A Google search on “sex and women over 60” yields a whopping one billion+ search results.
Compared to my search several years ago, when I first wrote this article, these days I found a fair amount of results that provided helpful, truthful information.
Back then (only about 5 years ago), very few of the results on the first few pages led me to information that was helpful, or even based in fact.
On page one I saw an article by a so-called sexologist with this misinformation about older women:
“While young women can be sexually aroused through foreplay which includes touching, kissing, eroticism, role play, and clitoral stimulation, such is not the case as they age.”
This misguided man is saying outright that older women cannot be sexually aroused. That’s utter nonsense.
Most of the other articles within the first few pages of search results focused on women’s arousal problems with intercourse.
They advise that vaginal dryness is the culprit, so women must use various chemicals (like vaginal estrogen) to alleviate it.
Or worse yet, they must go on hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which comes with life-threatening risks.
One article focused on pain associated with intercourse for older women because they don’t naturally lubricate as easily as when they were younger.
Having that concern in their thoughts is really going to make women want to have sex, right?
In my experience, plenty of so-called foreplay (which is really just sex and it’s the kind of sex most women want anyway) takes care of the lubrication problem . . . without having to use chemical lubricants.
Even today, with more relevant and useful search results on “sex and women over 60″, misguided information is still prevalent.
With so little valid information available that’s focused on the actual physiology of women’s sexuality, and so much misinformation out there, it’s no wonder stereotypes persist.
Here’s the thing. A majority of women of all ages do not reach orgasm with heterosexual intercourse alone.
To make this a particular problem for older women reinforces so many unfortunate ageist stereotypes and can keep older women from even wanting to have sex.
Let’s take a look at what’s going on.
Dating Over 60, Women and Sex
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Mature Women, Sex and Relationships
My goal in writing this article is to help mature men in the dating scene better understand women’s sexuality, but plenty of women need help with this, too.
A surprising number of mature women are misinformed, or don’t really know how their bodies work and how to have an orgasm.
First, let’s establish that if you’re someone who is not interested in sex but you want a lasting, happy relationship, that’s fine, as long as you both agree.
If one does and one doesn’t, something’s got to give. You’ll need to discuss this and come to an understanding that makes you both happy.
If you’re someone who’s dating (at any age, really), and thinking about having sex with someone for the first time, put the brakes on if it’s early in the relationship.
For so many reasons, it’s wisest to wait a few months before diving into sex. Read more in my popular article, When To Make Love For the First Time.
Good reasons to stay sexually active
Women may feel a stigma about having sex later in life. Your children and other younger people are embarrassed by older people having sex.
But there are reasons to be sexually active, as described in a WebMD article:
“Just a few reasons to keep at it (and going solo counts): It boosts your immune system, burns calories, lowers blood pressure, helps you relax, eases pain, keeps your mind sharp, and may lessen the risk of heart attack and prostate cancer. It keeps you and your partner close. It just may help you live longer.”
So, now you’re in a relationship that is hopefully working well and includes physical intimacy, or the potential for it. Despite the stereotype that people over 60 are no longer interested in sex, you probably DO want a healthy sex life.
I read something in an article by psychotherapist Diana de Vegh, an 80 year old woman:
“There should be no age limits on the sensual, sexual life. Erotic energy is always age appropriate. It is a way of being in the world, a gala twist we add to our mundane routines. We flirt with the bus driver, wear a red slip under a black dress, let a perfect piece of chocolate melt tantalizingly on our tongue.
We’re in the final act. We can let go of so many things. Climbing and striving, for example. Body shaming, for another. Most of us have come to terms with gravity, as manifested in our somewhat altered body shapes. The self-doubt that can blight even our most intimate moments no longer prevails.”
Communicate, communicate, communicate
If sex is a must in your relationship, but things are not going well in that department, you also need to discuss things and come up with ways to satisfy both of you.
I know, I know. Sex can be very difficult to talk about. But, as mature adults, communicating our feelings should be easier than when we were younger and less experienced.
And dispel the notion that men don’t want to discuss it. Men who are looking for a truly lasting, loving relationship will want to know how to fulfill you sexually. If your partner is not receptive to a discussion about sex and intimacy, they’re probably not good relationship material.
Here’s something for both men and women to keep in mind, by gynecologist Dr. Jen Gunter
“We rarely talk openly about what’s required for a woman to have a good sexual experience, and so many heterosexual women learn the mechanics of sex and female orgasms from movies (most of which are written, directed and produced by … men). What I like to call the three-strokes-of-penetration-bite-your-lip-arch-the-back-and-moan routine.”
She goes on to say:
“Many years ago I decided to take back my body and claim my confidence. This was about both owning my years of education and accepting only a worthy male partner. A man truly interested in learning what I like.
I learned that a healthy conversation starts early on in the sexual encounter and may include ‘Tell me what’s working for you.’ Or even better: ‘Show me what you like.’
If those conversations were unnerving to my partner or not accepted, well, thank you, next.”
Be open and honest with your partner
Cosmo noted in his article, 7 Reasons Why Finding True Love Later in Life is Better:
“If we’re dating after fifty or sixty, it’s likely we’ve had one or more partnerships or marriages. This means we have a pretty good idea of what we want and don’t want in our potential partner.
To find a true, loving partner requires that you present yourself accurately to others. It’s essential to strip away that which doesn’t reflect who you truly are or worse, that which buries your true personality.
Depending on your previous relationships, you might be comfortable with co-dependent behaviors that mask your authentic self which in turn, sabotages your future relationships. If so, you must learn how to love yourself again.”
If we aren’t open and honest with ourselves and our partner now, at this age, when will we ever be?
Some Challenges for Women and Sex After 60
The same WebMD article notes some of the challenges that some women face with sex after 60. (The author also wrote about men’s challenges in the article):
“Sex hormones take a big dip. For women, menopause brings a plunge in estrogen and androgens. Your vaginal walls get thinner and drier. Changes in the brain and your blood flow switch things up, too.”
“The main sexual problems for women tend to be trouble getting to orgasm, lack of desire, and vaginal dryness. Your vagina shortens and narrows with age. It doesn’t moisten itself as easily as before. This can cause pain when you have sex.”
“Other medical conditions that can affect your sex life include weight gain, arthritis, chronic pain, bladder control problems, dementia, high blood pressure or cholesterol, side effects from meds, depression, and stroke. Also, surgery – especially in sexual areas – can affect your self-image and how you feel.”
The Thing About Women and Orgasms
Studies have shown that the majority of women don’t achieve orgasm through intercourse. The numbers vary depending on which study you look at.
The main reason is probably because our genitals are not spaced the same way for each one of us.
For most of us, direct clitoral stimulation is needed for orgasm.
That’s because, if the clitoris isn’t situated close enough to the vaginal opening to be stimulated enough during intercourse, then there won’t be an orgasm. Simple and perhaps obvious, right?
But unfortunately, this is not something women learn about as we’re growing up.
Especially if you’re a women over 50, it’s unlikely that you were taught that intercourse alone will probably not do it for you.
This lack of education has left so many of us thinking there’s something wrong with us.
Ignore Hollywood’s take on women’s sexual desires
Someone commenting on a New York Times article stated what could be at the heart of the problem:
“At every age, the fact that intercourse isn’t the path to orgasm for most women should be better emphasized. It’s a fluke of evolution that the act of procreation isn’t the best part of sex for the female. Movies and TV have also been disastrous for women and for men’s understanding of sex: on screen, people have intercourse with zero foreplay (and of course no birth control). That would almost always be very painful and unpleasant for the woman.
Worse, women are showing as having a great time in these encounters, and even having orgasms. What? I’ve been having sex for 35 years and have had my share of long-term boyfriend and brief flings, and not once was sex like that. Thankfully, the men knew it and didn’t slam me against the wall of a nightclub and try to penetrate me with no prelude. I’ve had a good sex life due to comfort in my own skin and choosing men who were actual adults.”
The pressure to have and give orgasms
Holly Parker, Ph.D. talked about the pressure to have and give orgasms, considering a 2017 study revealing that:
“5 percent of heterosexual men, roughly 12 percent of gay and bisexual men, 14 percent of lesbian women, and approximately 35 percent of heterosexual and bisexual women do NOT frequently experience an orgasm.”
For some people, she says:
“An orgasm is a sign they’re functioning normally. The implication is that if it doesn’t happen, then something must be amiss with them. Others view climaxing as a reassuring message to their partner, such as ‘You’re a talented lover who’s turning me on!’
Still, others treat an orgasm as an indication that they’ve done their part as a lover; if their partner didn’t climax, they assume it means they’ve failed. And when we treat orgasms as a way of showing that we’re normal, as a means to safeguard our partner’s feelings, or as a marker of our own sexual skill, we raise the stakes of an orgasm tremendously.”
This is probably why so many people fake it . . . something like 25 percent of men and 50 percent of women, according to a study a few years ago.
Be Careful with Alcohol: It Typically Dulls Sexual Response
Many people mix alcohol with sexual encounters because it lowers inhibitions and they believe it will elevate the experience.
Although little research has been done on women and sexual arousal, data suggests:
“Small amounts of alcohol seem to enhance arousal and decrease sexual inhibitions, but large amounts can suppress arousal and delay or prevent orgasm.”
The reasons why are complicated and conflicting.
While alcohol releases dopamine, which makes you feel good, at the same time, it slows the brain down and relaxes you.
In other words, according to Laurie Mintz, an emeritus professor of psychology at the University of Florida who focuses on human sexuality:
“It does make you think, ‘Oh, I feel hornier!’. But the irony is that, in fact, it’s a central nervous system depressant.”
Catalina Lawsin, a clinical psychologist who specializes in sexuality added:
“Alcohol can hinder the brain’s ability to process sexual stimuli and coordinate muscle contractions, which are central to the orgasmic response. While it may contribute to relaxation and inhibition reduction initially, excessive consumption can interfere with the intricate processes that lead to the intense pleasure and satisfaction of orgasm.”
Additionally, the loosening of inhibitions with alcohol can lead women to have sex before they’re really ready, or with someone they may end up regretting being with.
Vibrators Can Make All the Difference for Women
Sex expert Tracey Cox offers this advice:
“As our bodies change and medical conditions start to kick in, so do sex problems. But for every problem, there’s a solution, and that solution is often a sex toy. Today’s lightweight vibrators solve that issue in the press of a button. If you’re single or not having sex with your partner, they keep everything in good working order and you sexually satisfied. Masturbating regularly has enormous physical and emotional benefits as orgasms reduce anxiety and may help keep us from getting depressed.
It truly is a case of “use it or lose it” with our genitals after 40, let alone 60. Yet, there’s a whole generation of women in their 40s, 50s and over who missed the vibrator revolution and never caught up. If you are a woman over 50 who doesn’t own a vibrator, buying and using one will almost certainly guarantee you are more sexually satisfied than you are now. Sex toys are also an instant, effective, low effort way to add variety to a stale sex life.”
Dispelling the Myths and Stereotypes About Mature Women and Sex
Science (bolstered by conventional wisdom and popular culture) often support prevalent stereotypes. We’ve all been led to believe that men are always ready for (and thinking about) sex and that they have stronger sexual feelings than women.
Culture and lifestyle author Allie Volpe wrote about the myth of “complicated” female sexuality, and how researchers are rethinking how sex studies are conducted, partly because more women are now involved in this research:
“Because many influential studies on sex were performed only on men, it was assumed that the way desire manifested in men was also the way it presented in women.
Over the past few years, researchers have found that no one gender is more complex than the other when it comes to sexual urges. In fact, everyone is pretty sexually complicated.
The idea that female desire can wax and wane throughout life is frequently cited as part of what makes women’s sexuality ‘complicated’. It is true that many women experience a spike in desire during ovulation and in the first and second trimesters of pregnancy. And women’s sex drive can decrease during menopause. But men’s sex drive can fluctuate with age too. Stress, sleep deprivation, and depression can all cause dips in male libido.”
Things You May Not Know About Women and Sex After 60
An article at Prevention.com advises:
“Toss out the old scripts about what sex includes, how it looks, how long it takes, or whether one or more partners experiences orgasm. Sex is better after 60 if we accept change and adapt to it.”
Here are some things they say you should know:
You won’t age out of sex.
“The presumption is that sex is for younger, fitter, and—according to what we see reflected in our media—more attractive people. 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.”
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.”
You can get past physical problems.
“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.”
You may need more time to reach orgasm.
“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. In fact, it can be more satisfying to go slowly and intentionally.”
You have more time to enjoy sex.
“You’re (hopefully) 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.”
Grant Hilary Brenner, M.D. notes in an article about women’s sexual pleasure:
“A greater understanding of female sexuality sets the stage for future research by determining which behaviors and techniques actually lead to the greatest pleasure for women. It’s a profoundly important pursuit, one with implications for cultural change reaching beyond individual pleasure to challenge and destabilize norms.
There is more and more known every day about the neuroscience of sexuality, and more information in mass-market materials, including popular books and other sources, about sexual needs and techniques, but empirical data investigating the finer details of women’s sexual experiences is in short supply.”
As recently as about 15 years ago, many believed the clitoris was a surface structure only. Brenner stated:
“The clitoris is actually quite extensive, connecting with substantial erectile tissue which extends back into the pelvis in a wishbone shape, encircling the vagina.”
A study of over a thousand U.S. women aged 18 to 95 went beyond the usual focus to include inquiry into genital touch. Researchers were able to go deep into detail by using prior work from OMGYes.com (an impressive research organization that lets you “explore the latest science about what feels good and why”.)
Brenner related the findings:
“Nearly 40 percent of women reported needing clitoral stimulation to orgasm during intercourse, and about the same percent reported that even if they did not need clitoral stimulation to orgasm, it made the experience more pleasurable. Almost 20 percent found vaginal penetration alone sufficient for orgasm. The remaining women reported not having an orgasm during intercourse at all or described alternative patterns, such as stimulation before intercourse, orgasm after intercourse by oral sex, and so on.”
What Do Women Over 60 Really Want and Need?
Laurie Mintz, Ph.D. noted in her book Becoming Cliterate and an enlightening Psychology Today article that there’s no ONE surefire method:
- While about 95 percent of women need clitoral stimulation to orgasm, either alone or paired with penetration, just what type of stimulation each women needs is unique, as every woman’s genital nerves are positioned a bit differently;
- It’s thus important to get to know how your genital nerves are positioned, by “taking matters into your own hands”;
- It’s then critical to tell a partner what type of stimulation you need, using great sexual communication.
And be sure to practice safe sex
For sure, women over 60 are not going to get pregnant, but there are still STDs, and the number of seniors contracting these diseases (chlamydia, genital warts or herpes, gonorrhea, hepatitis B, syphilis, and trichomoniasis, HIV, AIDS) is growing.
Use condoms until you’ve both been tested. Better yet, don’t have sex with someone until you’ve both been tested.
Be honest with each other about your past and current sexual relationships.