates. She has been interviewed by various media outlets including Global Toronto’s, “The Morning Show”, “News at Noon” and “News Hour”. In her free time, she unplugs at the spa and she enjoys spending quality time with her husband, son and tea-cup Yorkie. For more information on Dr. Rose's practice and special events, please visit -