Sex and the Golden Years


I have two brothers. Growing up, I assumed that my parents had intercourse only three times. Even when my parents were in their 60s and I was in my 20s, I couldn’t or didn’t want to imagine them being sexually active. Now however, as I approach perimenopause myself, I am increasingly aware that if desired, sexual activity may not only continue as we mature, but perhaps even improve.

The United States’ population is aging and the subset within this aging population that is growing at the most rapid rate is the menopausal woman. Today, many women can expect to live into their 80s or longer, and therefore live about a third of their lives being postmenopausal. This makes it imperative that the quality of their lives be maximized. For many, if not most women, sex is a real quality-of-life issue.

Today, we can talk freely about sex and not be considered promiscuous. However, this luxury of freedom of sexual speech has not always existed. For many mature women, sex was a taboo issue in the past, and discussing sexual problems was not even considered an option.

Sexual relations in the golden years are a reality for many women. For whatever reason, too many menopausal women are embarrassed by their sexual desires and need encouragement to ask questions and discuss sexual problems openly.

Do women lose interest in sex as they get older?
Studies have shown that women, like men, remain interested in sexual activity, even at older ages, and even in nursing homes. Throughout a woman’s lifetime, sexual feeling and fantasies are normal. Some women suffer greatly when their partner is impotent or gone. For many women, intercourse remains an important quality of life issue and for some, masturbation is a natural act, a method by which they can achieve sexual satisfaction, whether or not they have a partner.

Am I abnormal if I choose not to have sexual relations or just don’t seem to have any desire?
Absolutely not. Every woman is different and has different needs and desires. No one should ever feel pressured to have relations or to feel deprived or cheated should she decide that she has no desire, for whatever reason: spiritual, physical, emotional or whatever.

I just don’t have any interest in anything any more, not even sex. I’m so tired all the time and have appetite and weight changes. Is it just because I’m menopausal?

Menopause need not be a time for loss of interest in things that gave you pleasure before. However, you should discuss your symptoms with your healthcare provider since these symptoms may also be due to thyroid dysfunction (more common with advancing age) and even depression.

Sleep problems, for many reasons, can also affect mood. So it is important to put these issues before your healthcare provider to try to help maximize the golden years.

It seems that sex has been better than even before, now that I’m menopausal. Is this uncommon?
No. For many women, their sex life improves for various reasons, including no more fears of pregnancy.

Can a post-menopausal woman still climax?
Yes. Post-menopausal women can definitely still climax. For many women, independent of their ability to achieve orgasm, physical acts, even hugging, with or without intercourse, can add a spark to an already caring and close relationship.

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