Dr. Stephen Petteruti offers solutions to the decrease in sexual passion that happens in most longterm marriages.
It’s been said that if you put a quarter under the mattress every time you make love from your wedding night until your first anniversary, and then remove one every time you make love thereafter that you would never run out of quarters.
The reduction in erotic zeal and passion that normally occurs over the course of a marriage can be a point of consternation for many couples.
Are we falling out of love? Does he or she still love me as much as they once did? Am I still attractive to my partner? Have they become interested in someone else? What are other couples doing?
These thoughts can begin to creep into your brain as the frequency between intimate moments decreases. Often with the arrival of the first child, sexual activity can decrease further.
So what is normal?
From a purely biological standpoint, it is normal to grow to sexual maturity, reproduce, and then die. I don’t know about you, but if that’s normal I’m all for being abnormal.
I have observed over my 25 years of practice that the happiest couples are those who’ve maintained a mutually satisfying level of physical intimacy. The type and frequency of intimacy varies greatly.
The majority of couples I’ve interviewed that have been married for greater than five years will have sexual intercourse at the rate of 4 to 12 times per month.
There are those few outliers that have intercourse almost every day. They are rare. At the other end, there are those who have sex once per month or less often than that. This usually is a prelude to an asexual relationship. Such infrequency is difficult to maintain without losing sexual momentum entirely.
Since the marriage sexual lifespan varies based upon agent circumstance, I thought it would be helpful to organize it into different age brackets.
From married age until 35 years old
In this bracket, hormonal and physical vitality is at its prime. Difficulty with erections, vaginal lubrication, or other physical limitations are rarely present. Concerns about money and children can impose on sexual health.
I often hear couples express the opinion that sex should be spontaneous. In a life filled with childcare, money concerns, social and family responsibilities, waiting for a spontaneous rendezvous is just unrealistic. This falls under the heading of “failing to plan is planning to fail” and scheduling a “sex night” is an enormous asset. Think about it, anything that’s important in your life gets put on the calendar, the date gets circled, anticipation grows as the planned-for event draws closer. Why not give sex with your spouse the same status as a PTA meeting, or a round at the golf course?
Sex between 35 and 55
Much like an athlete who wants to stay in the game beyond his prime, now you must work on it more than ever. Proper eating and exercise will ensure physical vitality so you are ready for your big moment. In many cases, especially for women in this age range, hormonal balancing is necessary to to prevent or treat vaginal dryness and loss of sexual interest.
Men in this age range may experience their first moment of erectile failure. If managed with gentle consideration by your partner, this inevitable event need not create a psychic wound. If it is mishandled, one episode can turn into fear of erectile failure that can stymie intimacy.
You may find you will need the help of a competent physician skilled in sexual health and anti-aging medicine.
Even when hormonally and nutritionally optimized, sex in this age range is still different. Perhaps the intensity of life has diminished a bit, maybe the kids are older, therefore the need for pre-planning has less to do with time and space and more to do with physical capacity. You should prepare for your big night as you would approach a major athletic event. Too much food or alcohol can ruin “sex night.” Sure, when you were young it was dis-inhibiting to put on a buzz, but now it’s likely to weaken your erection, even with Viagra.
Sex drive is less spontaneous. Sometimes it requires foreplay to create desire. By starting the sex act, you become mentally engaged. When you were younger, the desire came first and the foreplay followed.
This goes back to the concept of planning. You should plan to have sex rather than waiting for the mood and desire to strike you. If you just get started, you will likely find the friction will lead to good results. A good lubricant should always be at the bedside. Even when hormonally optimized, women may have trouble achieving adequate lubrication.
For men, their memory of an erection pointing toward the ceiling may have to be adjusted to that of an erection more parallel to the floor. Even when hormonally optimized and with the use of enhancing medication, this less rigid style of erection could be the new normal. It does not signal a decreasing desire, just a change in physical ability.
Sex beyond 55
At this point in your life everything is slowing down. That would include the pace of your lovemaking. The arousal phase takes longer, foreplay needs to be extended, the climax of your sexual activity may not always end with an orgasm. Men and women in this age range will at times have a very satisfying sexual experience without achieving an orgasm. If you have maintained good physical and hormonal health up to this point, continued sexual performance should be expected.
I remember seeing a patient who was 83 years old and had stage four lung cancer. I had been administering advanced regenerative medicine including hormonal and nutritional optimization to him. When I asked him how his breathing was going, he told me “Doc, the only time I get short of breath is when I am making love to my wife…” I almost fell off my chair! At age 83 he was making love to his 81-year-old wife despite having stage four lung cancer.
This man was decidedly “abnormal,” in a very good way. I hope you will join me and we can all pursue healthy abnormality together.
To your best health,
Dr. Stephen Petteruti