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Too Old for Sex?

Some days I feel the need to get on the rooftop and shout out that middle-aged women still have sex—and enjoy it. It’s a reaction that pops up every time I hear someone talking as if older adults can’t, don’t or wouldn’t know how to have sex. Younger people may not like the thought of senior sex and older people having sex, but it’s hardly as if anyone over fifty is too old for sex!

I actively seek out news and stories about older adults, post 50, talking about sex and sexuality. I want to know what people are saying; I want to see the research when it becomes available. And I want to reinforce positive stories about middle-aged women (over 50, or 60), enjoying sex.

A recent article in the Modern Love column for The New York Times noted, “There’s always this cloud of shoulds,” he (Daniel Jones, their editor) says.

“What should we be doing at this age? What should love be at 70? And should it involve sex? There’s a hunger among the older portion of our audience for stories that feel familiar to them about how people are navigating long-term marriage and their supposed golden years. It’s something that feels invisible, I think, to a lot of the population. But isn’t, and shouldn’t be.”

“Should it involve sex?”

How is that even an question? Of course it should, if that’s what we desire. How is it that we continue to have so many misconceptions about what older adults are doing, or are capable of doing? What myth says that hitting age 70, or even 50 and 60 suddenly means the end of sexual desire?

Why wouldn’t we expect love, sex, romance and partnerships to resemble the norm at any given age? I’m in the middle of a romance with a man in his 60s. The kind of intimacy we enjoy is not unlike what I’ve experienced most of my adult life.

I shared this quote and my thoughts on what sex could look like at 63, with a group I spoke to last week.  One woman, 38 years old, was pretty excited about that. She needed to know that over 50 she wouldn’t feel significantly less sexual than she does now. I can’t guarantee that we all have the same level of interest in sex or an absence of significant challenges to our sexual health. But I can speak to a number of examples of older adults leading vigorous sexual lives.

When Are You Too Old for Sex?

Sex changes for all adults—sometimes from day to day. But our basic need and desire to give and receive pleasure can remain a constant in our lives. Every significant change in life: marriage, childbirth, illness, menopause, or the death of a partner, brings stress and other emotional or physical changes. Our desire for intimacy may lessen or change but that does not signal an end to our ability to have intimate relationships.

The key with sex is to constantly think about what we want and how to make that happen. We may need to implement changes due to our life circumstances, but we can commit to experiencing sexual desire as long as we choose to do so.

How Sex Keeps You Young

Sex keeps your brain young. Last month I talked about the connection between sexual activity and cognition, based on a recent study which revealed cuddling and touch brought the same cognitive benefits as more direct sexuality activity. We can receive pleasure in different ways when we expand our definition of what constitutes sex. And now we have scientific proof that sexual activity is beneficial to our cognitive skills as well as our sexual health and overall well-being.

Whatever your age there is always the possibility of sexual pleasure. By taking care of your own needs, if unpartnered, or working with partners to ensure continued intimacy you can continue to be sexually active through out your life span.

Looking for more sex advice for women over 50? Read Walker’s most popular post on how to choose the right lubricant for sex over 50, sex tips for older adults, and a beginner’s guide on how to use a vibrator.

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, <a>WalkerThornton.com </a> was ranked #5 by Kinkly.com in their top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes of 2014. You can connect with her on <a>Facebook </a> and <a href="http://twitter.com/WalkerThornton">Twitter</a> For questions about sexual health, write her at [email protected]

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