This series of articles seeks to bring attention to the many issues which constitute a safe, satisfying and pleasurable sex life. Our topics will range from orgasm to abstinence, masturbation, sex and aging, sexually transmitted diseases, emergency contraception, and so on. Sexual information should be public information. And we plan to cover both the safe and satisfying dimensions of sexual health. The first article in this series ran on May 16, the second on May 23, the third on May 30, the fourth on June 6, the fifth on June 13 and the sixth on June 20.
Young folks are often shocked that the old still engage merrily in sex. A man or woman can still have wonderful sex into their 70s, 80s, and 90s. In the United States, some studies indicate that 25-30 per cent of women in their 70s masturbate. But there are changes which take place and an awareness of these changes may allow one to enjoy sex without fear of the natural changes which occur. With men and women having a better understanding of these changes, sex can still be lusty and hearty as a couple grows old.
Most men do not know of their changing "Refractory Period" as they age. And women are not aware of this change in men either. The refractory period refers to that period of time between one's last ejaculation at orgasm and the next. In a young man in his late teens or early 20s, the refractory period can be as short as two-five minutes. They can have an ejaculation now and in five minutes time have yet another orgasm and ejaculation. Frequent bouts of sexual intercourse culminating in orgasm/ejaculations are therefore very common when one is young.
But as men age, the refractory period lengthens. In one's late 20s, the period maybe 15-30 minutes between orgasms. In one's 40s, the period is even longer and may be as long three to four hours. In one's 50s, the refractory period becomes even longer yet and may now be as long as ten-12 hours. And so it goes: in one's 60s, it could be as long as 12-24 hours.
Now this is not to be confused with getting an erection. Erections are about blood flow and in one's 50s, you'll be able to get another erection (especially if there is more direct physical stimulation of the penis ómore on this later) but having an another orgasm/ejaculation will have to wait a while.
Aging men confuse the natural physiological, biological phenomenon of lengthened refractory period with impotence and erectile dysfunction. They may then resort to the use of Vigara or Cialis or similar drugs but all these will do is provide for an erection; they will do nothing for decreasing the refractory period.
If men will recognise and accept as a normal part of aging this lengthening refractory period, they will be able to continue to enjoy sex with their partner, with an erection, and not fret too much about not having an orgasm soon after they have just had one.
What about women and their refractory period? Women do not have a refractory period. If they are able to have orgasms, women can go from one orgasm to another with minimum pause or no pause at all. And this is not affected by age.
They can have delight in orgasms throughout life. In fact women are desirous of even more sex as they approach middle age and later. And herein lies potential problems in a relationship based on misperceptions of what is happening with sexual desire as one ages.
The aging man experiencing a lengthened refractory period is less driven to wanting sexual release compared to when he was younger. A partner noticing this may misinterpret it as a lack of her attractiveness and a lack of her partner's specific sexual interest in her. And this leads to both of them pulling back from each other sexually.
Now here is another phenomenon which confounds couples as they age: As a young man, one can become sexually aroused by the mere sight of a female form. A photo of a bra can prompt an erection. So too the vibration of a bus. Just sitting in a taxi next to a woman (and not even touching) provokes an erection. But as one ages, these stimuli are not sufficient for arousal. And this too is part of natural physiological body changes as one ages.
After the age of 50, a man requires longer and more direct intense stimulation in order to achieve an erection and arrive