Libido - Sex Drive

General Information

Sexual desire does not necessarily change with aging. Just as there are some younger people with low interest in sex and some with high, there are elders with variable interest. Desire may change with age but not necessarily because of the aging process. Some diseases of aging do interfere with potency or desire, but this is a secondary effect. Sexual desires, sexual capability, and sexual satisfaction remain important factors for many older people.

Matters of sexuality and sexual issues are highly personal, but they are also important issues in terms of your health and well-being. Your physician will help you find answers to questions concerning sexuality, and you need not refrain from discussing these issues. Your physician can arrange access to specialists and counseling for complex problems.

If there is any aging component to sexuality, it is probably the slowing of arousal, and this occurs principally in men. This slowing does not impair sexual function. Although potency may decrease, in men there is no loss of fertility with aging. There is no physiologic male climacteric or menopause.

Impotence (erectile dysfunction) can occur but not because of aging. Psychologic factors are a primary cause of impotence. Alcohol and drug effects also are major causes. The most common diseases that can cause impotence are diabetes and vascular insufficiency. A host of other diseases are responsible for a few cases of impotence.

Women have a clearly defined limit of fertility— menopause. However, there is no age limit to libido, and women generally continue their pattern of sexual activity into their elder years.

Menopausal changes in the vagina include dryness, which may increase susceptibility to infection and may cause some discomfort during intercourse. These are treatable problems. Illness imposes indirect limitations on a woman’s sexual activity.