What’s Sex After 50 Really Like?

And can it actually get better in your 60s and beyond? Here’s why menopause may actually mark the true beginning of mind-blowing sex. 

Better-Than-Viagra Libido Boosters For Women

Want to upgrade your personal erotic playbook? Read on.
female libido boosters

To claim your pleasure is a radical act: It upends the status quo, it unnerves the patriarchy, and it opens the main gate to the temple of the erotic. 

But to take full agency of your desire—to get granular with the details of your personal erotic playbook—is no simple thing, especially in a culture that foregrounds female sexuality as a response to someone else’s desire or idea of sexy. (Yes, we are talking about the male gaze here.) 

The authentic erotic lies in owning your own wanting—primarily regarding your relationship to yourself as well as the space between yourself and other. You, and your vibrant imagination, are the true source of your eroticism. Erotic happens when you act upon your desires, with consent and with a full heart, and complete permission for your wild, untamed essence to be in play. And it thrives on choice and voice, as Betty Martin, a somatic sex educator and author of The Art of Receiving and Giving: The Wheel of Consent, says.

I know this firsthand. My own libido died the way many things do: slowly, then all at once. I was 50, living in the basement of the marital home, enmired in a marriage that skipped the honeymoon period and went straight from mildly difficult to extremely difficult. The sex after the kids were born, till it dwindled for good, was pressured, charged and even hostile. It seemed like one day my libido went to the store to pick up some milk and never came back. 

Related: Want to Experience More Sexual Pleasure? Here’s a Roadmap

Finally, to save my soul, I moved out and embarked on the divorce process. So, how did I make the transformation from sex hesitant to sex positive? Partly by finding a partner I was highly motivated to explore sex as an expression of love with. He is impressively pleasure literate and it inspired me to bone up on pleasure by myself—and for myself. 

I got a roster of sex toys, ambivalently checked out porn, stopped underestimating the importance of lube, expanded my lingerie wardrobe, and learned what it was that made me feel sexy. But it only all clicked for me when I came across Martin’s book. It was then I realized the key to my own erotic intelligence resides in the landscape of touch: Discovering all the kinds of touch, verbalizing the kind of touch that turned me on, receiving that touch with unabashed delight, and inquiring into who touch is for and can be for. For example, touching your partner is not necessarily always for your partner: It can be a sensual, erotic experience for the one who touches.

The permutations of touch, the shifting identity of the giver and the receiver, can get dizzying. I spoke with Robyn Dalzen, an intimacy coach, facilitator, and pleasure revolutionary who coteaches with Martin, to weigh in on where sexual desire can be found—and why it’s our responsibility to stoke it ourselves. “The greatest discovery is shifting the idea of what pleasure sex and orgasm means and letting go of the idea of what it looks like,” Dalzen told me. 

Related: “My Sexual Fantasy Life Turned Into Real Life”—Don’t Miss This Woman’s Story

Erotic intelligence is fueled by healthy, unfettered curiosity, an unshakable sense of self-worth, and in the words of author Rachel Botsman, “a confident relationship with the unknown.” Giving up control—not to be confused with agency—can be vulnerable. But the risk is an essential part of the erotic’s purview. When I asked Dalzen what resources she recommends to explore sexual pleasure, she told me to forget about foreplay because it implies a goal. Instead, she recommends “starting at the level of desire and connecting to sensation, becoming attuned to your body, to the physiology of arousal, to your inner yes, the cues of what you want to move toward.”

If you are feeling like you’re bored sexually, in a rut, playing it safe, or phoning it in, the first thing you need to do is ask yourself what you feel curious about. The good news is that the field research can be done—in fact, it’s often best done—by yourself. “As we learn to notice what we want, to trust it, value it, and communicate it, the experience of receiving opens up into a rich, deep, gorgeous landscape,” writes Martin. Here’s a few suggestions for mapping the territory. Of course, how you get there is up to you.

 

Try a little tantra.   

Vocalizing consent is a lot sexier than it sounds. Martin’s work is tantric in the sense that it slows sex down to a more mindful pace while teaching partners to negotiate desire. The touch game, central to her work, defies the cultural notion that sexual rapture requires suppression. Instead, the game encourages honest vocalization of full-hearted pleasure, alongside a commitment to honoring your limits or the limits of others.

Part A

Player one asks, “How do you want me to touch you for three minutes?”

Players agree on a gift of pleasure for the receiver.

Set the timer and go.

Stop when time is up.

Vocalize appreciation.

Part B

Player two asks, “How do you want to touch me for three minutes?”

Players decide what action the receiver is willing to allow.

Set the timer and go.

Stop when time is up.

Vocalize appreciation.

Switch places and go as many rounds as you’d like.

female libido boosters

Explore some new sex toys.

While most people are familiar with the straight up vibrator, there are many other toys with all kinds of bells and whistles. Enter Lelo’s Sila, a sonic clitoral massager that gently suctions the clitoris while spreading vibrations throughout the entire erogenous area. Or experiment with a dual vibrator, such as the Main Attraction by Pure Romance, which couples G-spot shaft vibration with clitoral massage for a choose-your-own-intensity adventure.

 

Use lube.

Lube is a game changer. As with tech, sex calls for a frictionless user interface. Not all lubes are created equal, as toxic chemicals in certain formulations can not only disrupt the vagina’s pH or irritate the delicate genital skin. A trending body-friendly favorite is uberlube, made from silicone and vitamin E, it’s also free of parabens, preservatives, and petrochemicals. Long lasting, elegantly packaged, and most importantly, won’t stain the sheets, this lube has become my new go-to.

Related: 7 Most Common Questions About Orgasms—Answered by Experts

 

Try some sexual enhancement cream.

Who knew plant-based intimate self-care products were a thing? Designed to enhance arousal, the current crop of CBD-infused vagina creams do often feel like your vagina had a toke and got seriously high. Applied topically, often in the form of a CBD-infused oil, the creams can heighten tactile sensations, making coming come more easily and desire more amplified. Its Quim makes a Smooth Operator intimate serum, with a clean deck of active ingredients that increase blood flow, promote pelvic relaxation, and decrease inflammation and pain.

 

Find female-centric porn.

There are way more choices in the porn world than I realized, with lots of up-and-coming indie, feminist-inspired porn sites. While even on some of the supposedly progressive sites I found myself cringing more than binging, one site stood out. Frolic me, founded in 2015 by Anna Richards, has explicit, exclusive content for those who found typical male-focused porn more turn off than turn-on. Like Richards, I find most of the conventional porn crude, dated, and agonizingly predictable. With the intention to create a balanced and more realistic approach to sexual gratification with more equal pleasure, Richards did the unimaginable: she curates female-friendly erotic content that provides both “real, meaningful and beautiful relatable sex.”

 

Read for pleasure.

For many women, erotic literature is more satisfying than porn precisely because it is less visual, more imaginative. There are all kinds of online sites for erotica worth investigation, such as Bellesa. Many classic books such as Delta of Venus (short stories by Anais Nin commissioned for private use), Ulysses (James Joyce’s consummate literary romp, inspired by the main’s character first handjob from his future wife), and Written on the Body (Jeanette Winterson’s luscious paean to exaltation twinned with grief) all include a highly developed—and specific where it counts the most—poetics of titillation. For a cutting edge take on “the politics of radical sex,” look no further than Pleasure Activism, by adrienne maree brown, whose core theme is how embracing what brings us joy is central to organizing against all kinds of oppression. I’ll leave you with an inflammatory excerpt from Delta of Venus to ponder lightly:

“Under their feet was a big white fur. They fell on this, the three bodies in accord, moving against each other to feel breast against breast and belly against belly. They ceased to be three bodies. They became all mouths and fingers and tongues and senses. Their mouths sought another mouth, a nipple, a clitoris. They lay entangled, moving very slowly. They kissed until the kissing became a torture and the body grew restless. Their hands always found yielding flesh, an opening…”

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We are here to normalize women’s sexual health and wellness after 40, without apology.

It’s time to elevate the way we address sex in the second half of life and lift it out of society’s shadows. We’re tired of the stigma and secrecy. We’re frustrated with the lack of credible information. And we’re ready to reclaim women’s sexuality.

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