Sexual activity is as essential as intimacy for a fulfilled life.
Although many people may cringe at the thought of elderly individuals, such as their parents having or even enjoying sex, the fact is that many older individuals continue to have sex, some with even greater satisfaction than during their younger years.
This may lead one to wonder, at what age does a woman stop being sexually active? Even though body and health challenges may affect sexual desire and performance, many women continue to have and enjoy sex well into their 80s and 90s.
In this article, we’ll explore why women’s sexual activity decreases with age, how to increase their sex drive, and the potential risks sexual activity poses for older women.
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Why Does a Woman’s Sexual Activity Decrease with Age?
The natural and inevitable aging process can cause direct and indirect changes in sexual activity.
During mid-life, women face complications not encountered in their youth. Children, work, and home life may pose challenges in their everyday lives, leaving them exhausted and stressed, often with little sexual desire.
As women age and enter menopause, they face new issues as hormonal, physiological, and mental changes can affect sexual desire and performance.
Read More: How to Improve Your Menopause Symptoms?
Older women may experience a decrease in sexual activity as their hormone levels change. Between the ages of 45 and 55, women’s ovaries produce less estrogen and progesterone.
A decrease in hormones can lead to painful sex as vaginal lubrication decreases. Additionally, lower estrogen levels can also cause the vagina to narrow and shorten and for the vaginal walls to become thinner and less flexible.
If these issues are not addressed with a physician, the prospect of painful intercourse may be enough for a woman’s sexual activity to decrease with age.
Along with the physical changes women face as a result of decreased hormone levels, they can also experience muscle weakness as they age.
Muscle weakness can lead to pelvic organ prolapse (POP), which can cause a very painful sexual experience.
As the vaginal walls become thinner, women can also experience tearing and bleeding during sex.
Additionally, women can also undergo decreased vaginal acidity, which can lead to further irritation and infection. Thus, discouraging them from any sexual activity, no matter how much they may desire it.
Shifts in hormone levels as women age can lead to mood swings and increased depression. Women may experience anger, irritability, anxiety, low self-esteem and self-confidence, and sadness which can directly impact their sexual desire.
Additionally, some medications, such as antidepressants, antipsychotics, and even blood pressure medicines can affect any individual’s libido, especially during physical changes such as menopause.
According to the National Institute on Aging, “approximately 85% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and 60% have at least two chronic conditions.”
Chronic health issues, illness, disabilities, medications, and surgeries can negatively impact sexual performance and desire.
Issues such as obesity, chronic pain, arthritis, cancer, heart disease, and depression are some of the problems elderly individuals face as they age.
As such, these health issues can pose a challenge for women when trying to become physically intimate with their husbands whether one or the other is experiencing them.
How to Increase a Woman’s Sex Drive?
While physiological changes and poor physical and mental health are largely to blame for a woman’s low sex drive, a lack of desire can be due to a breakdown in communication or an absence of emotional closeness with their husband.
Luckily, there are a variety of approaches, many of which are quite simple, that can help preserve a fulfilling and pleasurable sex life.
- Women can use a lubricant or a low-dose vaginal estrogen when dryness or pain is the issue.
- Women can talk to their physician about swapping medications they suspect are having negative side effects on their sex life.
- Hormone therapy has been known to increase a woman’s sex drive.
- Sex therapy can be helpful when women are unable to climax.
- Lifestyle changes, such as:
- Exercising to improve blood flow and build strength and endurance can be helpful.
- Eating healthy to prevent heart disease and diabetes, and maintaining a healthy weight can help improve a woman’s sex drive.
- Consuming alcohol in moderation can be advantageous as large amounts of alcohol can lead to increased hot flashes and disrupt sleep.
Are There Risks of Sex for Older Women?
Yes, there are potential risks of sexual activity for older women. As women age, they may experience physical changes that can impact their sexual health and well-being. For example:
· Decreased hormone levels can lead to vaginal dryness, which can cause discomfort or pain during sex.
· As older women rediscover their sexuality, however, the risks for sexually transmitted diseases (STDs) increase. It is important to understand that age does not protect against STDs.
To ensure their safety, women need to ensure they use condoms, dental dams, or other types of barriers when enjoying sex,
especially with multiple partners.
Furthermore, screening often for STDs and talking with their partners about their sexual history is of utmost importance.
· The risk of falls and injuries may also increase during sexual activity for older women.
Are There Risks of Pregnancy for Older Women?
As women enter menopause, their risk for pregnancy disappears. Once they become empty nesters, they experience sexual freedom they did not have before.
What To Do When a Woman is No Longer Sexually Active?
Sex can look different as people age. Therefore, it is essential to expand the definition of sex as men and women age.
Sex does not have to be restricted to only sexual intercourse. As women become less sexually active, intimacy can be gained through other means.
Touching, kissing, or other sexual contacts, such as sensual or erotic massage, can be just as pleasurable.
Intimacy can also be gained through non-sexual touch, as in cuddling, hugging, holding hands, being next to each other, or giving each other backrubs or massages.
Sex is a pleasurable and fulfilling activity that can create connection and intimacy between spouses. As individuals get older, sex can look different and may not be restricted to just intercourse. Many women continue to have and enjoy sex into their 80s and 90s. Nonetheless, physiological, hormonal, and mental changes, along with illnesses and disabilities can decrease women’s sexual activity with age. Thankfully, there are a variety of simple strategies that can help women increase their sex drive. However, older women must keep in mind the risks of an active sex life.