Love Advice For Men In Midlife

A doctor offers men over age 50 some need-to-know information about sex. Get the details—and prepare to be surprised!

By Chelsea Kaplan

f you’re a man who is playing the dating game in midlife, you need to recognize that your experience will be slightly different than when you first began romancing members of the opposite sex. The times aren’t the only thing that have been a-changin’; you’ll find that your body, your ability to “perform” and even the attitudes of your female companions are different, too. For hints on how to ensure a healthy, sexually satisfying dating life, follow the advice of Art Hister, M.D., author of Midlife Man: A Not-So-Threatening Guide to Health and Sex for Man at His Peak and host of Canada’s popular “House Calls” radio program.

What changes in their bodies might many men over 50 notice?

The first thing most men will
Don’t be embarrassed to talk to your doctor about performance issues.
notice is that everything is lower and droops more than it used to. Chances are your waistline has expanded, and even if you work out regularly, there’s just not much you can do about it outside of having cosmetic surgery. While these changes in your physical appearance may make The first thing most men will notice is that everything is lower and droops more than it used to. Chances are your waistline has expanded, and even if you work out regularly, there’s just not much you can do about it outside of having cosmetic surgery. While these changes in your physical appearance may make

How is a man’s ability to perform sexually affected as he ages?

As men enter midlife, there is an increasing focus on ability to function. While some midlife men will see no difference from when they were younger, some will face occasional impotence or erectile dysfunction. Unfortunately, the images we see of midlife men’s sexual prowess in movies and on TV isn’t reality; erectile dysfunction is extremely commonplace for a midlife male. Those who have challenges with erectile function will notice they have particular challenges achieving or maintaining an erection when under pressure, so if you’re dating and/or in new relationship, you may very well encounter this kind of difficulty.

Happily, there are some good treatments nowadays thanks to medicines like Viagra and Levitra. Familiarize yourself with the medicines and their side effects by talking to your doctor. Don’t be embarrassed to do so; you won’t be the first that day, and you certainly won’t be the last.

If you’re having issues with erectile dysfunction and are in a new relationship that you see advancing to the physical level, you might consider getting some helpful medicine ahead of time and using it proactively. Though the topic may be tough to broach with your partner, even if you find it embarrassing, I highly recommend you address it directly with her. It’s amazing how understanding people are, especially when this topic is put directly on the table. It’s always hard for guys to talk about, but you’ll find you’ll get better response when you don’t act around it or pretend it’s not a problem.

Is there any truth to the idea that in midlife men go through “male menopause”?

The idea of “male menopause” or “andropause” is a controversial issue. The theory is that men go through as significant (though not as dramatic) a hormone shift as women once they enter midlife. For men, there is no abrupt change as there is for women, as men’s testosterone levels drop throughout
Forge a relationship that works on many levels, not just a sexual one.
their lifetimes (as opposed to women’s, whose hormones dramatically drop at one particular time in their lives). When a man’s testosterone level reaches a certain low, some researchers suggest there is an “andropause,” which can cause all of the aforementioned issues like erectile dysfunction, weight gain, etc. To address this issue, a lot of people believe in testosterone replacement therapy, but the jury is still out on whether this is more helpful than harmful. Certainly, a man who uses hormone replacement therapy will feel better in the short term — a better mood, perhaps better sexual function — but we’re not sure of the long-term effects, which can include things like an increased risk of prostate cancer.

Because of a midlife drop in testosterone, do men in midlife experience libido shifts as many midlife women do when they go through menopause?

Sometimes. Certainly, as testosterone drops, a man's libido may be reduced. Usually what happens for midlife men is that it may take a different amount of stimuli to get them aroused. As a result, for many midlife men, sex isn’t as primary a concern as it used to be. Sometimes, the success of their football team may be a greater source of joy than having a sexual encounter, believe it or not! Again, the good thing is that for women in midlife, sometimes cuddling and close companionship is more important than sex, too. This is why it is especially important for midlife singles to develop a relationship that is mutually satisfying on levels other than that of a sexual connection, especially if they want the relationship to last.

What STD info do midlife men need to know?

Know that nobody — regardless of their age — is immune to sexually transmitted diseases. We think of young, promiscuous people as having these afflictions, but there’s an increasing presence of them in people of middle age, even seniors. HPV especially so, and even gonorrhea, which you still see a lot of because new forms pop up all the time, as the disease has developed resistance to treatments. Don’t just trust that because someone is older they are completely free of STDs. Until you know your date’s sexual history very well, take all the precautions that you would tell your child to take.

What are the best pieces of advice you can give to single midlife men who want to have a healthy, active sex and dating life?

Relax about who you are and where you are in life! You’re worth dating if you have the confidence in yourself to think of the good things you’ll bring into the relationship. Remember—the women you’ll be dating are just as anxious as you are!

When it comes to sex, remember that it isn’t a mechanical act. You don’t have to try to mimic movies or TV; that’s not how real people have sex, especially as they get older. Sex involves another person, so it’s important to work on intimacy as much — if not more so — as on the mechanics. That’s what sex should be—an exchange of emotions. If you use sex as a way to build a relationship as opposed to just seeing it as a recreational activity, I promise you’ll have better sex.

Chelsea Kaplan is deputy editor of and regularly appears as a guest on XM Radio’s “Broadminded.” Her blog, “I’m Somebody’s Mother?” can be found at

For the women’s version of this article, read Sex Tips For Midlife Women.

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