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Father Time is an asshole. He causes wrinkles and pains.
He even messes with your orgasms, according to Darius Paduch, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of urology and reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Here’s a look into how aging affects the Big O, and the best ways to keep your pleasure at its pinnacle for decades to come.
You Have More Distractions
When you had sex in college, you were 100 percent focused on the hot coed in your bed.
But maintaining that kind of focus is tougher in middle age when you’ve got extra distractions like your job, family, and kids, says Darius Paduch, M.D., Ph.D., an associate professor of urology and reproductive medicine at Weill Cornell Medicine.
Your brain plays a critical role in your journey to orgasm. To reach climax, you’ll need to activate several brain regions, says Dr. Paduch, but that’s hard to accomplish if your mind is elsewhere.
When patients tell Dr. Paduch they don’t feel orgasms as strongly as they used to, he first tries to determine whether they’re just preoccupied.
“The perception of orgasm and the quality of orgasm can be affected by our environment,” he says.
To get out of your head, give your partner a massage—and ask her to return the favor, suggests Lisa Dawn Hamilton, Ph.D., an associate psychology professor at Canada’s Mount Allison University.
Focus on the sensations you feel as you’re touched and being touched.
“Massage helps to relax you, but also shifts your focus to your body—and hopefully away from the worries of your day,” says Hamilton.
You Never Snuggle
When you first met your partner, you couldn’t keep your hands off of her. But the longer you’re with your wife or girlfriend, the more comfortable you are around her.
That probably means less hugging and kissing on a daily basis. Basically, the honeymoon isn’t just over—it’s been over for years.
And that’s bad news for your orgasms: In a study in Archives of Sexual Behavior, older guys who sometimes, rarely, or never engaged in sexual touching were 2.4 times more likely to have trouble reaching orgasm then men who always hugged, kissed, and caressed their partners while getting busy.
These forms of touching increases your sense of intimacy and help reduce your inhibitions, the research suggests.
Your T May Be Low
“Testosterone is a huge modifier of your sensation of orgasm,” says Dr. Paduch. But the older you get, the more your levels fall, according to a study in Andrology.
A drop in T can reduce your sex drive. Research from the European Male Aging study suggests that low testosterone can lead to a decrease in sexual thoughts, fewer morning erections, and more erectile dysfunction.
And as your testosterone disappears, so does your semen.
Around age 45, men start shooting 1.48 percent less per year on average, according to research in Fertility and Sterility.
Other age-related changes in cells that influence sperm production may also play a role, the researchers say.
“Ejaculation volume can affect orgasm function in some men,” says Dr. Paduch.
Although it’s possible to have an O without ejaculating, squirting adds to the sensation. Your prostatic urethra distends to push out fluid, which feels pleasurable.
You Have a Dad Bod
Packing extra kilos? “Guys who are obese convert a lot of their testosterone to estradiol,” a form of the female hormone estrogen, says Dr. Paduch.
That’s not great for your arousal. A recent study in the Asian Journal of Andrology found that excess estradiol inhibits erections, possibly because it hinders relaxation of the smooth muscles in your penis.
Research from Rutgers University also suggests that obese people are less sexually satisfied, citing negative body image as one potential reason.
Bonus: Exercise produces endorphins, which can aid arousal.
You Have Other Health Issues
Orgasm troubles can often indicate problems elsewhere.
“Out of the men I see with abrupt changes in sexual function—either decreased sensation of orgasm or decreased sensitivity in the penis—I’ll diagnose one third with diabetes,” says Dr. Paduch.
Diabetes can damage nerves, reducing your ability to feel the friction of sex.
You could also be experiencing a decline in dopamine, a powerful brain chemical that plays a key role in orgasm sensations.
Older guys are more likely to have diseases like Parkinson’s, which are linked to decreases in dopamine.