Telling the truth about senior sex

November 2, 2013

This is the first in a sporadic series I’m calling “The emperor has no clothes.”

Let me start by saying that menopausal women who write about menopause are doing a great service. Some of the changes that arrived with “the change” were a surprise to me, and I thought I was pretty well-informed. So by no means am I dissing my sisters in menopause who write about it and who inform and educate women who are coming up next. Good work. Keep it up, sisters! In fact, I’ve provided some good reference links at the end of this post. So, all respect to all who help educate women in our cohort.

Once in a while, though, I disagree.senior_sexual_behavior_nasty_old_pe

There’s been a lot of writing in senior circles that claim we should be having the best sex of our lives at this age.

Seriously?  I want to smoke what they’re smoking, because this is not the world of most women past midlife. Or men. And yes, these are folks I know to be in tune with their sexuality.


tube-of-estrogen-creamWomen my age had the best sex of our lives when we didn’t have to slather ourselves with various hormones to get a response. I have a girlfriend who rubs testosterone cream on her arms and others who use various estrogen topicals several times a week just to be able to have sex without pain. Another must insert dilators to stretch things out. In the past, they were called “sex toys,” but now, they are required medical devices.  And with the aging Boomer cohort, lube companies have to be doing great. We may be having good sex now, but we had the BEST! SEX! OF OUR LIVES! when things developed naturally.

Women my age had the BEST! SEX! OF OUR LIVES! when our hormones raged like crazy and we were always horny and experimental. When hormones + romance = sexy times. I once made out with a guy for two hours. It wasn’t sex, but it was the one of the hottest dates of my life, and I was in my 40s. But at this age, our hormones don’t rage like that normally. Sure, our cohort may be having good sex now, but for most of the women in my circle, it’s not the best sex of our lives.

Women my age had the BEST! SEX! OF OUR LIVES! before medications we or our partners take robbed us of our natural sexual responses.sialis_viagra_levitra Meds for blood pressure issues, diabetes, depression, prostate cancer, hysterectomies–these all can and do affect sexual response. Sure, we make the best of it and learn ways around it. But is this BEST! SEX! OF OUR LIVES!? God, I hope not.

Women my age had the BEST! SEX! OF OUR LIVES! when our men could actually join in without having to take a blue, white or otherwise colored pill.  We joke today about the TV ads that say “if your erection lasts more than four hours, call your doctor.”  “Call ME,” my girlfriends and I laughed when we saw those ads. But the truth is that not a single one of us is interested in a four-hour erection, nor are our men. It might keep us up past our bedtime. Or worse, we might run out of lube.

Women –and men–our age had the BEST! SEX! OF OUR LIVES! when it came spontaneously and naturally. When it wasn’t “assisted.”

Yes, it’s absolutely true that you can be past menopause and have a great sex life. It’s true that you know what pleases you and can be much  more comfortable asking for it. But the “best sex of our lives?”  No. I may be past 60 but my memory’s still intact and I know what “the greatest sex of our lives” is.

Midlife sisters who write about menopause, I applaud you. Yes, by all means do exhort midlife women to have great sex lives.  And do give us tips.

But, let’s be realistic. We can make the best of it. But. The fact is that things change. Sex after midlife bears little resemblance to the kind of sex lives we used to have. That’s the damn truth. So let’s tell it like it is.

Here are a few of my past posts on sex and menopause education.  I write about comedian Kathy Griffin’s take on the ‘pause HERE.  And then, National Masturbation Month in 2013 is handled HERE.

How about some resources on menopause and midlife sex? One of the very best menopause information blogs is Ellen Dolgen’s, HERE. If you are approaching your 40s and peri-menopause, start reading it now. For straight talk about sex after midlife, don’t miss Walker Thornton’s blog and a cool little sex toy shop HERE.  Menopausal entrepreneurs and those who want some helpful PJs, visit Haralee HERE.   If you’ve got other web resources and blogs you think will be helpful, please add in the Comments section.

What are your thoughts?

44 comments on “Telling the truth about senior sex
  1. PatU says:

    OMG, Carol! I don’t know if this makes me burst out laughing or brings me to tears! Either way, it’s a great piece!

  2. Thanks for the mention!!
    Your tongue-in-cheek take on this rush to the bandwagon–embracing the latest trends about aging —is well done. As always there is a range of desire, commitment to sex and factors of aging .

    For me, sex IS the best it’s ever been (age 59). Not because of hot wild passion, which I didn’t have in my younger years, but because I can work closely with a partner to express and add fuel to my desires. I’m not afraid to say what I want so we have great fun, longer exploration that younger men were interested in, prolonged orgasms (not present in my youth) and a desire to extend ‘sex’ beyond the bedroom. My last guy needed ED drugs (age 65), but that didn’t stop us from having hot, sexy, fun sex. Even if he was out of meds or we got spontaneous, we created sex that feels just as hot to me as what we see portrayed on TV. So, the possibility of great sex is not something to dismiss.

  3. Carol, thank you so much for bravely writing this. The truth is, sex is a chore. And luckily I have a partner who doesn’t expect much of me. Cancer and chemo and tamoxifen turned me off and I haven’t been back on since. Luckily, I did have the best sex of my life WITH HIM before all these changes happened… at least he has that to hang onto right? Memories? xo

    • admin says:

      Karen, you have been through so much–thanks for taking the time to give us your point of view, because I think lots of women have had this experience. xox

  4. Just for the record … my sex life is active and great. Oh, wait. Do you mean with another person?

  5. Karen says:

    We need more frank talk about senior sex – kudos, Carol, for writing about this. A friend and I have talked about this in exactly the same vein as this post. She said, “Nobody ever told us sex would be so much work after we turn sixty.” I’m sending this post to her! I think it’s great to shine a light on this…

  6. I loved this. Laughed at the exclamation points especially. I completely relate to your experience and enjoyed that you and Walker are making the same observation: The BEST! SEX! OF YOUR LIFE! is relative to what the OTHER! SEX! OF YOUR LIFE! was like.

  7. Well done, Carol. I especially your reference to the fact that commonly prescribed drugs are robbing us of our sexuality, and I say much too soon. My husband was undergoing conventional heart treatment at only 52, and it was devastating. He’s since turned to diet, exercise and supplemental therapy, and we’re starting to get our great sex lives back. You’ve called for honesty, so here goes: still some occasional hiccups, due to his job loss & subsequent intermittent depression, depending on the bank balance, which can tend to fluctuate with consulting and freelance careers. But mostly, YAY!

  8. Chloe says:

    This was one reason I was so sad to see my 40s end.

  9. Btw, his new therapies are supervised by a DO, and he also takes a compounded testosterone lozenge, formulated specifically to meet his needs. He gets tested every so often to adjust the dosage, as needed.

  10. Frances D says:

    Great writing and Kick Butt pic to go with it! Whoo Hooo!!!!

  11. Carey Giudici says:

    Very good piece, Carol. Never having settled down–into and including my 60s–has flattened out the highs and lows you describe so well. Drive-by affection is the rule for us “road bums,” and tender touch becomes almost enough. The good news is that having avoided anything routine or debilitating keeps people like me lively and resourceful enough to derive real pleasure from flirting and still being attractive to women, including some much younger than me. And after a lifetime of living by my wits and improvising, making the most of what I can get is just part of the adventure.

  12. Ellen Dolgen says:

    Thanks for this great blog, Carol. It helps to bust open the conversation so we can all share and learn from each other. When we women in menopause reflect upon what quality of life we wish to lead, we are faced with many medical as well as lifestyle choices. For instance, it is true that modern medicine has afforded us innovative ways to deal with conditions such as diabetes, thyroid disease, and a range of other medical conditions. There are new drugs and other therapies available to us to treat these conditions, and yes some of them do come with side effects which include diminished sexual drive and performance. We have to make decisions, weigh the risks and rewards, and make choices.

    It is similar as well, when it comes to the issue of vaginal dryness and discomfort which often comes with being in menopause. If the causes of these conditions go untreated, we can wind up in a world of a mess, and not just because sex could hurt if we don’t attend to them. Urinary infections, tearing of the vaginal wall, bleeding and yes, pain with sex are a few of the outcomes that can result from overlooking these issues. We can treat these symptoms and live better and healthier lives, and if we do so, and choose to, we can also have sex with less discomfort. Again, that is a choice, not a prerequisite for treating vaginal dryness. We do not have to have the “best sex of our lives”, but if we wish to, and our sexual partner wants to participate, sex can be great. We need to remember, even when young, some women do not experience “great sex”. There is no one size fits all for any age, including those of us in menopause. The point is, that if you want it, have access to it (even if it is a do it your own thing), then by all means enjoy sexual activity regardless of your age. Doing so actually can help maintain vaginal health, increase blood flow to the area. At the NAMS 2013 convention, it was stressed that doctors should be checking their patients for vaginal atrophy. Regardless of whether you are having sex or not, women should be proactive about her vaginal health.

    • admin says:

      ellen, everything you say is 100% true. And, as my GYN told me a few years ago, it’s not only a risk/reward but a “use it or lose it” scenario for many women our age, which is something that everyone should know & maybe some docs don’t say aloud. (I like my GYN’s attitude but she has hands like a truck driver and not in a good way, and I have been on the fence about replacing her. But she’s a fount of good info and has a good reputation. )

      I hope everyone here becomes a regular reader of your website, which is an invaluable source of menopause and perimenopause info.

  13. Yvonne Wray says:

    Carol, I think you’ve captured the sensationalistic ideals society has reinforced about sex and having the BEST! SEX! OF OUR LIVES! so well. It is true that these unrealistic ideas haunt people in their younger years and now with changing demographics they are spilling into the over 50 crowd too.

    As for me, I’m 51 in perimenopause and I am having the best sex of my life hands down.This is coming from my 30’s when I thought it was the best, then my 40’s when it got even better. Now I expect it to continue to get better.

    What does the best sex mean? It is the expanded experience of female orgasm I have daily that doesn’t require I feel/look/act any certain way to begin with. It is the intensely pleasurable strokes and sesations I feel in my body during orgasm and the high that I ride well after the sex itself is over. It is the ease and gratification I experience with my partner knowing me as a woman, discovering with me what the next best experience will be.

    Using the basics of Deliberate Orgasm as the foundation of our sex life together I can honestly say this without hesitation. I also say it with the belief that it is possible for anyone one who wants to have it including those with physical challenges.

    Thank you Carol for opening up this conversation.

    Yvonne Wray recently posted My Big Brain on Human Hormones

  14. Jane Gassner says:

    Oh, Carol. Can I tell you how much I love this post? How badly our cohort needs to hear and heed it? But then I don’t need to tell you, do I.

  15. Thank GOD someone had the (lack of) hormones to say the TRUTH. The BEST SEX OF OUR LIVES is not now, it was ‘then’ (and it was awesomesauce) BUT, satisfying sex can still be had with more patience, less frequency, shorter duration, less aerobatics, and a lot of laughs- becausee if you don’t remember to laugh- you’d cry. SO just love each other.

  16. Omg. For so many reasons do I love this!

  17. LOVE this!!! Love your honesty and I love how freaking funny this is!

  18. Carol, I missed this the first time around so I’m so glad to read it now! When I think about sex in the 70’s and 80’s, there is certainly a big difference in then and now. And I must say my capacity for intimacy is far different as well. The young girl that I was hadn’t much of a clue in her 20’s especially what that was all about. Love the post and the message –

  19. If this is the best sex in someone’s life at 55+ I am sad for them. The thrill and excitement of youthful sex was amazing and even into my 40’s there were periods of time when it was wonderful. Now, after 27 years of marriage the best thing about sex is expressing my love for my husband and feeling connected to him.

  20. Sheryl Kraft says:

    Um, yeah…Sex after midlife bears little resemblance to the kind of sex lives we used to have.

    But if not the BEST, it’s DIFFERENT, right? 🙂

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