Think your sex life has a shelf life? Think again. It's true that sex after 60 is a whole different ball game than sex in your 20s, but it can be every bit as good—even better. The key is to keep an open mind and adjust your expectations as you age (try these 5 ways to make sex even hotter after 50).
"Toss out the old scripts about what sex includes, how it looks, how long it takes, or whether one or more partners experiences orgasm," says Melanie Davis, PhD, a nationally certified sexuality educator and creator of "Our Whole Lives: Sexuality Education for Older Adults," a series of sexuality workshops for adults over 50. "Sex is better after 60 if we accept change and adapt to it."
Here's what to know as you go into your golden years of lovemaking.
You won’t age out of sex.
Sex isn't like a carton of milk that goes sour after a certain date. In fact, sex is more like fine wine—it improves with age. "The presumption is that sex is for younger, fitter, and—according to what we see reflected in our media—more attractive people," Davis says. But a comprehensive national study of sexuality and health among older adults shows that most people want and need sex well past 60, and continue to have it often—even well into their 80s.
"You can be sexual as long as you want to be," says Lonnie Barbach, PhD, a clinical psychologist, author of The Pause: Positive Approaches to Menopause and Periomenopause, and co-founder of Happy Couple, an app designed to help couples grow closer. "It has nothing to do with how young you are; it has to do with your relationship and the person you're with." If you have a history of enjoying sex, there's no reason to believe that will suddenly change because you have grey hair and and AARP membership. (In fact, these 5 sex positions will boost your bond with your partner.)
Your definition of "good" sex may change.
Sex when you're young is sometimes frantic, explosive, and athletic. As your body slows down, sex can soften and change into more of a slow burn, but it can still be just as hot. "It's not about how often you have sex and it's not about how many positions you can be in. It's really about sexual pleasure, and your relationship and connection you have with your partner," says Barbach. When you're less concerned about your sex stats and more focused on good communication, you'll have just as much pleasure and passion as you did when you were young. It may just look different than it used to.
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You can get past physical problems.
By the time you're 60, your menopausal hot flashes and night sweats are likely over. That's a good thing, but it also means your hormone levels have bottomed out, which can make things a little drier down below. You may notice a dip in your sexual appetite, and it's common for men to have a harder time getting and keeping an erection.
These potential barriers to sex are normal in aging bodies, but there's no need to throw in the towel at the first sign of trouble. Talk to your doctor about treatments that can get you back in the business of getting busy. Taking care of yourself will go a long way toward lifting your libido, too. "Exercise and good nutrition can help a great deal, both physically and emotionally, to help older adults feel vigorous, healthy, and sexually interested," says Davis. (Stay active with Prevention's new 10-minute workouts and 10-minute meals from Fit in 10: Slim and Strong for Life.)
You may need more time to reach orgasm.
Your days of "the quickie" may be behind you, as both men and women tend to take longer to get aroused and orgasm as they age. "What once literally came easily takes more time and attention, and that's not a bad thing," says Davis. In fact, it can be more satisfying to go slowly and intentionally. You can get creative and find new ways to enjoy yourself or your partner. Sex becomes more about the journey and less about the destination.
Even couples with a fantastic sex life can benefit from taking time to tease out pleasure—especially if they're long-time partners. But communication is crucial. "That's the major thing that makes a difference between couples who have a good sex life and keep it going, and those who don't," says Barbach. "If you don't talk about it, you can't adapt."
You have more time to enjoy sex.
Retired? Nest empty? Go ahead and have that midday laundry room romp. You're freer to explore new times and locations for sex now that there are fewer demands on your schedule and people in your house. No more hushed sessions behind closed doors after the kids are in bed—sex can be where and when the mood strikes.
"You don't have to have sex just late at night," says Barbach. (One couple tried to have morning sex every day for a week, and here's what happened.) Another bonus: with a period permanently out of the picture, pregnancy scares are a thing of the past, and there are no more pills or diaphragms to mess with. And—if you're in a long-term monogamous partnership—there's no more fumbling with a condom in the heat of the moment. (Just remember that if there's any chance your partner could have an STD, condoms are still a must no matter your age.)
This article originally appeared on Prevention.com.