Skip to Content

Understanding the Importance of Sexual Health at Midlife

A note from Walker Thornton: I’m so pleased to be the new Women’s Sexual Health columnist for Midlife Boulevard. I started thinking and writing about sex as I reentered the dating world in my early 50s. What I began to realize is that many midlife women have questions about sex and their bodies. I often hear from women who aren’t having sex or who want to figure out how to make their sexual response better. It’s such a healthy place to be—understanding the importance of our sexuality and its overall impact on our lives. I love being a resource for women (and occasionally men) and a sex educator. I’m excited about bringing that work here to Midlife Boulevard.

 Let’s talk about how we define sexual health.

midlife, midlife women, sexual health, women's sexual health, sex after 50, sex at midlife, aging and sex,

I think sexual health is more than talking about mammograms or looking at the challenges of menopause and aging. I see sexual health as encompassing relevant health news, resources, education, personal practices and more. I hope to provide information that will help you feel better in your body, enjoy better sex, and understand the benefits of living a sexy life-both in and out of the bed. I’ll do occasional Q&A articles so if you want me to address a particular topic (anonymously), you can email me at

I believe, as do many practitioners and sex educators, that it is important for us to develop, continue, or improve a sexual practice, or routine, as we age.

We know that aging brings aches and pains, a few wrinkles, and a lessening of physical strength. We see it in the lines on our faces and the shifting of body parts. We rush to the gym, we reach for the face potions, and yet we ignore our ‘lady parts’. We take medications to improve our health and well-being but we don’t tune in to how our genitals are doing. If tummies need toning and our muscles need to be exercised what about our vaginas?

Vaginal health is important for a number of reasons. Bladder functioning is connected to the strength of our pelvic wall.  Kegel exercises are useful for exercising those muscles, and vaginal stimulation can help as well. And, it’s more fun.  Arousal increases blood flow which helps keep vaginal tissue from drying out and becoming thinner. Sexual activity, with a partner or through self-pleasuring, helps to reduce the chances of vaginal tearing, discomfort and vaginal atrophy.

Sex provides us with a surge of feel-good hormones, a sense of satisfaction, and is thought to be one of the key ingredients to a happy marriage.  Orgasms cause our bodies to release oxytocin, the hormone that produces feelings of pleasure.  It’s pretty simple. When we have sex it makes us feel good.

At a time when a woman’s sexuality is often demeaned or assumed to be nonexistent at a certain age, it’s important to look at the health benefits of an active sex life, solo or partnered. And at the same time, acknowledge that some women are uncomfortable talking about their bodies and their sexuality. Dysfunctional relationships, sexual trauma, illness, loss of desire and other reasons can lead women to stop considering sex a vital part of their lives.

Having sex on a regular basis, however you choose to define that, has physical and mental benefits. Isn’t that what we all strive for in our lives—to feel good, tap into our creative energy and take care of ourselves?

Thoughts? Comments?

midlife boulevard, columnist, midlife women, middle-age, midlife crisis



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

More Posts - Website

Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle Plus

Dr. Margaret Rutherford

Thursday 10th of April 2014

I will look forward to reading your posts Walker. I talk about sex so much with patients, sometimes I forget that others don't! Delighted to have you as a resource!

Walker Thornton

Monday 14th of April 2014

Margaret, thank you. I'm glad to see that you discuss sex--it's such an integral part of our lives that it needs to be in therapeutic conversations.

Claudia Schmidt

Monday 7th of April 2014

Wonderful new column, Walker! Looking forward to reading your regular columns on MLB!


Monday 7th of April 2014

Thank you Claudia. I look forward to sharing more with you!

Kathy Radigan

Monday 7th of April 2014

So glad that you are going to be a regular contributor, you always have such great things to say in such an intelligent and thoughtful way! I loved this post!


Monday 7th of April 2014

Thank you Kathy, that's my goal so it's nice to know that I'm hitting it! Thank you for your kind words.

Lori Lavender Luz

Monday 7th of April 2014

How savvy of Midlife Boulevard to have such a column and such a columnist.

Walker Thornton

Monday 7th of April 2014

Oh Lori! Aren't you sweet. I agree--it's a topic that all midlife women (and men) need to be informed on.

Doreen McGettigan

Monday 7th of April 2014

Congratulations Walker! This is great information. I am looking forward to reading and learning from your future articles.


Monday 7th of April 2014

Thank you Doreen. I hope you'll find the information helpful!

Comments are closed.
Read previous post:
do your laundry or you'll die alone, life lessons, advice for new graduates, becky blades, graduation gift
Laundry Lessons and Midlife Losses: A Creative Journey

Editor's note: A few months ago Becky Blades asked me to take a look at her book, Do Your Laundry...