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Sex and the Aging Process

Blame it on Charles Darwin and his theory of evolution. As we get older, our sex drive ebbs because, truthfully, it's no longer critical for the survival of the species. That's the responsibility of the younger generation.

For example, a man's testosterone levels typically max out in his late teens and then slowly decline, though he can expect his sexual appetite to stay relatively strong through his 60s [source: Mayo Clinic]. For women, sex drive peaks when the hormones progesterone, estrogen and testosterone are balanced, but typically declines when this balance is upset during the onset of perimenopause.

Menopause can be especially difficult on women's sex drive. It is the quintessential double jeopardy, since the production of estrogen -- a hormone that not only helps maintain a healthy libido but also healthy vaginal tissue -- tails off during menopause. That can result in painful intercourse, which isn't going to jump-start your sex drive. Consider lubricating creams or gels.

Men don't get a free ride through their "mid-life" speed bump, either. In addition to testosterone levels dropping, aging men must be aware of potential prostate issues and possible endocrine problems [source: Nippoldt]. Obviously, there can be major issues such as cardiovascular health to consider as well.

The specter of arthritis and joint pain for aging partners also makes traditional lovemaking less attractive. Experts recommend exploring new positions to keep the fun and adventure alive in bed

But did you know that aging isn't the only physical issue that affects our libido? Lack of exercise plays a part, too.

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