You might not mind the side effects that come along with aging. It’s hard to argue with a little George Clooney salt-and-pepper action in your hair, financial stability (finally), and a peak in endurance performance (seriously, research found the pinnacle athleticism for guys who do ultratriathlons is 41).
And while your 40s aren’t exactly kind to your sex life, don’t start panicking just because you’ve started noticing some changes, or you’re nervous about the changes to come. A lot of men worry about the effects of aging, and can start feeling so anxious they actually cause more problems for themselves. Sure, sex in your 40s is different from sex in your 20s, but those differences really don’t need to be that big of a deal—in fact sometimes they can even be a good thing.
Here’s what you need to know to keep the sex hot and healthy in your 40s and beyond.
1. Get serious about your health
Medical issues can play a bigger role in your sex life as you get older. If you haven’t already, it’s time to get into a good routine with sleep, exercise, and healthy eating. It’s also important to stop smoking. A lot of men don’t realize inhaling cigs by the carton is a major cause of performance issues—and the effects can worsen the older you get.
You may also want to get your hormone levels checked if you start noticing any changes to your sex drive or energy levels. While you’re at the doctor’s office, make sure to talk to your doctor about possible sexual side effects of any medications you’re on. Medications for blood pressure, diabetes, even allergies can lead to erectile and orgasm problems.
2. Be careful about STIs
STI transmission rates for people in their 40s and older are on the rise. A lot of people are coming out of long-term relationships or marriages, and tend to forget the safe sex basics as they get back into the dating pool. Plus, STI transmission can be easier as you age. Your skin naturally starts to thin as you get older. You’re more susceptible to microtears, which can transmit infections. The advice here is easy: Don’t forget to wrap it up!
3. Don’t freak out about performance issues
As you get older, you’ll naturally experience more frequent performance issues. In particular, you may find it takes longer to get erect, and that your erections can sometimes subside in the middle of sex. It can take longer to orgasm, and you may also notice your refractory period (the time it takes you to get hard after having an orgasm) is longer. These types of changes are just a part of life. They don’t have to be a big deal, you just need to make some minor adaptations to the way you approach your sex life (more on this below). The key is not to freak out or start getting anxious. Those feelings tend to snowball, and create self-fulfilling prophecies.
4. Do your Kegels
One easy thing you can do to get more control over your erectile and orgasmic control is to start doing Kegels on a daily basis. If you want to keep her moaning, quit yours; this isn’t as ridiculous as you think—or just for women. Kegel exercises strengthen your PC muscles, which span from your pubic to tail bone, and are absolutely essential to erectile strength and stamina. The next time you’re urinating, try to cut off the flow of urine before your bladder is empty. You’ll notice a “pulling up” sensation. Those are your PC muscles. You can practice quick squeezes and releases, and longer holds. You can also check out the Minna Life KGoal Boost, a PC exerciser for men.
5. Revel in your foreplay skills
Most men in their 40s report they feel more confident with their foreplay skills after a few decades of experience tucked under their belts—or, rather, sheets. Foreplay is fun at any age, but it can get even more important as you and your partner get older. In general, you’ll both benefit because it gives you plenty of time to get in the mood, relax, feel more excited, and decrease the possibility of performance issues. You should also learn to switch back and forth from intercourse to foreplay. This is a great trick at any age because it helps take pressure off your penis. It’s a tease for you and your partner, and it’s a fun way of keeping things unexpected in the bedroom. Also check out the 10 moves she’s begging you to make during foreplay.
6. Use lube
I’m a lube evangelist. I wholeheartedly recommend lube usage at any age, but it starts to become more of a necessity in your 40s. A lot of women have a harder time getting wet. More foreplay can definitely help, but lube just makes the experience so much more enjoyable for you both. Toss out your drugstore brands and invest in some high-quality silicone lube like Pjur Original.
7. Keep sex spontaneous in long-term relationships
You tend to have a lot of responsibilities in your 40s—kids, jobs, car payments, mortgages. You might also be in a relationship with your partner going on 10 or 20 years, which means you’ve had sex thousands of times. So it’s more difficult to make the time, and for the sex to remain irresistible? That’s normal.
If you want to continue having the kind of nerve-tingling sex you want to tell all your buddies about, you have to make an active, ongoing effort to make time for intimacy and trying new things. Experiment with new sex positions. Come up with a new fantasy to play with. Take turns planning surprise date nights for each other.
8. Go a little crazy
There’s usually more trust in long-term relationships, so both of you may feel more comfortable exploring new territory with each other. Another great thing about being in your 40s is you have more resources at your fingertips (unlike when you ate Ramen five days a week in your 20s). Use these resources to help you continue exploring and investing in your sex life. Go away on sexy weekend getaways. Surprise your partner with some sexy lingerie. Buy a hot new sex toy. Hell, install a stripper pole in your master bedroom. Make your 20-year-old self proud—and a little jealous.
Vanessa Marin is a sex therapist. Check out her online orgasm course, Finishing School.