What No One Tells You About Sex After 70

There’s a lot of mystery surrounding sex in your 60s, 70s and beyond.

Look online and you’ll find countless threads where curious younger people ask if older people are having sex at all, and if they are having it, what it’s like. “What does it feel like?” others wonder. (Good, we imagine? It’s still sex!)

The mystery surrounding sex in older age stems from a combination of factors, according to Shannon Chavez, a licensed psychologist and sex therapist in Beverly Hills, California.

First, societal taboos and ageist attitudes have led to a marginalization of older adults’ sexuality. No one wants to imagine people their grandparents’ or parents’ age having sex, so we cast out those thoughts. What we get as a result are limited discussions and representations of sex in later life; think of how few scenes we see of older people getting it on in movies and TV, and how often post-50 sex and Viagra are the butt of the joke for late-night comedians.

We’re all going to get older eventually (hopefully, anyway) but because we’ve stigmatized post-50 sex so much, we’re ill-prepared for the realities of it, Chavez said.

“There’s a lack of comprehensive sex education tailored to older age groups, leaving many individuals uninformed about the changes and challenges they may face regarding sexuality as they age,” she told HuffPost.

“This all leads to misconceptions and curiosity about what sexual experiences are like in later life,” she said. “Overall, increased awareness, education, and open dialogue about sex and aging can help eliminate the mystery and promote healthier attitudes toward sexuality in older age groups.”

The heartening reality is that those who are AARP-aged are still having, enjoying and desiring sex, even when they’re not coupled up. Four out of 10 people ages 65-80 are still sexually active, according to a 2018 study from the National Poll on Healthy Aging. And whether or not they have an active sex life, nearly two-thirds of older adults said they’re interested in sex. More than half said sex is important to their quality of life, according to the same study.

To shed some light on post-70 sex, we asked sex therapists and people over 70 to share some things people should know about sex in the golden years. See what they had to say below.

Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and length.

Your need to feel desired doesn’t just disappear.

“I can only speak for my wife and I, but I think one of the biggest things not talked about is the drive for sex and physical enjoyment ― to be desired, to be wanted, to have that feeling of giving and receiving the physical, as well as emotional release ― never goes away. When we’re young, we don’t want to believe that old, saggy humans still want sex. But we do. Physical attraction and satisfaction, communication and personal hygiene are still important, even in our 70s.

“There are certain things that have to be worked out, of course: erectile dysfunction, extreme dryness, pain and limited positions. But it’s great to be alive at a time when science has solved some of these issues with easy solutions. Drugs and creams for both women and men, as well as physical exercises and therapies, make it possible to enjoy sex at this late stage. I understand that there are many people at this age who have debilitating diseases or physical limitations that make it very difficult or even undesirable to have sex. And I certainly respect that. But there are also many older people, older than us even, who still want and have sex.

“I think the biggest problem is the stigma of being old, with gray hair or bald, saggy breasts and butts, means that there’s no longer a need for sex. When we were in our 50s, we thought that if we were alive in our 70s, we’d be done. To our pleasant surprise, it’s just the opposite.” ― Frank, 76, who lives in the Texas panhandle and has been married for almost 53 years

blackCAT via Getty Images

People AARP-aged are still having sex, enjoying sex and desiring sex, even when they’re not coupled up.

The frequency decreases but the quality often increases.

“I think the most surprising thing about sex after 70 for many folks is that it has the potential to be better than ever. Many of my clients in their 70s (and 80s!) report that while the frequency of sex generally declines with age, the quality improves. Sometimes this is related to so-called sexual dysfunction which leads them to discover new pathways to pleasure. For example, if penetration is painful or uncomfortable, they often learn to explore and enjoy full-body pleasure. Or if erectile issues arise, many folks finally discover that the hands, tongue, lips, toys and skin can lead to intense pleasure and orgasms in the absence of penile erections.” ― Jess O’Reilly, a sexologist and the host of the Sex With Dr. Jess podcast

Erectile dysfunction doesn’t need to end your sex life.

“I’ve dealt with ED for over 20 years. My wife could never orgasm with [penis in vagina] but now has at least two or three orgasms and often more. I guess you could call it advanced foreplay: I use my mouth, hands and leg to stimulate her. She then stimulates me until I’m finished.” ― Norm, 71, southeast Michigan

Aging may cause physical barriers, but there are workarounds.

“Aging may cause physical changes that don’t have to be barriers to having sex. Aging naturally causes changes in physical comfort and mobility such as arthritis, joint pain, or mobility limitations that can be addressed easily by using products such as pillows for support, trying different sexual positions that are less physically demanding, or incorporating lubricants to reduce discomfort which contribute to a more enjoyable and fulfilling sexual experience. Also, being open to experimenting and adapting to the changing needs of one’s body can help older adults continue to engage in pleasurable sexual activities. In older age, sex is less performative and more adaptable to experiences providing pleasure and connection.” ― Chavez

"You don’t have to experience spontaneous desire to enjoy sex," said Jess O’Reilly, a sexologist and the host of the Sex With Dr. Jess podcast

LWA-Dann Tardif via Getty Images

“You don’t have to experience spontaneous desire to enjoy sex,” said Jess O’Reilly, a sexologist and the host of the Sex With Dr. Jess podcast

Sexual adventurousness and creativity expand with experience.

“Just because our bodies get worn out doesn’t mean our minds do. Adventurousness and imagination expand with experience. I may be different from other people, but I find myself giving myself permission to explore and be interested in diverse activities even more than when I was younger. When you get toward the end of your life you realize the rules don’t matter as much anymore, including in bed. No one is going to give you a disapproving glance and no one is going to discourage you from doing something you want to do and, really, who cares if they do?” ― David Daniel, a 70-something in Cedar Rapids, Iowa

It can be painful, especially for women.

“The aging process has a tremendous impact on sexual functioning and satisfaction. In addition, as we age, we tend to have more medical issues and many medications can impact sexual function. As we age, we often experience changes in our sexual behavior, desire, what we find arousing, and overall sexual well-being. Some of the biological changes we experience as we age involve hormones: When women reach middle age, they experience menopause. This happens because the body stops producing estrogen. Some of the results of decreased estrogen production include vaginal dryness, decreased lubrication, and loss of elasticity in the vaginal tissues. This often leads to discomfort and even pain during intercourse. In some cases, there may be a decrease in nipple and clitoral sensitivity. The good news is, lube and longer-acting vaginal moisturizers can help.” ― Rachel Needle, a psychologist in West Palm Beach, Florida, and the co-director of Modern Sex Therapy Institutes

Sometimes, it’s more about the emotional connection.

“Emotional connection and intimacy are a priority and sex becomes intentional and more of the experience they are having. It is less about the sexual scripts and acts of sex and more about the type of connection and closeness that can be gained from mutually enjoyable experiences together. The motivation for sex may be less about looking good, pleasing your partner only, feeling like an obligation or task, and being more intentional about feeling good together and enjoying the experience.” ― Chavez

"It is less about the sexual scripts and acts of sex and more about the type of connection and closeness that can be gained from mutually enjoyable experiences together," sex therapist Shannon Chavez said.

MoMo Productions via Getty Images

“It is less about the sexual scripts and acts of sex and more about the type of connection and closeness that can be gained from mutually enjoyable experiences together,” sex therapist Shannon Chavez said.

Sexual desire is “supposed” to be spontaneous but it’s not always that way, especially as we age.

“Some data suggests that very few women commonly experience sexual desire postmenopause. One study found that 24% never experience desire and 41% rarely experience desire postmenopause. But 91% experience arousal (and pleasure). What we can learn from this is that you don’t have to experience spontaneous desire to enjoy sex; if you don’t find yourself in the mood, you can put yourself in the mood — with fantasy, conversation, touch, and other forms of arousal.” ― O’Reilly

It’s all about managing your expectations.

“If you believe Reddit and other online forums, some folks make love several times a day. I’ve told the folks on Reddit that we make love every Friday. We tell anyone that wants to see us on Friday that we have a previous engagement. Our family knows that Friday is our chill day and never bothers us. Could we have sex more often? Maybe, but it’s very exhausting and we talk about it all of the time to keep it exciting. It’s Wednesday today, so it’s Friday, eve, eve. Lots of hugging and kissing during the week, just to be close.” ― Norm

Article Source : huffpost.com

Newsletter Updates

Enter your email address below and subscribe to our newsletter