Like many aspects of sex, orgasms are always changing. You might have one night of passion that feels like an out-of-body experience. You might have another that is pleasant, but not necessarily powerful. And you might have another that is just humdrum. Should you worry?
Not necessarily. While it can be frustrating to see the intensity of orgasms wane, there are many reasons why it happens, and some of these problems have simple solutions. Let’s take a closer look.
Do orgasms become weaker as people age?
Sometimes, people notice that their orgasms are not as strong as they were when they were younger. That doesn’t mean the orgasms aren’t satisfying, just that they are different.
Hormones are often the culprit here. Sex hormone production slows down as we age, and that can change the way we experience sex. For example, a man’s testosterone levels start to decline about 1% each year once he reaches his 40s. (Some doctors call this andropause or male menopause.) He might become less interested in sex, moody, or fatigued. And it might diminish his orgasms, too.
At menopause, women’s estrogen levels decline sharply. In North America, the average age for menopause is 51. Estrogen contributes to vaginal and vulvar health. Without it, the vagina becomes dry and less flexible. Sex can become uncomfortable and less enjoyable. Lower levels of estrogen might also make the clitoris less sensitive to touch, and since many women’s orgasms depend on the clitoris, climax might be less satisfying.
Hormone therapy can help in some cases, but this step should only be taken with a doctor’s advice. Women with vaginal dryness might consider a lubricant or moisturizer to reduce friction and discomfort during penetration.
In contrast, aging could also be good for orgasms. Some older couples find that they enjoy sex more because they have more privacy when the kids are grown and out of the house. They might relax more without the fear of unplanned pregnancy. (Keep in mind that the risk for sexually transmitted infections is present at any age. Always use condoms to reduce this risk, if this is a concern for you.)
How about the pelvic floor?
Sometimes, the pelvic floor is the reason behind lackluster orgasms. The pelvic floor has been compared to a hammock or a trampoline that helps your pelvic organs stay put. This muscle group can weaken after surgery, childbirth, and weight gain. It may also happen in people with diabetes or inflammatory bowel disease.
Kegel exercises were developed to tone the pelvic floor, and some people claim their orgasms improve, too.
Can birth control affect orgasms?
Some birth control methods, such as condoms and oral contraceptives, are thought to reduce orgasm intensity. Your healthcare provider of family planning clinic can help you determine which method of birth control is a better fit for you.
When to see a doctor
If you’ve noticed that your orgasms aren’t what they used to be, and you can’t figure out why, don’t hesitate to give your doctor a call. He or she can give you a complete checkup to rule out any health concerns that could affect your sexuality. You might also consider seeing a counselor or sex therapist – alone or with your partner – who can help you address any emotional or psychological issues that could be interfering with orgasms.
At the same time, remember that while good orgasms are a worthwhile goal, a positive sexual experience has several components. Intimacy with your partner, cuddling, kissing, and bonding can be just as important and exciting.
Continence Foundation of Australia
“Pelvic floor muscles”
International Society for Sexual Medicine
“What are Kegel exercises and what sexual health benefits might they have?”
“What is vulvar and vaginal atrophy (VVA)?”
The North American Menopause Society
“Decreased Response and Pleasure”
“It's harder for him to orgasm with condoms, so what do I do?”
(Updated: January 27, 2014)
“'I Never Orgasmed Until I Quit The Pill And Got An IUD'”