I started writing about senior sex at age 61. I was in a loving, sexy relationship with the man (then 68) who would become my husband. Who knew that sex could be so good at our age? I went looking for books that reflected our experience -- that celebrated the joys of older-age sexuality while dealing candidly with the challenges. Dissatisfied with what I found, I decided to write my own.
Now, ten years and four senior sex books later -- one memoir, two self-help, and one anthology of erotica -- my mission is to help people age 50- to 80-plus find the information they seek for enriching their sex lives, partnered or solo. I find that the questions and attitudes that people bring to me fall into three camps:
1. Sex is wonderful now, despite the challenges of aging.
2. Sex has become problematic due to medical issues, lack of libido, communication problems, a stale relationship, or no relationship.
3. What sex life?
The truth is that the old ways that used to guarantee sexual pleasure may not work the way they used to. Libido retreats. Arousal takes longer. Erections may be undependable or absent. Orgasms may be elusive. Communicating with a partner, if we have one, can feel scary – how can we ask for what we need without making our mate feel inadequate or defensive? Many people give up on sex when it doesn’t happen easily anymore, and the longer we go without sex, the more difficult it is to resume.
Sometimes our sexual problems are caused by a medical issue or a medication. It’s crucial to get a sound diagnosis when our sexual responses have changed. This can be the first sign that we have a medical condition that must be treated or a medication that needs changing. We need to let our doctors know that our sexuality is important to us, and they need to run the tests to find out exactly what’s going on.
For every problem, there is a solution, with the right information, a willingness to be open about our needs and desires, and sometimes a workaround to discover what stimulates us now. Our brain is our major sex organ, not our genitals. We can explore different pleasure techniques that don’t require erections or even a partner. We can give our arousal a boost with well-chosen sex toys.
Here are some tips for putting the sizzle in your sex life:
• Schedule sex at least weekly with your partner or solo. The more frequently you have sex, the more easily you’ll be aroused.
• Exercise before sex to increase blood flow.
• Have sex in the daytime, when you’re not tired, and before a meal, not afterward.
• Take plenty of time for kissing and touching.
• Use lubricant for comfort and vibrators to speed up arousal.
• Ask your partner for what you want. If you don’t ask, the answer is no.
• Enjoy non-goal-oriented sensual touch to explore what feels good.
• If you’re unpartnered or in a relationship that is no longer sexual, give yourself sexual pleasure.
Here’s the bottom line: sex after 50 can be richly satisfying – but it takes a new understanding of how aging affects sexuality, along with creative strategies, new techniques, and a sense of humor!
Joan Price is the author of The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50: How to Maintain – or Regain! – a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life. Visit Joan’s zesty, award-winning blog,NakedAtOurAge.com, where she reviews sex toys from a senior perspective.