Back in the game, part II

sex education third windYesterday I wrote about women’s second sexual wind in mid and later life, and today the focus is on men. The assumptions that exist in our popular culture about male sexuality during the aging process is not a particularly rosy picture. Popular opinion seems to hold that good sex for men requires a strong, firm, long-lasting erection, and that this becomes less accessible after a certain age (unless aided by a certain blue pill). It’s a depressing picture, and not one that men need to buy into. This lesson plan expands on the idea of what male sexuality could and should be to allow men to define what they think about their sexuality and sexual connections rather than relying on popular culture.


Men & Sexuality at Mid & Later Life
Used with permission from Katherine Anne Forsythe, MSW

Participants will:

  1. Identify the sources of messages about male sexuality and the impact of those messages on sexual attitudes, values, and behaviors as men age.
  2. Review basic male anatomy, noting the impact of aging on physiological responses.
  3. Review the key facts regarding changes in male sexuality at midlife and beyond.
  4. Evaluate the idea of “Good-Enough Sex” proposed by Metz and McCarthy.
  5. Critique an article, “Why I’d Rather Sleep with an Old Guy.”

Our culture promotes sex and physical prowess as belonging only to the young. Social stereotypes discourage a positive attitude toward sexuality as men age. Many men fear loss of potency and ability to “satisfy” a partner. Some men find new drug remedies helpful, but often sexual problems are more about expectations and relationships than about physical issues. This lesson examines the physical changes of aging and encourages men to examine old sexual scripts and to determine if new expectations are in order. It recommends guidelines for sex in the later years and evaluates the concept of “Good-Enough Sex.”

In a culture where open conversations about sexuality have been historically rare, older adults may need the additional support that this lesson plan offers through guided activities, increased anatomical and physiological information, and engaging discussion questions.

The prompt to consider “good-enough sex” is hardly one that should be restricted to older adults, though. We could all benefit from that one.