Many people feel more comfortable thinking that folks stop being sexual when they get old. As we grow older, the age of “old” miraculously moves up, but few will argue that the 80′s is not old. Well, maybe Hugh Hefner will, but let us not base anything on that a man who collects and flaunts girlfriends younger than his grandchildren.
Eighty is something of an enigmatic age, because each and every individual that reaches this milestone has beat the odds: they have outlived the statistics. Those who are healthy enough to reach their ninth decade in relatively good health should have no reason to have lost their sexual desire.
When are Oldies Sexually Inactive
Research from the University of Chicago (National Social Life, Health and Aging Project, 2007) on sex in old age showed that sexually inactive oldies are not inactive because of lack of desire or drive, but rather because either they have health conditions that prevent sexual activity or they have grown used to living without an intimate partner and sex.
The significance of this is that when these conditions don’t exist, there is no reason why a person’s normal sex drive would continue throughout their 80′s and beyond.
Some of the more common conditions that discourage people in their 80′s, and even younger, from sex include medications that decrease the libido, pain and problems with mobility. Women may lose interest in sex after menopause due to vaginal dryness and the resultant pain during intercourse, but this is completely recoverable with hormones or consistent use of lubricant. Other conditions that may be sex exterminators in old age are obesity, diabetes, high blood pressure, chronic smoking and mental health problems.
The Demographic Problem
One problem that cannot be denied is that women in their 80′s are more often than not partner-free. Although more boy babies are born than girls, at every age males die in greater numbers than females. The longevity difference becomes extreme by the 9th decade. In an American study of people beyond age 70, only 35% of men who were divorced, widowed or single reported having trouble finding sexual partners whereas 70% of women struggled.
According to the United Nations Population Division (2007), globally, after age 80, there are 80% more women alive than men. This ration is higher in richer countries than in poorer ones. That means that there are 56 men for every 100 women, which is a whole lot of women who won’t be enjoying romance with a male, unless they are willing to share.
Do I Need a Partner?
If it wasn’t clear by now, then it should be one of those bits of wisdom earned by experience: sex with a partner may be many great things, but it is not the only way to be sexual. Older women, in small but growing numbers, are beginning to overcome the sexually repressive messages of their childhood and seeking out sexual outlets and expression. For some it is the ability to fantasize and enjoy erotic thoughts and material; for others its a boyfriend or some form of physical relationship that doesn’t demand the complications of commitment. For the really insightful, its those funky new vibrators that are now so accessible, unlike they were when these women were supposed to be hitting their sexual peaks in the revolutionary 60′s and 70′s.