What Couples Can Expect from Sex After 40

PC:Pixabay

In their book, The Act of Marriage After 40, the LaHaye’s share a joke: [i]

The following are the three stages of a couple’s love life-

  1. Couples in their twenties have sex triweekly.
  2. Couples in their thirties try weekly to have sex.
  3. Couples in their forties, fifties, and sixties try weakly to have sexual relations.

Those of you crossing the threshold into the middle-age years, don’t believe a word of what you may hear about your sex life dying.

It won’t die (unless you let it), but you will have to adapt to the changes that occur as you age.

Declining sex hormones play a big part in both desire and sexual functioning and if a couple is unprepared they could feel disappointed and anxious about their love life.

The good news is – with understanding and a few simple adjustments, physical intimacy can continue throughout your 40’s, 50’s, 60’s and beyond.

  You don’t have to give up on sex just because you’re getting older. It can feel as satisfying as ever – or even better – and deepen the love you share.

What men can expect from sex after 40

In men, for every year after 40, the sex hormone testosterone drops by about 1 percent. As a result, the desire for sex begins a slow decline.

Erections can become less reliable and will not be as firm. Minor distractions may make cause loss of erection and it may take longer to reach orgasm.  

The biggest difference is the “rebound” – the time it takes for a man to recover before sex is possible again. As he gets older it will take longer – anything from 12-24 hours, and sometimes several days.

What women can expect from sex after 40

Women generally experience an increase in desire for sex after 40. This may be because women have time to focus on themselves more with the responsibilities of motherhood lessening.

“…women reach their sexual peak ten, twenty years after men when they are in their late thirties and remain on that plateau through their sixties, after which they may show a slight decline in sexual response capability.” [ii]

As they approach menopause (somewhere between the age of 45-50) women can expect the vaginal tissue to become thinner and drier due to low levels of oestrogen, making sex painful. Low oestrogen can also increase chances of urinary tract infections or thrush. A woman’s desire for sex will diminish slightly after menopause.  

This doesn’t mean that a woman’s love life comes to an end at menopause.

“Many women feel that sex is more enjoyable after menopause since there is no risk of becoming pregnant. Others feel their sexual assertiveness increases because they feel comfortable in a stable marriage.” [iii]

What couples can do to keep their sexual relationship alive:

  • Accept the changes in your body. Develop a good attitude toward the changes and be willing to adapt. If you think you’re too old for sex, you’ll act accordingly. A good sense of humour will go a long way too.
  • Stay healthy and fit. Eat as clean as possible and exercise regularly. Sex is largely dependent on blood flow, and sugars and unhealthy fats hinder good blood flow.

Michael Roizen, MD, chief wellness officer of the Cleveland Clinic says, “Waist size is directly related to sexual function. The higher it is, the higher chances you’ll have some dysfunction.”

Combined with regular exercise, do Kegels exercises to strengthen your pelvic floor. So how do you actually do a Kegel?

Tighten your pelvic muscles – the same ones that stop you from urinating—for 2 to 3 seconds and repeat this action 10 times at least 5 times a day. You can do this while driving, standing, or sitting, and no one will notice.

A strong pelvic floor isn’t just for preventing leaks. It can increase the ability to orgasm, and both men and women should do them.  

  • Boost testosterone. It’s the key hormone for both men and women for sex drive. Resistance training increases muscle mass which improves testosterone.  If you don’t have any weights at home or can’t go to the gym, then do bodyweight exercises like pushups, squats, and lunges.

Testosterone levels are always higher in the morning. Take advantage of this and make love about 45 minutes after waking up – once your body has had a chance to wake up. Sex increases testosterone levels.

Make sure you get enough sleep. Between 7-10 hours of sleep a night will keep your testosterone at a healthy level.

Lower your stress levels. Elevated cortisol negatively impacts testosterone.

  • Learn to stay mentally engaged during sex. As you get older your body’s responses slow and you will need to rely on your mind more to make things happen. Focus on what you are feeling and what your spouse looks like.
  • Make love regularly. If you don’t use it, you’ll lose it. Regular sex will keep things active and healthy. “An erect penis is similar to a hydraulic pump, and if the organ is not “oiled” every now and then through sexual use, veins contract and sacs collapse.” [iv] This applies to women’s sexual organs too.
  • Nurture the emotional side of your relationship. Do fun things, play together, go for walks together, snuggle, hold hands, write love notes or send messages,  and talk.

Sex can remain interesting, fulfilling, and exciting after 40. But make sure you are investing in your relationship, not just sex. Sex is not love. Anyone can have sex.

Real sex is an expression of love and love takes time.  

What can you, as a couple, do to prepare for a great sexual relationship as you get older?


[i] Pg 21

[ii] Bernard D Starr and Marcella Bakur Weiner, On Sex & Sexuality, 15

[iii] Tim & Beverly LaHaye, The Act of Marriage After 40, 23

[iv] Ibid.,59

About The Author

Jennifer Lovemore

Jennifer has diplomas in relationship counselling and CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy), is a certified SYMBIS facilitator, and is certified in TPM (Transformation Prayer Minsitry). She lives in South Africa, has three grown children, and is married to her best friend – Richard.

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  1. How to get Comfortable Talking about Sex with your Spouse - Love More to Live | 13th May 21

    […] What Couples can Expect from Sex after 40 […]

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