14 Ways to Enjoy Better Sex as You Age
Whether you’re in a long-term relationship that’s lost its fervour or are inching into middle age and beyond, here’s what the experts want you to know about sex.
Make Your Mantra “Dirty Talk, Clean Space”
One of the biggest turn-offs for women of all ages is a dirty, messy space. “The sexual environment is really important to women,” says Robin Milhausen, a sex researcher at the University of Guelph. “So one of my tips is ‘dirty talk, clean space.’ You can’t always afford to go to a hotel, although hotel sex is awesome, so de-clutter your room if you’re partnered with a woman. And clean sheets are a huge plus.”
Stock Up on Lube
“Lubricant is one of my favourite things,” says Milhausen. “It’s critical, especially as you age.” On average, women go through menopause between the ages of 45 and 55 and the hormonal changes can result in vaginal dryness or atrophy – which then leads to pain during intercourse. Lube up before and during sexual activity and you’ll be surprised by how much your discomfort will be minimized.
Open Your Mind
“Why is the sex so much more exciting in newer relationships?” asks Laurie Betito, a Montreal clinical psychologist and sex therapist. “Because it’s new. The other body is new and you’re discovering your partner’s tastes and buttons.” Couples that have been together for 10+ years may need to put in a little extra effort to spice up their sex lives and have better sex. It can be something as simple as buying a new scented candle and some massage oil, adding sex toys into your repertoire or visiting a sex shop or sex trade show such as The Everything To Do With Sex Show to bring something fresh to your relationship.
Follow the Six-Minute Rule
According to a national mid-life sex study conducted by the Sex Information and Education Council of Canada (SIECCAN) and sponsored by Trojan, “the people who were spending six to 10 minutes post-sex being kind to each other, snuggling or engaging in conversation were much more likely to say the encounter was very pleasurable than those who spent zero to five minutes.” Rather than rolling over and going to sleep or hopping into the shower immediately, take the time to build a bond with your partner and you’ll have greater relationship satisfaction, even three months later. “After you’re intimate and sexual, oxytocin, which is a bonding hormone, floods through your body. Women especially are primed to feel connected to their partners at that point. Many of us also tend to feel vulnerable after sex, so use that moment to connect, rather than disconnect.”
Check Your Meds
Many common medications, including anti-depressants, can have an impact on libido. If you’re experiencing loss of interest in sex, or are starting a new medication, talk to your doctor about possible sexual side effects such as loss of orgasm, arousal or desire. “It’s knowledge-based,” says Betito. “You can explore different types of medication. If you’re prescribed an SSRI anti-depressant, sometimes adding Wellbutrin could counteract the sexual side effects. But some people don’t care. One of the symptoms of depression is low desire anyhow. If getting out of a depression is the priority, then you let go of the sexual arousal for a period of time.”
Don’t Take It Personally
Our bodies change as we get older, which can result in erectile dysfunction or vaginal dryness. Try not to mistake these symptoms as a sign that your partner no longer loves you or isn’t attracted to you. Instead, recognize that these factors are a part of life and don’t have to put a damper on your sex life. Sometimes just a little education is key. Did you know that “a woman can be completely aroused and not lubricating due to age-related factors or medication?” says Betito. What about the fact that “you can give oral sex to a flaccid penis because a flaccid penis can still get the sensation of orgasm?” The more you know…
Men tend to be good at staying in the moment when they’re having sex. Women, on the other hand, often think about a million other things, which can get in the way of experiencing orgasm. Milhausen recommends practicing mindfulness techniques, where you “notice disturbing or distressing thoughts, then send them away and focus on the pleasurable sensations you’re having,” she says.
When most people think of sex, they immediately think intercourse, but there are so many components of sexuality – especially when erectile dysfunction is an issue. “If a man experiences erectile dysfunction, often he will avoid all kinds of sexual activity, which is sad because then sex only relates to the penis,” says Betito. “But what stops him from pleasuring his partner? What stops the couple from being intimate in other ways? Just hanging out naked, for example. Those are all connected things. They all have a positive impact on the relationship.”
Work Masturbation Into Your Sked
On average, men masturbate… a lot. In SIECCAN’s mid-life sex study, 75 percent of men reported masturbating a few times a month or more. On the other hand, over half of women of the same age (40-59) reported masturbating once a month or less. And that’s a real shame, says Milhausen. “It’s normal and healthy and reduces stress, plus you sleep better,” she says. Masturbation also teaches us about our bodies and what we like so that we can experience greater pleasure, with or without a partner.
Ask For What You Want
“If you’re talking about sex after 40, 50 and 60, those erogenous zones that really did it for us when we were younger may be different when we get older,” says Betito. If you’ve noticed that your body and the things that turn you on have started to change, speak up. “Maybe your clitoris needs a little more stimulation. Or maybe your penis needs a firmer grip now,” she says. Or maybe you’ve spent a little time masturbating and noticed there are certain places you like to be touched or rhythms that you enjoy. Whatever the case, talk is key.
Try New Condoms
If you’re single and having sex with multiple partners, condom use is important to protect against sexually transmitted infections (STIs). But condoms don’t have to be boring or uncomfortable. “There have never been more designs, more shapes and sizes,” says Milhausen. So pick up a variety pack and see if you can find a new favourite. “People tend to be creatures of habit when it comes to condoms,” she says, “and one of my big sex tips is to try something new.”
Use Your Hands
In the mid-life sex study conducted by SIECCAN, 88 percent of participants said they found touching their partner with their hands to be extremely pleasurable. “Your mouth gets tired. Your body gets tired. But the hands are magical and I encourage people to not underestimate this resource,” says Milhausen. “Use your hands and use lube and you’ll experience more pleasure.”
Talk Outside of the Bedroom
Having frequent conversations about sex is a good thing, but it’s probably best to broach the subject outside of the bedroom to avoid feelings of frustration or disappointment. “Talk about yourself in terms of your needs rather than making your partner feel like they’re the one that’s doing something wrong,” suggests Betito.
If you feel uncomfortable talking about sex with your partner, consider reading a book together that’s filled with sex tips. Betito’s book, The Sex Bible for People Over 50, is filled with problems and solutions to go with them, as well as sex tricks and lots of pictures. She also has a list of books that she recommends on her website.