I’m 50 and losing my hair and libido – I miss being young

29 Jan 2024

"I’ve hit 50. My libido is shrinking, my hairline receding, my waistline thickening and frankly, I miss being young. My sons are in their late teenage years and preparing to leave home, while my parents need more care than ever. How do I enjoy this life stage? It doesn’t seem to have much going for it."

Paul, 50  

‘Our culture is particularly negative about ageing and conversely, glorifies youth,’ says Kenny (Image: Malte Mueller/ Getty)

Our culture is particularly negative about ageing and conversely, glorifies youth. One of the most crucial things to enjoy growing older – short of moving to another country where elders are respected, such as South Korea, Greece, India or indeed Uganda, where I was born – is acceptance. The person who exists, right here and now, is good enough. Rather than fighting ageing or trying to control it, accept it – and yourself – for what it is and who you are. 

That may feel easier said than done: many people fall into the trap of choosing to portray themselves in a certain way, in the hope that one day they will be good enough. But to connect and be loved, you need to be seen for who you are. 

Ageing, whether we start feeling invisible in society or notice our greying hairs, is a reminder of mortality. But we can also choose to see that we’re growing into wisdom. Age brings a self-awareness that often isn’t available to us when younger and an offer to express feelings to those we love, including our children, explaining, for example, that behind our anger might be fear or sadness. By doing this, we become more connected to our emotions, and to those we love. 

Many men need to grieve the life stage that has passed, in order to enjoy midlife. It’s often a time for healing, too. It’s not all about age, more about life stage: you might be 80 or 50, but if your psyche is stuck at eight when you were first sent to boarding school, or 15 when you were surrounded by competing boys, or your first heartbreak at 22, that’s the stage you need to heal.


By allowing yourself  to feel the associated emotions, safe in the knowledge of the situation’s long past, you can consciously let go of the protective mechanisms you erected to look after younger you – and feel free to enjoy life today. 

There are hormonal and energetic changes that start in your thirties and can continue through your fifties, from a slow decline in testosterone for some men, to dropping oestrogen and progesterone for women. 

It’s very common to experience a declining libido. I’d recommend you try to identify the cause: are you feeling less attractive and sexual because of body changes? Is it stress-related? How do you feel about your partner, if you have one?

I’ve noticed many heterosexual men start seeing younger women as attractive during mid-life, blaming their partner rather than accepting changes in themselves. But midlife is a chance to increase intimacy within a partnership by sharing your evolution into a more mature man, regardless of libido. 

Parental caring duties frequently bring their own stress. I’d encourage you to talk about death with your elders: what would they like to happen? What music would they like played at their funerals? Death is a central part of life and normalising it across generations, including involving children, is healthy. If your parents are becoming less able and less sharp, make room to grieve that loss and celebrate what was, so you can be here and now with the love that is. 

It’s also a time to make peace with your parents over things that have been said and done but not forgiven. We can’t change others but we have absolute power to change our relationship to them. The key to setting ourselves free from past resentments – something I’ve learned myself – is that our parents couldn’t share with us what they didn’t have. They could only pass on their best. Some of us had parents living in survival mode, so before they deteriorate, it’s healthy to make peace and sit with them in life, beyond history, stories and trying to fix the past.


Your children are growing up and are about to enter the world as independent young men, a time that I wonder if you feel nostalgic towards. Do take time to explore your emotions: some parents feel resentment or jealousy towards their children, especially if they feel their kids have it easier than they did. 

Your sons might also remind you of a child that bullied you, or might not be the trophy child: it’s important to acknowledge any uncomfortable feelings and speak to other fathers, or trusted men, about what you’re experiencing. Suppressing feelings can be damaging and frequently leads to reacting, or changing and fixing for your own benefit. 


When I was about to leave home, some 40 years ago, I jostled for power with my father: for my mother’s allegiance and for the alpha role at home. This is very common in teenage boys and if you’re conscious of your sons doing this, you’ll be able to hold them safe as they evolve into independent adults, without joining the scrum. This may mean adjusting your behaviour, and communicating on a  new level, as adults together.

Instead of pushing to achieve, this is a time to grow organically: nature is on our side if we see what life is bringing us and how to respond to it. Connect with who you are and those around you and hopefully you’ll find it’s got a lot more on offer than you’re expecting.