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Aging and Sex


When Boys Reach Sexual Peak

In terms of problems, impotence and failure to achieve orgasm as well as failure to find suitable partners are important sources of frustration. These studies have led to the realization — now generally accepted among psychologists and sex therapists—that sexual interest and the need for sexual contact continue throughout the life cycle, although patterns differ somewhat for women and men.

Differences in sexual patterns between males and females are found throughout the life cycle. While capacity for erection in males begins while they are still in the womb, reproductive ability (i.e., the production of semen) begins at about age 13, but may not start until the boy is 16 years of age. As this suggests, there is considerable normal variation among males, as well as females, in the onset of various changes in sexuality.

Boys reach the height of their sexual functioning at about age 18, followed by a slow drop in their capacity for erection and ejaculation from that point on. The drop in male steroid hormones only becomes measurable by about age 30. With declining hormonal production, there is a slow decline in the speed of physiological responsiveness and a lengthening of the refractory period — the time needed after ejaculation for the penis to again be able to achieve an erection.

By age 40, most men begin to experience a decrease in physiological responsiveness, sexual arousability and functioning. There continues to be a gradual decline through the 50's. Although there is wide variability, at this point males generally are only half as sexually active as they were at the peak of their capacity in their late teens and early twenties.

During the late 40s and increasing gradually thereafter, the urgency of sexual interest declines, erection is less frequent and more difficult to sustain, the turgidity of the erection diminishes, ejaculation is less forceful, and refractory time is lengthened.

After age 40, many men begin to experience periodic inability to achieve an erection and the frequency of this incapacity increases over time and becomes quite common by the 60s. However, although by the 60s all of the changes noted above are quite noticeable in almost all men, the pleasure they derive from sex may not be significantly affected.


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