If you watch most media, people over 40 don’t have sex. If you are over 65 and not in Cocoon, you don’t have sex. Instead, you are supposed to sit in side-by-side bathtubs in a field and watch the sun set for romance.
In reality, the majority of people over 65 believe that sexual activity is extremely or very important to a happy relationship. While we all experience certain physical changes as we age, most of us still have a healthy sex drive late into life. If either set of my grandparents are any indication, a good sex life goes right up to the very end!
As we age, everyone experiences bodily changes which can impact our sexual desire and performance.
For people with vaginas:
- Arthritis, especially Rheumatoid Arthritis, can cause joint pain and make it more painful to have sex.
- The vaginal walls will experience thinning which can increase dryness and cause pain during intercourse.
- The vaginal canal can narrow and shorten.
- Natural lubrication becomes thinner and less voluminous.
- Dryness and discomfort during sex becomes more frequent.
For people with penises:
- Diabetes and other chronic conditions can cause erectile dysfunction.
- Enlarged prostate can reduce the ability to get or maintain an erection.
- Orgasms can be less intense, and less semen is ejaculated.
- It can take longer to get an erection and longer to reach climax.
For all genders:
Chronic pain, especially lower back pain, can interfere with sexual desire and performance.
Diabetes can reduce sex drive and cause sexual performance issues.
Loss of mobility and flexibility will necessitate altering some of your sexual practices.
Heart disease can cause lessened blood flow to the genitals leading to performance issues.
Luckily, there are many ways to address these issues and adapt your sex life to keep up a happy and healthy connection with your partner(s).
Understanding how medication impacts your sex drive is important as you age. Many medications can cause vaginal dryness or erectile dysfunction. Most doctors receive little training about sexuality and none on sexuality in older adults. Your doctor may not know a medication causes sexual dysfunction or may not think it is important to talk to you about it.
Vaginal dryness needs more help than “just add lubrication.” Most people have an emotional reaction to increased vaginal dryness. Learning how to talk about this with your doctor or partner is important to getting the issue solved to satisfaction. For more information about dealing with vaginal dryness and a list of the more than 300 medications which can cause it, check out this link.
Medications can also cause erectile dysfunction (ED). If you begin experiencing ED after beginning a new medication or changing the dose of a medication, talk to your doctor about it. Erectile dysfunction drugs such as Viagra can be very helpful for many people with penises. If you want to take ED drugs, talk to your doctor about health concerns first. For people with normal blood pressure and certain medical conditions, taking ED drugs can be dangerous.
As you age, sometimes sex will require more preparation than when you were younger. If you have arthritis or chronic pain, taking medication prior to sex with an adequate time period for it to take effect can be helpful. If you have osteoarthritis, morning sex may be very painful while afternoon sex after your joints have warmed up and lubricated can be very pleasurable.
If you have developed a sensitive stomach or acid reflux, having sex prior to eating a meal may be more comfortable than afterward. If you experience low blood sugar, keep a snack like a granola bar or small chocolates next to the bed.
Gentle stretching can also help. If you experience leg cramps or back and leg stiffness, gently stretch prior to having sex. This can make sex more comfortable and help you avoid a painful Charley horse.
If you use a CPAP/BiPAP machine to sleep and plan on spending the night with a partner, make sure to pack it and set it up prior to sex. This will allow you to roll over and fall asleep comfortably afterward.
Personal Lubricant Is Your Friend!
Many people think that using personal lubricant is somehow a sign that you are not turned on/you are not turning on your partner. This is far from the truth! Lubricant makes sex feel better for everybody. Regardless of how aroused you or your partner(s) become, adding lubricant is always a great way to improve the feel for everyone involved.
For older people with vaginal dryness, adding lubrication to all types of sexual play can be extremely helpful in reducing the pain you feel during sex. Adding lubrication to fingers before stimulating each other is just the start. Try adding a lube shooter to your sex routine to help get personal lubricant into all the right spots.
Choose the right lubricant for the right activity. If you want to add a lubricant to reduce pain, increase your natural lubricant production, or help relax tight muscles, try adding a lube with CBD. Cannabidonal (CBD) is one of the compounds in marijuana. It IS NOT psychoactive. CBD has been studied and found to help reduce pain and increase natural lubrication in the vagina.
If you are planning on going between digital stimulation to oral sex, using a flavored lubricant safe for ingesting can be a great way to spice up your sex life. Lubricants like Intimate Earth are specifically formulated to be safe to be swallowed, taste good, and stay slick during sex.
If you are engaging in anal sex, using a hybrid lubricant or a water-based one designed for anal sex like Sliquid Sassy Booty Formula work better than standard water-based formulas. These lubricants are designed to stay slick and not break down as fast as water-based options.
Other Common Concerns
Many people, as they age, develop common concerns. These can include:
- Feeling embarrassed or concerned about being seen naked;
- Concern about bodily smells;
- Concerns about your ability to sexually function;
- Not knowing how to ask for what your want.
There are not many positive representations of older people as “sexy.” As your body changes you may find yourself looking in the mirror and wondering who that “old person” is looking back at you. Wrinkles, getting grey, losing your hair, and having parts sag that didn’t use to sag can all make you feel uncomfortable with the way you look.
One way to help with the emotional reactions to seeing yourself age is to change what you watch and read. There are healthy and sexy representations of older people. Finding social media accounts with attractive older people, looking at magazines which talk about and show sexy seniors enjoying intimate relationships, and reading erotica featuring older people can help you see yourself as sexy and desirable.
Communicate concerns to your partner(s). Insecurity about your looks is so common, it is safe to say your partner feels the same. Voicing your insecurity can become a bonding moment for both of you and make both of you more comfortable being seen naked.
If you are concerned about “smelling old”- usually described as a combination of Ben Gay, body order, and soup, changing your bath soap is a great first step. If you like scented body products, finding a soap or body wash you enjoy can help you feel more comfortable with how you smell. If you are using pain creams with a scent you do not like, explore other options. Newer creams like Valtoren and Aspercreme come in low or no scent options. Finally, what you eat can change body smells. Fragrant items like onions, cumin, and garlic can be exuded through the skin. Changing what you eat can also reduce the amount of scent coming through your skin.
If you are concerned about your sexual functioning, talking to your partner is the first step. If you are both enjoying the sex you are having, you may be worrying for nothing. Just because you don’t have the stamina you had at twenty-five does not mean your partner is missing that. In fact, as people age, they tend to report that sex improves!
If you still have concerns about your performance, talking to your doctor is the next step. Almost all people report conversations about sexual concerns are initiated by the patient. Don’t count on your doctor asking about your sex life. You need to take the initiative to talk to them about your sexual concerns and possible treatment options.
As you age, your needs and desires will change. This happens because hormones change, bodies change, and our psychological needs change. If you are in a long-term relationship and do not regularly talk about sexual needs, it can be difficult to bring up the topic. It can also be hard to bring up the topic with a new partner.
Take some time to figure out what you want to ask your partner for. Try writing out what you want to say or practicing it in private first. It can take time to find the right words and get comfortable saying them. The more you practice the easier it will be when you finally have the conversation.
Best Sex Positions for Seniors
Missionary is a great go-to for seniors. This position provides a lot of face-to face contact. Eye contact, kissing, and sexy talk can all help arouse your partner(s) and keep them aroused. It is low impact and is comfortable for most people. If you are on top and find holding yourself upright with fully extended arms, puts too much pressure on your wrists, hands or shoulders -try bending your arms and keep your weight on your forearms.
If the person on the bottom finds lying on their back puts too much stress on their back, try raising your knees to a 45-degree angle. Try raising one or both knees to find a comfortable position.
Standing Doggy Style
In this position, one partner stands at the foot of a bed or counter and bends forward to lie their upper body on the platform. The other person stands behind them. This position offers several benefits. The standing partner doing the penetrating does not have pressure on their knees and can use their legs to help with the thrusting instead of putting all the pressure on their hips. The person bent over can use the bed to support their upper body and bend their knees to reduce the stress on their legs and back.
This position provides a lot of stability for a standing position. For many standing or semi-standing positions, balance can be difficult as you age. This position allows both people to keep their feet on the floor and use the bed or counter to support their upper body.
This position is great for someone with hip issues or who uses a wheelchair. The person with hip or mobility issues sits in a chair with their feet on the floor. Their partner straddles them and sits on their lap facing them. The person on top can control the thrusting speed and depth of penetration.
This position provides a lot of eye contact and the ability to kiss and neck during sex. The person on the bottom can also stroke and touch their partner’s bottom and back.
This is a position where both people lie on the same side (left or right) with their knees slightly bent in the classic “Big spoon-little spoon” position. The penetrating partner enters from behind. This position allows the bed to support both partners full bodyweight. The person in the “little spoon” position has access to their chest and genitals so they or their partner can stimulate other body parts.
This position feels intimate and safe for many people. The cuddling and full body contact provide the warmth and connection so many people desire.
If the partner trying to penetrate is having difficulty, the partner in the “little spoon” position can help by leaning forward a bit or lifting their top leg to help accommodate their partner’s need for the right angle to enter them.
Add Positioning Furniture
As you age, muscle strength will decrease. Holding your legs over your head or pushing your hips up to meet your partner can become more difficult. Adding sex positioning furniture to your fun can make things much more comfortable.
Try adding a sex wedge to your collection. These firm pillows can be wedged under a partner’s hips and lower back to raise them up. A person can bend over the wedge to support their chest and upper body while in doggy or standing doggy position.
Adding a positioning sling is also an option. A positioning sling is comprised of a neck pillow, similar to the pillows people take on planes, and a set of straps. The straps have cuffs on them to connect to a person’s ankles. The straps then can be adjusted to hold up a person’s legs. This makes maintaining any position on your back with your knees in the air much more comfortable. These positioning slings are also great for reducing lower back pain during sex.
Add Sex Toys
Sex toys are not just for 20-somethings who are trying to be wild, they are for you too, seniors! In fact, sex toys become very helpful as you age. Viewing sex toys as additive rather than competitive in bed will help.
If you develop hand and wrist limitations or you just don’t have the same hand endurance than you did at 40, adding vibrators and blow job machines can help you extend your love making sessions. Additionally, as you age, you and your partner will need more stimulation for a longer time than you did when younger. Adding a sex toy to your routine can be very helpful.
The Doxy Massager Wand is a classic wand vibrator design. The handle is great for people with limited hand or shoulder mobility. It is wide enough to be held comfortably by people with arthritis. The longer-than-usual handle makes it better for bigger bodies and for couples who have a significant height difference. The Doxy also has a penile masturbator attachment. This attachment is very helpful if stimulating yourself or a partner with your hands is difficult.
If you have difficulty maintaining a full erection, adding a cock ring is a great first option before adding medication to your routine. Cock rings fit around the base of the penis and help keep blood in your erection, allowing a longer and stronger erection. Start with something like the Velv’or Rooster Jason Ring which is very adjustable and easy to use.
Try adding a suction toy for clitoral or nipple stimulation. These toys, like the Womanizer uses air pressure to suck small body parts. These toys can provide a unique sensation for people with clitoris who find them highly enjoyable. If the sensation is too intense for a clitoris, try them on a partner’s nipples.
Work on Your Kegels
As you age vaginal walls become less flexible. Additionally, the pelvic floor can weaken and lead to minor incontinence. Practicing clenching and releasing your Kegel muscles can help build the pelvic floor and make sex more comfortable.
There are several new options for exercising your Kegel muscles. New toys like the Elvie provides an insertable toy connected to an app on your phone. As you contract and relax your muscles the app tracks the length and strength of your contractions. You can use the app to follow a program to meet specific goals for duration and intensity of exercising these muscles.
If you are not a fan of app controlled toys, a more simple option is the Fun Factory Smartball Duo. This Kegel exerciser is remote controlled. You can control any vibrations with a small handheld remote. These vibrations can make doing your Kegel’s very pleasing.
Keep In Mind, Sex is More Than Penetration
Sex includes a lot of different types of stimulation. Penetrative sex is just one part of sexual intimacy.
Stimulating each other with your hands is underrated! As you age, you need more stimulation to become aroused as does your partner. Using your hands is a great way to initiate sex and get each other aroused before penetration. Check out our article on Fingering Techniques to Master for a detailed explanation of great options.
Hand jobs for people with penises can be a great way to help a partner become aroused and work them up toward climax. Make sure to add lubricant to your hands for manual stimulation. Lubricated hand jobs are more enjoyable for both parties.
Don’t forget about oral sex. Adding oral stimulation to your sexual play is enjoyable and very intimate. For many people, the idea of performing oral sex without dentures or a bridge can be a major mental hurdle to overcome. However, almost everyone who has experienced receiving oral sex from someone without their dentures or bridge report that it feels amazing!
Sex does not have to end at 40. In fact, for most people your sex life will continue to evolve and improve throughout your life. With some communication and adaptions your sex life can remain excellent for your entire life!
About the author
Rebecca Blanton, aka Auntie Vice, is a writer and kink educator. She holds a Ph.D. (abd) in Political Psychology and a BA in Psychology.
Their work focuses on gender, power, and kink//BDSM. She runs the award-winning blog LoveLettersToAUnicorn.com and has published several books, including The Big Workbook for Submissives, a finalist for the 2018 Golden Flogger Award. She has taught about kink and submission for the past seven years.
She regularly performs stand-up and storytelling. Prior to turning her attention to kink education and writing, she served as the Executive Director for the California Commission on the Status of Women and Girls and worked as a Senior Policy Analyst for the California Research Bureau.