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At what age does sex deflate?

By Jimmy Pimentel

HAVE you ever wondered how our bodies and body functions age? When does hearing begin to fade? What about my eyesight? When does my brain start its decline? More importantly to old geezers like me, when does sex drive begin to sputter and wind down? 

My old classmate and health consultant Constancio ‘Tancio’ de Leon has enlightened me a bit about ageing body parts and declining body functions. 

So, what about sex drive? 

Slow down, pare ko. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. 

To start with, Tancio says that different parts of our body age at different times. 

“We all accept that getting older is inevitable,” he explains. “And now leading clinicians have revealed the exact age when different body parts start to decline, most alarming being the brain and lungs.” 

Here is what he says further: 

French doctors have found that the quality of men’s sperm starts to deteriorate by 35, so that by the time a man is 45 a third of pregnancies end in miscarriage. 

Here, with the help of leading clinicians, Angela Epstein tells the Daily Mail the ages when different parts of the body start to lose their battle with time: 

BRAIN. Our brain starts ageing at age 20. As we get older the number of nerve  cells – or neurons – in the brain decrease. We start with around 100  billion, but in our 20s this number starts to decline. By 40, we could be losing up to 10,000 per day, affecting  memory, co-ordination and brain function. 

GUT. Our gut starts ageing at age 55. A healthy gut has a good balance between harmful  and ‘friendly’ bacteria. But levels of friendly bacteria in the gut drop significantly after 55, particularly in the large intestine, says Tom  MacDonald, professor of immunology at Barts And The London medical  school. As a result, we suffer from poor digestion and an increased risk  of gut disease. Constipation is more likely as we age, as the flow of digestive  juices from the stomach, liver, pancreas and small intestine slows  down. 

BREATS. Our breasts start ageing at age 35. By their mid-30s, women’s breasts start losing  tissue and fat,  reducing size and fullness. Sagging starts properly at 40 and the  areola (the area surrounding the nipple) can shrink considerably. 

BLADDER. Our bladder starts ageing at age 65. Loss of bladder control is more likely when you hit 65. Women are more vulnerable to bladder problems as, after the menopause, declining estrogen levels make tissues in the urethra – the  tube through which  urine passes – thinner and weaker, reducing bladder support. Bladder  capacity in an older adult generally is about half that of a younger  person – about two cups in a  30-year-old and one cup in a 70-year-old. 

LUNGS. Out lungs start ageing at age 20. Lung capacity slowly starts to  decrease from the  age of 20. By the age of 40, some people are already experiencing breathlessness. This is partly because the muscles and the rib cage which  control breathing  stiffen up. 

VOICE. Our voice tarts ageing at 65. Our voices become quieter and hoarser with age. The soft tissues in the voice box (larynx) weaken, affecting the pitch, loudness and quality of the voice. A woman’s voice may become huskier  and lower in pitch,  whereas a man’s might become thinner and higher. 

EYESIGHT.  Our eyes start ageing at 40. Eye glasses are the norm for many over-40s as failing eyesight kicks in – usually long-sightedness, affecting our  ability to see objects up close. 

HEART. Our heart starts ageing at  40. The heart pumps blood less  effectively around the body as we get older. This is because blood vessels become less elastic, while arteries can harden or become blocked because of fatty deposits forming on the  coronary arteries, caused by eating too much saturated fat. The blood supply to the heart is then reduced, resulting in painful angina. Men  over 45 and women over 55 are at greater risk of a heart attack. 

LIVER. Our liver starts ageing at 70. This is the only organ in the body  which seems to defy the aging process. 

KIDNEYS. Our kidneys start ageing at 50. With kidneys, the number of  filtering units  (nephrons) that remove waste from the bloodstream starts to reduce in  middle age. 

PROSTATE. Our prostate starts ageing at 50. The prostate often becomes enlarged with  age, leading to  problems such as increased need to urinate, says Professor Roger Kirby, director of the Prostate Centre in London. This is known as benign prostatic hyperplasia  and affects half of men over 50, but rarely those under 40. It occurs when the prostate absorbs large amounts of the male sex hormone testosterone, which increases the  growth of cells in the prostate. A normal prostate is the size of a  walnut, but the condition can increase this to the size of a tangerine. 

BONES.Our bones start ageing at 35. ”Throughout our life, old bone  is broken down  by cells called osteoclasts and replaced by bone-building cells called  osteoblasts, a process called bone turnover,” explains Robert Moots, professor of  rheumatology at Aintree University Hospital in Liverpool. Children’s  bone growth is rapid. The skeleton takes just two years to  renew itself completely. In adults, this can take 10 years. Until our mid-20s, bone density is still increasing. But at 35 bone loss begins as part of the natural ageing process. 

TEETH. Our teeth start ageing at 40. As we age, we produce less  saliva, which washes  away bacteria, so teeth and gums are more vulnerable to decay. Receding  gums, when tissue is lost from gums around the teeth, is common  in adults over 40. 

MUSCLES. Our muscles start ageing at 30. Muscle is constantly being built up and broken down, a process which is well balanced in young adults. However, by the time we’re 30, breakdown is greater than buildup, explains Professor Robert Moots. Once adults reach 40, they start to lose between 0.5 and 2 per cent of their muscle each year. Regular exercise can help prevent  this. 

HEARING. Our hearing starts ageing mid-50s. More than half of people over 60 lose  hearing because of their age, according to the Royal National  Institute for the Deaf. 

SKIN. Out skin starts ageing mid-20s.  The skin starts to age naturally in your  mid-20s. 

TASTE  AND SMELL. Our abilities to taste and smell start ageing at 60. We start out in life with about 10,000 taste buds scattered on the tongue. This number can halve later in life. After we turn 60, taste and smell gradually decline, partly as a result of the normal ageing process.

FERTILITY. Our fertility starts ageing at 35. Female fertility begins to decline after 35, as the number  and quality of eggs in the ovaries start to fall. The lining of the womb may become thinner, making it less likely for a fertilised egg to take, and also creating an environment hostile to sperm. 

HAIR. Our hair starts ageing at 30. Male hair loss usually begins in the 30s. Hair is made in tiny pouches just under the skin’s surface, known as follicles. A hair normally grows fromeach follicle for about three years, is then shed, and a new hair  grows. Most people  will have some gray hair by the age of 35. When we are young, our hair  is coloured by the pigments produced by cells in the hair follicle known as melanocytes. 

But my consultant Tancio adds cheekily: “Hi guys. The great news is that nothing is said to decline after you hit 80.” 

Tancio must be on the nose about that. I’m turning 80 very soon and my sex drive hasn’t diminished.



Constancio de Leon: He is chief operating officer of Health Solutions Corporation, a physician practice and medical management organization. Until June 2010 he was administrator of the Kidney Foundation of the Philippines. He retired from the Medical City as executive vice resident in July 1998.