Does sexual desire really end with age?

Claudia and Luis met very young. They knew immediately that they were made for each other. Their beginning was an outburst, they couldn’t stop thinking about the other, idealizing him, and their bodies became excited just by rubbing against each other. They needed to make love frequently.

They have spent a lifetime together. Although there have been some health problems, they are basically well maintained and self-managed. They spend some time at the day center in their neighborhood, go for a walk and share the household chores. From time to time, they take care of their grandchildren. And they still attract each other! Now in a different way, enjoying their affection and their bodies. It is a love of companions, of being with the one you love and enjoying it.

Sexuality and sensuality are differential and inclusive aspects of the human sexual act. Present throughout life, you learn and shape yourself towards the pleasure of everyday life, of the body, of humor and mutual enjoyment, of the love of partners.

Older people basically have the same needs to obtain pleasure and well-being than children, adolescents, young people and adults, and although they tend to be worse covered, especially in those who live institutionalized, they do not disappear with age.

Remaining sexual during the aging process should be considered a fundamental right and a significant predictor of quality of life.

The way in which each person feels and expresses themselves as a woman or as a man is a biographical event that lasts a lifetimeIt is your sexuality.

The expression of this fact aimed at obtaining pleasure, with the participation of the body through the senses, is its sensuality, which feeds on desires and abilities to attract someone, its eroticism, and manifests itself in innumerable behaviors, sometimes shared and others alone, his love affair.

Pleasure does not diminish with age

Most older adults remain sexually active, interest in sex and pleasure do not diminish with age.

Although age, by itself, is not a reason to change sexual practices that have been enjoyed throughout life, adaptations may need to be made, where appropriate, to certain physical limitations and the effects of illness or medication.


These changes will be less pronounced and the associated sensual erotica less affected when one has been sexually active. Imagination, sensory stimulation and other environmental aids can increase receptivity to pleasure and encounter.

Inquiring into these external aids we have collected in erotic shops regarding the most frequent needs raised by older people.

Among men, aspects related to erection are the most consulted, from topical creams to penile harnesses. Among women, aspects related to lubrication and friction in coital relationships and erotic stimulators such as perfumes, lingerie, massagers and toys.

However, it is necessary to consider that there are adults who choose not to participate in sexual activities, and that is also normal.

The effect of being widowed

The psychological and social factors that affect sexuality as one ages are very important. In many cultures, sex is linked to youth and older people may feel less desirable, which can negatively affect their self-esteem which, in turn, may impact their sexual performance.

For example, Widowhood has numerous implications in terms of emotional and sexual health, as people who have been in a relationship for most of their lives may not know how to manage their sexual feelings in the long term.

Couple holding hands.

According to the information obtained among the students of the University of the Elderly (UCLM, Albacete 2020), sexuality is a very important component for their well-being (93%), and although the practice of genital sexual activities, such as sexual intercourse, decreases , keep sexual desire active (71%) and enjoy affection and erotica (69%).

What was an intense, passionate, genitalized, expectant love under the effect of dopamine, is now a love of companions, of being with someone you love and enjoying it, with great involvement of the senses and emotions, mediated by neurotransmitters (serotonin and oxytocin) whose effects are calmer.

Disinhibition and delivery to pleasure

These changes can be reflected in emotional openness during sexual practices (91%), disinhibition and dedication to pleasure during relationships (7%) and satisfaction with their mood after sexual activity (9%).

Taking into account gender, differences are found in their self-perception, for example, regarding the intensity of sexual arousal (54% men / 45% women) or the balance between what is given and received (63% men / 36% women).

Adult couple kissing.

The desire for pleasures is maintained and expanded throughout life. We must not forget that, if we are not old already, we will all be old in a few years and that we will want what we all want: enjoyment, dignity, privacy and the attentive care of a person, without intrusive interference.

*Marta Nieto Lopez and Rigoberto López Honrubia are professors in the Department of Psychology at the University of Castilla-La Mancha,

*This article was originally published on The Conversation and is published on BBC Mundo under a Creative Commons license. You can read the original version here.

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