There’s a term that sports announcers like to use when referring to a shooter’s hot streak – the heat check. The reference relates to the next shot that a shooter takes to test just how hot he/she is. I too have a “heat check”. It happens when I reach for my wife Angela under the covers to see if I can generate a physical reaction. An equipment check if you will. A good portion of the time, I am less interested in intimacy at the moment and more interested in the equipment appearing in good working order.
Virility is a major concern of men over 50. We are far more concerned with having strength, stamina, energy, and a strong sex drive than we are in the degradation of youthful appearance. The heat check, for me, is a way to gauge my virility. Lately, I find that recovery from vigorous workouts is taking a bit longer, my energy is down, and I think about sex far less than I ever have. And I’d be lying if I said that it wasn’t a concern. This is my new reality.
It’s a concern of many men but we just don’t talk about it. When men talk about sex, the conversation is full of half-truths and gross exaggerations. Rarely does the discussion center around issues or concerns. I had a recent conversation with a friend who shared some of the same concerns and described experiencing similar psychological and physiological changes. It was comforting to know that I wasn’t alone in the journey.
The saying is that men think about sex every 8 seconds. While that claim has never officially been proven or disproven, I can guarantee you that it is a lot. At least in our teens, 20’s and 30’s. My friend pointed out that if we had focused our thinking and directed our energy on other things rather than the thought and pursuit of sex, we might be brain surgeons or astrophysicists today.
When the fellas get together to talk about sports, their golf game, careers and family life, here’s what we are NOT talking about:
Andropause – the male version of menopause. Yes, there is such a thing. Also referred to as “aging male syndrome” (AMS), andropause happens roughly the same time that women experience menopause: somewhere between the ages of 35-70, but most commonly experienced in the early 50’s. In its simplest form, AMS is the decrease of the male hormone testosterone. Symptoms include a loss of energy, lower sex drive, decreasing strength and endurance, mood changes and erections that are less strong. All difficult things to discuss with your homie. I can imagine the conversation, “Hey Joe, how’s it hanging?” “These days it’s hanging low and a little depressed. How about you?” Crickets.
Erectile Dysfunction – While not a direct result of aging, impotence can come with age due to increase risk. It can be caused by mental, emotional, or physical factors. It can also be a side effect of certain medications or excessive drinking. Concerns about developing ED could lead a man to perform the occasional “heat check” on his wife. How do you even start a conversation about this with another dude? It’s easy actually. Just ask. “Yo, how’s your sex life these days?” And hope that he is completely honest with you. According to the National Institute of Health, 5% of 40 year-old men suffer from ED. So if you’ve just finished a full-court basketball game with the fellas, bring up the issues of ED, and they all say there is no issue…the shortest person on the court is lying.
Attachment – Here’s an interesting one. Apparently, as testosterone levels decrease and oxytocin levels stay the same, men tend to attach more to their partners after sex. Testosterone can drive sex and interest in sex while oxytocin (the love hormone) is responsible for bonding partners and children. A 2012 study that increased oxytocin in monogamous men found that they were attaching themselves more to their partners after sex. So the conversation after shooting hoops goes something like this, “Yo, want to grab a brew or something later?” “Naw man. I think I’m going to stay home and cuddle.” Crickets.
Recovery time – It used to be that the amount of time that you needed to recover for round two with your babe was about 15 minutes or so. That was in your 20’s. According to the Male Health Center, the “refractory period”, the time it takes to achieve another erection, can take 24 hours or more for men in their 50’s. But if you’re like me, you don’t even want to think about it until next weekend any way.
The Premie – A University of Chicago study showed that 31% of men in their 50’s experience premature ejaculation. There are two primary reasons for this: anxiety and penis-centered sex. Penis-centered sex puts more pressure on the male organ than it can handle. Actually, that sounds kind of fun, huh? Anxiety comes with concerns over performance. The pressure is daunting and can lead one to “fire one off” well before he or his partner is ready.
The possibility of interesting and helpful conversation exist if we would assiduously share our experiences and concerns with one another. One thing’s for sure, I’m not telling you mine unless you tell me your’s first.