Men start to experience some definite changes in their sexuality as they approach middle age, although this is not as obvious and does not occur at such a predictable time as the female menopause. Testosterone production continues to decline, and the testes become smaller. By age 40, most men begin to notice a decrease in their sexual responsiveness and functioning. There is considerable variability, but at this life stage males are, on average, only half as sexually active as they were at their sexual peak 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, erections are less firm, ejaculation is less forceful, and less semen is released. After age 40, many men begin to experience periodic inability to achieve an erection. There continues to be a gradual decline through the 50s. By their fifth decade, one in five men suffers from erectile dysfunction (the inability to achieve or sustain an erection). Sometimes, lowered sex drive or performance is due to the stresses of a demanding career and the other responsibilities of mid-life, such as putting children through higher education.
A somewhat reduced sex drive and performance ability, however, is often amply made up for by sexual experience and confidence, and a technique much more refined and satisfying to the partner than in a man’s early adulthood. Men and their partners may find that the sexual experience has widened to include new aspects of sensuality and intimacy, and is less narrowly focused on penetration and orgasm.