Intimacy takes on different forms as we age
Submitted by: Marc C. Gittelman, M.D.
Submitted on: May 9, 2006
Q: My husband and I are well into our 60s and my sexual desire has decreased. We are not the crazy wild teenagers we were so many years ago. It seems like everyone is hopping into bed with each other even in their retirement years. What is normal for our age?
A: The funny thing is that I get this question from many patients. The 20-something newlyweds want to know what is normal. The yuppies in their 30s want to know what is normal when they are trying to conceive. The overworked couples in their 40s aren’t sure if they are keeping up. And the active women in their 70s and 80s want to know if their partners who desire them are “dirty old men.”
Of course the answer is different for each individual and each couple. But everyone wants to know the numbers. So here they are. Older men are still very sexually active, even in the age group of 70-79. In a study of more than 14,000 men in seven countries, 92 percent of men in their 50s reported being sexually active in the past month. Eighty-three percent of men in their 60s reported sexual activity in the past month as did 65 percent of men in their 70s. But the important point here is that a man considered in the encounter to be “sexual” if it included intercourse, masturbation, or any other activity that he considered to be sexual.
The take home message here is that the majority of people of every age crave intimacy regardless of whether they express it as sensual kissing, sexual engagement of any kind or just cuddling. Still, others are “sexually retired” and experience closeness through hand-holding or sharing a romantic moment. As human beings, we all share the common genetic makeup that gives us great satisfaction to bond closely with our loved ones, whether they are 20 or 120.