Sex and Love
Making love after 50 years of age
I have written elsewhere on these pages about the shock of finding that suddenly you aren't able to get an erection on demand, or of losing it during sex.
There are several reasons why this can happen: in one's younger days, it's most likely to be because of performance anxiety or an unpleasant experience with sex - such as your parents coming in the front door while you're fucking your girlfriend in the living room.
In one's twenties or thirties it might be too much booze, stress or drugs which prevents your cock getting hard.
In one's forties, sexual boredom can cause your penis to wilt or prevent it from perking its head up in the first place: you've been with the same partner for a while, and the sexual attraction just isn't as exciting as it was in the early days of your relationship.
And then, at some point in your late forties or early fifties, you begin to sense that something more is at work.
During sex after fifty, your penis, far from being the ever-ready toy it once was, is now showing an unusual reluctance to perform, and your customary morning erections are occurring less often - as indeed, if you happen to be awake to monitor them - are your night-time erections.
You think nothing of it at first, and you may assume the problem will go away if you ignore it. But then you realize that your sexual desire is decreasing too, and you are actually becoming less interested in sex.
Worse yet, if you do try to make love, you aren't sure you will get hard, and your penis, which once would have been standing proud at the merest sniff of a vagina, is now likely to hang around softly, waiting for some assistance from your partner's mouth or hand before it begins to stiffen.
What do all these changes in male sexuality actually mean, and what implication do they have for your future as a man?
Despite her assurances that all is well, and you're a great lover, you begin to lose your sexual confidence, and worse, you begin to feel less of a man.
The pride you took in your erections and the reassuring sense of masculinity they provided is weakening, and you actually begin to think things will never be the same again.
Then, perhaps, you begin to avoid sex, and since you have less opportunity to experience either having your penis erect, or using it in intercourse, you lose even more confidence, until you have developed a whole range of strategies to avoid the possibility of sex, like going to bed long before or after your partner, or sleeping in another bedroom.
Oh dear. What's to be done?
Well, fortunately, quite a lot, but it does require some readjustment on your part.
First, sleeping with the young blonde girl you met in the yoga class isn't the answer, though it can be fun to do so.
The cliché of middle aged men trying to recapture their youth by sleeping around with much younger women is based in reality - such behavior can make a man feel young again, and the excitement of a new partner can provide enough stimulation to get you hard again.
But the cure is only temporary, and the side-effects can be difficult to deal with.
Sure, some sexual relationships remain faithful across the years and continue to work sexually, but there is a point where the strain of the man's old age and the woman's relative youthfulness are likely to cause some painful repercussions - in fact, I've witnessed such an event in my own family, where a man left his wife and married a woman 18 years younger than himself.
Was his happiness and the two children they had worth the later pain? It's not for me to say, but it's worth remembering that such endings are probably inevitable. It might be better to stay with your partner and work the problems through.
Second, you need to take some responsibility for your sexual health.
What that means in practice is seeing a good andrologist who can give you an effective screening for your hormonal profile, penile fitness, and testicular function.
If any of these are deficient, he should be able to prescribe a suitable hormone replacement therapy regime, which is often enough to get you back to full sexual functioning. But sometimes it isn't that simple.
One of my clients, a man of 45 who had been on hormone replacement therapy for several years after an early andropause (a word used to describe the drop in a man's hormone levels around mid-life), therapy which had until then been very successful, suddenly found he had lost interest in sex, and that he was unable to get an erection when his partner initiated sex.
We talked about this for some time until it became clear that there was a large emotional component in his sexual difficulties.
He felt his relationship was simply not providing him with enough sexual stimulation or excitement, and his body appeared to have just switched off sexually as a result.
Maybe a younger man would have been able to go on having sex for longer, but what was very clear here was that in the less hormonally active body of a forty-five year old man, the declining sexual tension between the partners was enough to put out the flames of his sexual fire.
The dilemma was, as he said, that he still loved his partner, and she was a great friend: but she just wasn't turning him on.
It's worth noting that she had gone through her own menopause not long before, and her own sex drive was very low: she was worried about not being sexy enough for him, and not being able to come when she masturbated or had sex.
Neither partner wants to initiate sex for fear of failure or lack of response on the part of the other; nothing is said about the problem, and sex gradually goes off the agenda. The good news, however, is that it doesn't have to be like that.
The bad news is that you have to take a conscious decision to work at getting aroused, and you need to accept that you may not be able to get hard, or that you or your partner or both may not come, or that you may not perform in the way you used to be able to, enjoying long periods of vaginal intercourse.
But the great news is that if you can accept this, the pressure to perform is off, and you can relax and enjoy the sensuous side of sex much more.
Sure, it's a different sexual experience to the horny urgency of a constantly stiff cock that you may have known when you were younger, but then many things change with age, and sexual performance is just one of them.
The best way to overcome lack of arousal is sensory touch - a process of mutual touching which focuses only on the pleasure of being caressed your partner, and not on the sexual arousal that may or may not go with it.
You can easily find out how to enjoy sensory touch by looking up "sensate focus" on the internet.
But you can also just enjoy massage, kissing, and cuddling - what's needed is a shared sense of intimacy and belonging that connects you with your partner at the heart level, not the genital level.
The interesting thing is that it is this sensory touch and intimate connection which produces sexual desire.
And if you, as the man, are having trouble getting an erection even when you feel desire, then I suggest you use Viagra to boost your erection.
There's simply no reason not to do so - it's one of the most useful pharmacological tools in the modern older man's sexual armory.
The third thing to keep in mind is that you may need the help of your partner's hand or mouth to get an erection.
The days when the prospect of sex alone is enough to make you hard may have gone, and you may need physical stimulation to get an erection sufficiently stiff to enjoy sex - even if you use Viagra.
(One wonderful way of getting hard is to have your partner rub her wet vulva long the length of your penis as you lie on the bed on your back.)
Lastly, your partner's arousal may depend on how aroused you are - and vice versa. So even if you both initially feel that a sense of sexual urgency is missing, see if you can conjure up your masculine desire to fuck her, using your fantasy, all your senses, and the power of your PC muscle to flex your penis while it is inside her.
As you sense your increasing urgency for the pleasure of her body, put your hands behind and underneath her (assuming you are in the missionary position) and place one of your palms under her heart and the other one lower down her back under her spine.
Imagine your sexual energy flowing up from your penis into her vagina, up her spine and into your arms and body, then down into your cock and so back into her vagina.
As she senses your increasing desire for her, her own energy will begin to move and grow, producing intense sexual energy which you can both enjoy and develop with the power of your intention and imagination.
This is a Tantric technique which comes in very handy for more mature lovers! You may find that her G-spot demands attention, in which case you should use some of the vaginal massage techniques.
The overall message is that sex after 50 does not have to be a disappointment, and it can in fact be very successful. For more information on how to make it great for both of you, read this book. If you're a man over 50 (or 40), it will supercharge you and your partner's sex lives.