It’s February and that means Valentine’s Day. In case you hadn’t noticed, the grocery store shelves cleared out Christmas and started stocking Valentine’s candy on January 1. Geez. Even if you want to, there’s no escaping Valentine’s Day.
What do we really want?
As adults, what do we really want on Valentine’s Day? Good chocolates are good any time of year. Flowers are always welcome. Dinner by candlelight with mood music? Sure, but that’s also something that should be a regular part of life. Hopefully, dear reader, you’re blessed with someone who is sympathetic to the pleasure these gifts can bring throughout the year. So let’s be honest. What do we want on Valentine’s Day? We want passion, we want romance, we want good sex. No, we want great sex.
Where are you with that? Do you agree? Are you having it and looking forward to more? Have you relegated yourself to so-so sex? Do you fantasize about the great sex you’d like to have? Have you given up on sex?
Stop wanting sex?!
I did a Google search on “at what age do women stop wanting sex” and the first piece that popped up was a citation from AARP of all places, dating back to 2017 to a British study, no less. It said, “When asked about their sex lives, 15 percent of men and 34 percent of women surveyed revealed they had lost interest for three months or longer in the previous year. For men, this dip in libido was most common between the ages of 35 and 44, while for women it peaked between the ages of 55 and 64.”
As I scrolled through other citations, the results were equally depressing, and telling. It seems a cultural given that it’s assumed we – people of a certain age – have lost interest in or are physically incapable of an active sex life.
I clicked on a piece by Erica Jagger on the website betterafter50.com in which she shared that her gynecologist told her that most women stop having sex by age 65 or 70. She vowed to herself that she wouldn’t end up in that statistic, and felt badly for her (elder) gynecologist and the women she was practically dooming to live out sexless lives. I suspect this is something all women can agree on in theory – that they want to continue to have a robust sex life well into their later years – but what about in practice? Do you find yourself slipping into this regrettable but maybe inescapable demographic?
It’s no secret that everyone wonders if it’s possible to sustain a sexual connection through years much less decades of togetherness, no matter how compatible you are or how wonderful your relationship is. The sex educator Emily Nagoski’s TED Talk on this topic has been viewed over 3 million times! Is it possible that by committing to a monogamous relationship we’re also committing to a steady detachment, decline, and eventual death of a fulfilling sex life?
Let’s not go there!
To AARP’s credit, they recently added a sexpert to their roster of advisors on all things aging as part of their online platform, Senior Planet (seniorplanet.org). She’s Joan Price, and she is a cheerleader for not just having sex in our golden years, but enjoying it. Really enjoying it!
Joan is a true advocate for ageless sexuality, publishing her first book on senior sex in 2006 called It’s Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty. A no-holds-barred, lively blend of memoir with candid comments from real women about sex in later life, it launched Joan into the role of Senior Sexpert with the media and – most importantly – with seniors searching for advice and encouragement.
Joan has since published four other books, including Naked At Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex (winner of the Outstanding Self-Help Book 2012 from the American Society of Journalists and Authors and 2012 Book Award from the American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists); The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50: How to Maintain – or Regain – a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life; Ageless Erotica; and Sex After Grief (winner of the 2020 service/self-help Book Award from the American Society of Journalists and Authors).
I’ve been following Joan for several years now, delighted to be exposed to so much useful and honest information. I love that she is unapologetic and unembarrassed talking about sex and pleasure. At the same time, she’s empathetic and sensitive. It’s no wonder Sex After Grief earned such honors from the American Society of Journalists and Authors – it takes seriously and with compassion the experience of widows and widowers and those who become sexually and romantically involved with them, exploring the myriad feelings around love and loss and sex in an age of “move on and get over it.” If you’re older and single but want to be in a relationship, you may very well meet someone in this place in their life, or a man with erectile dysfunction, or you may experience painful intercourse. If you are dating and plan to become sexually intimate, be sure to use protection against sexually transmitted infections (STIs) or get tested to be sure you and your partner are free of any. These are very real issues for seniors, and Joan says, “Let’s talk about them!”
Senior sexpert advice
Anything you want to know or ask, Joan has explored it and wants to help. Her most popular webinar is titled, Great Sex Without Penetration.
Have you felt embarrassed about exploring sex toys at your/our age? Joan isn’t, and she does regular reviews of products that can bring pleasure to women and men (she has a cohort who reviews toys for “penis owners,” as she sometimes refers to men in her blog). You don’t have to feel slutty or fear that your computer will start blasting you with x-rated spam when you read this on her website through her blog posts. What a relief!
Joan acknowledges that with changes in our bodies, medical conditions, and relationships as we age, of course our sexual responses are going to change. She maintains that these are challenges, not dead ends, and she encourages letting go of old beliefs and redefining what gives us pleasure now. Joan’s contribution to senior sex was noted and expounded on in a recent feature in The New York Times, “The Joys (and Challenges) of Sex After 70,” by Maggie Jones. I was thrilled to see the article, which is a wonderfully researched and written deep-dive into the topic, and delighted that Joan is a big part of it. If this article is piquing your interest, you have to read the piece by Ms. Jones, published January 12, 2022.
Joan’s first blog entry of 2022 is a list of Sexy Seniors’ New Year’s Resolutions. Read them in full and get additional resources at joanprice.com/blog. Here is a summary to get you thinking (all direct quotes from Joan):
• Redefine Sex. The ways you used to have sex are no longer possible or pleasurable now? Don’t let that close off your sexual expression. Instead, expand your definition of sex to include all the activities that arouse you and bring you sexual pleasure now, partnered or solo.
• Use High Quality Lubricant. A lubricant that keeps you moist and slick will increase comfort and intensify your pleasure. Use lube liberally both solo and with a partner, and reapply frequently.
• Self-Pleasure Frequently. Solo sex is real sex, and it’s good for your general health, your sexual health and your sense of wellbeing. Give yourself sexual pleasure, whether you’re in a relationship or not.
• Enjoy Sex Toys. Our hormonally-challenged bodies may need extra help to reach orgasm. A well-chosen, well-placed vibrator can be the difference between orgasm and no orgasm.
• Indulge Your Erotic Imagination. Fantasize, read erotica, view films that turn you on. Don’t judge yourself for the kinds of images, fantasies, or private thoughts that get you revved up. Your brain is your most powerful sex organ.
• Use Your Words. Learning to talk about sex is the key to getting what you want. A long-term partner is likely to continue doing what used to work, even if it doesn’t work for you now, unless you redirect the action. A new partner wants to know how to please you. Speak up.
• Use Safer Sex. If you’re sexual with new partners, use barrier protection. Many people with sexually transmitted infections (STIs) either don’t know or don’t tell. Use barrier protection (condoms for intercourse and fellatio, dental dams for cunnilingus) every time.
And not to be overlooked or minimized, Joan’s list concludes with the practical and sound advice to talk to your doctor about any physical problems that may require medical attention; to a sex-savvy counselor about ongoing sexual problems in your relationship; and to “learn, learn, learn” from the wealth of trustworthy and reliable sources available to us.
Wait until you see everything Joan offers through her website joanprice.com. She recently completed a film with the celebrated sex educator, porn actress, and director jessica drake (who uses lowercase in the spelling of her name), jessica drakes’ Guide to Wicked Sex, Senior Sex: Co-Created with Joan Price.
So, with Valentine’s Day on the horizon, what’ll it be? What do you really want? If it’s sex, don’t be shy or embarrassed to admit it and act on it – but don’t be unrealistic, unkind, or overly demanding, either. If you and your partner need more time and attention to get there together, honor that, but commit to it. Buy yourself a sex toy and get things going.
If you’re single, don’t waste time fantasizing about what Valentine’s Day could or should be like if only you were with a special someone. If you want flowers, get some. Chocolate? Buy something you know you’ll love and that’s not a budget (or waistline) killer. Crave a delicious dinner? Order in from a favorite restaurant. Light some candles and watch or read something sexy. Get in bed with yourself and a sex toy if it helps, and take your sexual pleasure and your self-care seriously on February 14 and every other day of the year.
Joan Price says, “Sexual pleasure has no expiration date.” Be someone who defies their gynecologist’s defeatist demographics. Be a sexy senior!