Older people, women rather more than men, still tend to be viewed as non-sexual beings by society. But this is simply untrue: although women go through some sexual changes as they age, they do not lose their desire or their ability for sexual expression.
Many women remain sexually active throughout their older years. According to one study, 33% of women 70 years of age and older report that they still masturbate, and 65% of married women in that age range say that they still have sexual intercourse with their spouses. In their later years, their working and child-rearing lives largely behind them, women may find that they have more time, and feel more relaxed, to enjoy romance and intimacy with their partner.
Various factors can limit sexual interest and capacity in older women. They may experience physical changes, illnesses, or emotional stress, such as that caused by the loss of a partner, that can lead to a decline in sexual interest and activity. Some women avoid sexual thoughts and activity because they have taken to heart the societal stereotypes of the older woman as asexual or sexually unattractive. As more women than men outlive their partners, many may struggle with emotional and physical loneliness. Counselling and support groups can be very helpful for coping with such issues.
Even when the desire and ability to have intercourse may has decreased, the need for touch and intimacy persists into very old age. Many women find that, as they get older, companionship, and nonsexual emotional and physical intimacy become as important as sexual intimacy with their partner – if not more so.