While age presents some people with sexual challenges (such as erectile dysfunction or decreased libido), these five steps can help all seniors intensify their love life.
Slow things down a notch. It may take you and your partner a little longer to become aroused than it used to. “Staying relaxed and having a flexible attitude is a big help,” says Bob G. Knight, PhD, the Merle H. Bensinger professor of gerontology and professor of psychology at the Andrus Gerontology Center at the University of Southern California in Los Angeles, and director of the Tingstad Older Adult Counseling Center.
Make more time for intimacy and be prepared to approach sex differently. What once turned you and your partner on may not have the same effect anymore. Take the time to experiment your way to better sex. “I think of this as a gift to women,” says Joan Price, author of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty and Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex. “Men are finally interested in foreplay.”
Just spending time touching is a great warm-up for senior sex. Price, 67, began writing about senior sex 10 years ago when she fell in love with a man and, as she describes it, “had great, exhilarating, spicy sex, but it wasn’t like in our twenties, not at all.” She then realized that the overwhelming cultural belief was that senior sex would be dull and painful at best. It’s neither of those, she says, but it is different, in large part because of the physiological changes that come with aging.
Chat about your body’s changes. Whether you need to open up about your changing needs to a lifelong partner or get to know a new one, communication is key. “Talking before, during, and after can lead to more enjoyable experiences and avoid misunderstanding and anxiety,” says Knight. For particularly difficult conversations, such as those related to taking medication for erectile dysfunction or addressing a need to overcome low libido, he advises picking a time when you feel close and relaxed, but not when sex is imminent. Being honest about what’s going on and what you hope will be going on — as difficult as speaking these words might be — is the best approach, he says.
Experiment with new positions and toys. Spicy solutions to senior sex problems are guaranteed to be interesting topics of conversation. Just as you may need more time to become aroused, you might also want to try something new. Using sex toys (such as vibrators) and practical aids, such as lubricants, can up the wow factor.
If you find that sex aids top the list of difficult things to talk about, keep this in mind: “If we have slow arousal and arthritic wrists, why not just turn on a tool that does the job really well because that’s what it’s designed for? If we need a little assist, that’s okay,” says Jones. Other new moves may be as simple as a change of position or the addition of some pillows to support achy bones.
Explore on your own. Don’t have a partner? Masturbation has been shown to improve both physical and emotional health, so don’t let being alone keep you from getting pleasure. “When suitable partners are not available, self-stimulation can be useful and healthy,” says Knight. Take time to discover what pleases you, and be creative — it may even lead to better sex with your partner as you learn about what works best for you. This may also be a good way to try out sex toys before you bring them up in conversation.
Stay healthy. Your body may be changing, but you can improve how it works and feels by making healthy diet and exercise choices. These choices, in turn, can lead to better sex by maintaining muscle strength and aerobic capacity.
One important element of staying healthy? Practice safe sex. Even though you don’t have to worry about unwanted pregnancy, age does not protect men or women from sexually transmitted diseases. Plan on using condoms for sexual intercourse if you and your partner are not in a long-term, monogamous relationship.
With the right attitude and an open mind, sex in your senior years can be exhilarating and spicy indeed.