Sex After 50: Frequency, Drive, And Intimacy Past Midlife

Among Americans between the ages of 50-59, 69% of men and women report having a regular sex partner and 34% have sexual intercourse on a weekly basis.
split screen image featuring a bar graph depicting weekly sexual activity for those aged 50 and over (32% having partnered sex weekly, 28% masturbating weekly, 22% having oral sex weekly) on the left with a romantic photograph of a middle-aged couple leaning in for a kiss on the cheek on the right
Updated:November 2023

Our research has found that 69% of American men and women between the ages of 50 and 59 report having a regular sex partner, and 34% report having sexual intercourse on a weekly basis. [1]

Key Statistics To Know:

  • 34% of men and women between the ages of 50 and 59 report having sexual intercourse weekly. [1]
  • 69% of men and women between the ages of 50 and 59 report having a regular sexual partner. [1]
  • Among men aged 50 to 59 years old, 52% report “always” being able to get and keep an erection, 26% report “usually” being able to do so, and 20% report having some degree of erectile dysfunction. [1]
  • Among women aged 50 and over who reported having sexual activity in the past month, 33.1% reported experiencing difficulty with becoming sexually aroused and 26.4% reported difficulty with achieving orgasm. [3]
  • 62% of American men and women aged 50 to 59 report never discussing their sexual fantasies with anyone else. [1]
  • 16% of American men and women aged 50 to 59 report not having sexual fantasies, thoughts, or dreams. [1]
  • Among adults aged 55+ in the United States, most STI rates rose significantly nationwide over a decade, aside from HIV, which decreased very slightly. [6]

In this article, we’ll explore statistical data on sexuality after 50, including frequency, sex drive (for men and women), the most popular fantasies at midlife and beyond, and sexually transmitted diseases among those in their 50s.

Sex After 50 Frequency

bar graph depicting that among men and women aged 50 to 59, 32% engage in partnered sex weekly, 28% engage in masturbation weekly, and 22% engage in oral sex weekly
  • 34% of men and women between the ages of 50 and 59 report having sexual intercourse weekly. [1]
  • 52% of men and women age 50 and older report having sex within the past week. [1]
  • 69% of men and women between the ages of 50 and 59 report having a regular sexual partner. [1]
  • 58% of men and women aged 50+ feel that sex is “an essential element of a good relationship.” [1]
  • Among men and women aged 50 to 59, 28% report engaging in masturbation (self-stimulation) weekly. [1]
  • 22% of men and women aged 50 to 59 report engaging in oral sex (giving or receiving) weekly. [1]
  • 18% of men and women aged 50 to 59 report watching porn (either with a partner or alone) weekly. [1]
  • American adults in their 60s have sex an average of 20 times per year. [4]

While sexual frequency tends to reduce with age, a majority believe that sex is an important part of a romantic relationship.

Men’s Sex Drive At 50+ (Sexual Function And Behavior)

bar graph depicting that among men aged 50 to 59, 52% are always able to get and keep an erection and 26% report usually being able to get and keep an erection. Additionally, 20% of men in this age range report having some degree of erectile dysfunction
  • Among men aged 50 and over, 36% report being diagnosed with erectile dysfunction in 2022, though only 34% sought treatment. [1]
  • Among men aged 50 to 59 years old, 52% report “always” being able to get and keep an erection, 26% report “usually” being able to do so, and 20% report having some degree of erectile dysfunction. [1]
  • Among men aged 60 to 69, 40% report “always” being able to get and keep an erection, 28% report “usually” being able to do so, and 28% report having some degree of erectile dysfunction. [1]
  • Among men 70 and older, 53% report having some degree of erectile dysfunction, 31% report “usually” being able to get and keep an erection, and just 15% report “always” being able to do so. [1]
  • Among men aged 53 to 90 years old, several aspects relating to sexual function (e.g., sexual desire, ability to orgasm, overall ability) “decreased sharply by decade after 50 years of age.” [2]
  • In one survey of 3,045 men aged 50 and older who reported having sexual activity in the past year, 45.9% reported engaging in “frequent sexual intercourse” and 64.3% reported engaging in “frequent kissing, petting, or fondling.” [3]
  • Among men aged 50 and older, 13.5% report feeling concerned about their level of sexual desire. [3]
  • Among men aged 50 and older who reported having sexual activity in the past year, 13.7 reported feeling concerned about the frequency of their sexual activities. [3]

Erectile function tends to decrease with age, though age itself is just one factor.

In my previous work with men who have erectile issues, it is common to see lifestyle (diet and exercise), health conditions and treatments/medications, mental health, relationship problems, stress (especially financial), and past trauma affect erectile function.

While many assume that ED is simply part of aging, various treatments and therapies can help most men improve their experience.

Women’s Sex Drive After 50 (Sexual Function And Behavior)

donut graph depicting that 33.1% of women aged 50 and older who reported having sexual activity in the past month also reported experiencing difficulty becoming sexually aroused
  • In one survey of 3,834 women aged 50 and older who reported having sexual activity in the past year, 49.3% reported engaging in “frequent sexual intercourse” and 67.1% reported engaging in “frequent kissing, petting, or fondling.” [3]
  • Among women aged 50 and over who reported having sexual activity in the past month, 33.1% reported experiencing difficulty with becoming sexually aroused and 26.4% reported difficulty with achieving orgasm. [3]
  • Among women aged 50 and older who reported being sexually active, “frequent kissing, petting, or fondling” was associated with having a greater enjoyment of life. Frequent sexual intercourse, however, was not. [3]
  • 7.6% of women aged 50 and older report feeling concerned about their level of sexual desire. [3]
  • Among women aged 50 and older who reported having sexual activity in the past year, 8.2% reported feeling concerned about the frequency of their sexual activities. [3]

Just like men, women tend to experience more sexual issues with age, though with many of the same factors contributing — physical and mental health, relationship concerns, and lifestyle (diet and exercise).

Yet even when sex can be challenging, remaining physically intimate in some capacity plays a key role in satisfaction.

Sexual Fantasies After 50

donut graphic depicting that 62% of americans aged 50 to 59 report never discussing their sexual fantasies with anyone else
  • 62% of American men and women aged 50 to 59 report never discussing their sexual fantasies with anyone else. [1]
  • 16% of American men and women aged 50 to 59 report not having sexual fantasies, thoughts, or dreams. [1]
  • Among men and women between the ages of 40 and 70+ who report having sexual thoughts, fantasies, or dreams, the most common fantasies were (respondents could select more than one): [1]
    • Having sex with a stranger: 39%
    • Having a threesome or group sex: 29%
    • Sex with a celebrity: 23%
    • Sex in public: 17%
    • Sex with someone of the same sex: 13%
    • BDSM: 10%
    • Sex with a current spouse or partner: 4%
    • Sex with a former partner: 2%
    • Sex with an acquaintance: 1%

While sex therapists and researchers alike know that sharing fantasies can deepen a sexual relationship, a majority of those in this age bracket have kept their sexual fantasies to themselves.

Fear of judgment or rejection is a common reason, though many fantasies are quite common, and being vulnerable can typically enhance the sense of intimacy in a relationship.

Older populations were raised with more strict sexual norms, which may contribute to these stats.

STIs after 50

text graphic depicting that among men and women aged 55 and older in the united states, most sti rates have risen significantly over the course of a decade, except for hiv, which has declined very slightly
  • In recent years, sexually transmitted infections (STIs) have “dramatically increased” among older adults in the United States, particularly those who are divorced or widowed. [5]
  • Among adults aged 55+ in the United States, most STI rates rose significantly nationwide over a decade, aside from HIV, which decreased very slightly: [6]
    • Chlamydia: 17,029 in 2021 (5,274 in 2011)
    • Gonorrhea: 18,484 in 2021 (3,334 in 2011)
    • Syphilis: 4,318 in 2021 (692 in 2011)
    • HIV (diagnosis): 3,723 in 2021 (3,797 in 2011)

Though sexual health promotion is often aimed at younger populations, STIs don’t discriminate by age!

STI testing, monogamous relationships, and condoms are the best ways to protect against STI infection at any age.

Discussing STI status with a partner before becoming sexually intimate is generally recommended.

Sources: