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Myths About Sex and The Midlife Woman

sex, intimacy, midlife, older adultsThere are a lot of myths about sex that women buy into. And, they hurt us. They get in our heads and end up impacting how we view our bodies and our sense of ourselves as sexual beings.

Myths about sex, aging and older women

  • Menopause means the end of sex. Post-menopausal sex is painful for most women.
  • Penetrative sex, intercourse, is the only form of sex.
  • Most older women no longer have sex or sexual desire.
  • Older adults having sex is just gross. It bears no resemblance to the sex people in their 20’s and 30’s have.

All of these are wrong. But if you’re honest with yourself you probably believe at least one of them, right?

Menopause has varied effects on women—no one experience speaks to what your experience will be like. I’m in that group of women for whom menopause was just a bump in the road. I have yet to experience increased dryness or difficulty with penetrative sex. Each woman is different. The key is to not let the stories make you fearful.

Penetration, or intercourse is wonderful for men and is generally their preferred sex act. Since most women don’t orgasm from having intercourse alone we need additional, or an alternate form, of stimulation to bring about orgasms. There are reasons to enjoy the intimacy of intercourse. And there are many reasons you should expand pleasure to include other forms of touch and intimacy if you want to feel more pleasure when having sex with a partner.

Older adults do have sex. We have sex up into our 80’s and 90’s. Research has shown that older adults report greater satisfaction with sex.

The fact that younger adults find sex for older adults gross is laughable as they probably haven’t thought through the idea that they will be “old” one day too.

What kind of sex are older adults having?

The same kind of sex as everyone else. I know adults in their 60’s and 70’s with active sex lives that include oral, anal and vaginal sex. Kink is alive and well in older adults as is the idea of sex with varied partners. Sex in bed, sex standing up, in the shower, on the kitchen floor, with toys, with adventure and daring. The only limit is one’s imagination. And maybe our knees or backs!

What’s usually missing in conversations about sex for adults of all ages is the emotional needs of individuals. And sexual intimacy is a wonderful way to build connection, get our physical and emotional needs met and have fun.

I believe good sex incorporates communication—my number one indicator of a good and considerate lover—and the following:

  • Touch–stroking, hand-holding, foot rubbing, skin to skin contact. All things that we don’t normally consider sex but which are sensuous in nature.
  • Cuddling—intimacy doesn’t have to include genitals.
  • Pleasure—pleasure should be the goal of any sexual activity. Pleasure for both parties. If you’re doing something out of obligation or feel guilt or shame then you’re not free to experience pleasure. If this is the case then ask yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing.

Sexual health is as important as physical and mental health. Our bodies need to be touched and used and adored. Our genitals need attention to increase blood flow to all of our organs and tissues. Sexual activity is good for our hearts, strengthens pelvic floor muscles (which helps bladder control and orgasms), and gives our hormones a surge. You can practice good sexual health with or without a partner, regardless of your level of fitness or health, with some creative thinking or modifications.

Listen to your body, listen to your heart, and ask yourself what you need. You are a much more valuable resource than the latest sensational headline pushing the idea that we are somehow ‘less than’ as older women.

Often the answer to our sex or relationship issues is something we can improve through conversation and intention and awareness. Because we deserve to have pleasure in our lives, we get to choose what we want and how that looks in our lives. I’m doing something different with my new project, Desire Sessions, part coaching and part market research, geared to women who want something more in their sex lives. Maybe it’s time for you to give it a try?

Other articles you might enjoy:

Changing Our “Sex-pectations” at Midlife

Stop the Negative Thoughts About Aging and Menopause

Walker Thornton

We are delighted to have Walker Thornton as our Women’s Sexual Health columnist. After working for over 10 years in the field of sexual violence against women, Walker is now enjoying a new career as a freelance writer, public speaker, and sex educator with an emphasis on midlife women. Her blog, was ranked #5 by in their top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes of 2014. You can connect with her on Facebook and Twitter For questions about sexual health, write her at

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