The column is being written by Sexologist Prof (Dr) Saransh Jain. In today’s column, Dr Jain explains how your sex drive changes over the years.
You probably notice changes in your sex drive from day to day, brought on by several factors like your menstrual cycle, a frustrating spat with your partner, or exhaustion from working long hours. However, what you probably don’t detect so quickly is the way your libido changes as you get older. Sex drive often decreases with age. Of course, you won’t notice a dramatic difference in your libido as the calendar rolls past your 29th to your 30th birthday. But, over time, various factors cause a decline in your sex drive—like hormonal shifts, pregnancy, and increased family responsibilities. The drop generally becomes more pronounced after you hit the 40s.
What’s driving your sex drive?
Many factors drive your sex drive; some are biological and while others are psychological. These factors determine whether your sex drive is on full throttle or at a standstill at any age. Of course, stress is the biggest sex drive killer. Anxiety and depression can also drain your sexual desires. Unfortunately, many antidepressants that treat these mental health issues might have the side effect of inhibiting sex drive too.
Your feelings about your partner and your relationship can also affect desire. A strong relationship, and one that prioritizes sex, helps drive libido. Your lifestyle and healthy habits, like eating a balanced diet, working out regularly and getting enough rest, also influence your mood to have sex.
Hormones are another significant factor that drives your sex drive. Levels of sex hormones such as testosterone (yep, women produce this too, in small amounts), estrogen, and progesterone naturally start to dip as you move through the decades, which plays a crucial role in declining your sexual desire, arousal, and orgasm.
Sex Drive in Your 20s
Testosterone, a hormone that men need for sexual arousal, is typically high in their 20s, and so is your sex drive. But it’s also a time when you could be anxious about sex because of inexperience. That might be the reason why 8 per cent (and possibly more) of men in their 20s report erectile dysfunction (ED). The condition can happen because of a medical or mental health issue or even be a sign that you’re at risk for heart disease.
Like so many other bodily drives and functions, your sex drive when you’re 21 or 28 is typically pretty strong for a combination of reasons. For starters, your relationships may be fresh and new, and sexual desire is often most potent in new relationships. Plus, you’ve got biology on your side. “The biological drive to reproduce is in full force.
Sex Drive in Your 30s
Many men continue to have vigorous sex drive through these years, though testosterone slowly decreases around age 35. It typically goes down by about 1% per year, but it could be faster for some men. This could have some effect on your sex drive. Plus, for many men, the stress of work, family, and other commitments can affect how interested you are in sex.
If your craving for physical intimacy dips during your 30s, don’t be surprised. Firstly, testosterone is on the decline during this life stage. This dip can cause a natural decrease in sex drive. This is also usually a busy decade for women, full of career building, adulting, and parenting responsibilities. These can be exhausting times, and many women would rather catch up on sleep instead of playing dress-up for a night of sex.
Speaking of parenting, the 30s are a prime decade for babymaking. The hormone shifts that occur through each trimester and then during breastfeeding can also trigger a lack of desire. Add to that the crazy fatigue many new moms deal with. The passion they felt when they were baby-free is very different from their new mom’s libido.
Sex Drive in Your 40s and Above
For men, there’s no reason they shouldn’t continue to enjoy their sex life as they get older. ED does become more common this age, and erections may happen less often and may be less firm. But it’s not age itself that causes the problem as much as health problems that become more common with age, like heart disease, diabetes, high cholesterol, and obesity, and the drugs that treat them.
Hormonal changes can hit hard in this decade; as women enter perimenopause, the 5-10 year stretch before menopause sets in and your ovaries gradually stop producing estrogen. During perimenopause, hormonal dips are common. And those fluctuating hormones can affect your sex drive, mood, and even the sensation of sex and how it physically feels.
But it’s hardly all bad news. For many women, their 40s are a sexually liberating time of confidence and exploration. Kids may be older and more independent; careers are established. You know your body and what turns you on by now, and you’re more likely to speak up about the strokes and touches you crave to bring you to orgasm. And by the time menopause happens (the average age is 51), there’s another reason many women feel great sexually: no more birth control worries.
Ask your partner about their needs and desires, and talk about yours, too. Don’t be afraid to try new things as your bodies evolve and your stage of life changes. This can help keep you and your partner engaged and interested in sex. Be honest about your physical and emotional satisfaction. It might even be a good idea to set aside specific times to be intimate.