July 17, 2020

10 Things Women After 50 Should Know About Sex

Our bodies and minds change as we get older, but sex can remain great.
Written by
Dr. Susan Hardwick-Smith
Published on
July 17, 2020
Updated on
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As we get older, our bodies and minds inevitably change, for better or worse. Most of us, however, are in the dark as to how those changes might affect our sex lives. But while everyone is different, there are some common things we can all prepare for to make sex after 50 even better. Understanding and adapting to our changing bodies means we can restore our sexual being to its full potential, and make sex after 50 even more fulfilling than it was before. 

Here are 10 things women should know about sex after 50.

1. Some things that used to work might not anymore — and that’s okay. 

After 50, your body may go through a number of changes which can affect your sex drive or just the way you experience sensation. Things that used to feel good may not feel good anymore, so it's important to step out of the box and create new habits that provide pleasure in other ways. For example, some women who are post menopausal may not derive pleasure from vaginal intercourse, and instead may prefer manual or oral stimulation. Rather than this being a negative change, it can actually be an exciting opportunity to try new things and to re-explore your body with experimentation and self-care.

2. You can redefine sex in ways that work for you. 

We need to redefine what we think of as sex, which is way more than penetration. Define sex as "intimate physical contact," and so long as it creates pleasure for both people there are countless ways that it can be expressed. Especially in our elderly years, vaginal intercourse may become difficult, but simply cuddling and rubbing the genitalia together is a beautiful expression of sex that can feel equally connecting. You can also try sensual massages, or even setting up a pleasure playdate with your partner that can involve intimate touch with or without penetration. 

3. Orgasm may be more difficult to achieve, but that’s okay.

As we age, making orgasm the goal or only end point of sexual activity needs to change, because orgasm may not always be possible. Plus, fixating on orgasm can create stress and disconnection that prevents intimacy from even being possible. Instead focus on the ways you are connecting with your partner, sensual touch, and make the process as enjoyable as orgasm itself. 

4. Sex toys can be your best friends. 

If you haven't experimented with sex toys and gadgets before, it may be time to explore. Many people require more stimulation as they age, and this can be a new and exciting way to try different things to get yourself going. There’s a whole world of sex toys out there, and various toys can provide different types of pleasure. Get excited about sex toy shopping and choose the right toy for you. 

5. You may be your own best partner. 

As we get older, we may feel less inclined to have sexual partners. It’s different for everyone and your sex drive may ebb and flow, but if you’re happy without partnered sex, that’s great. Some woman find a great sense of relief in no longer feeling like they are constantly bothered by the pressure of seeking another person. If you still want pleasure without a partner, however, masturbation not only feels great but is a great self-care practice as well. 

6. You have options to increase your sex drive or make sex better. 

While the medical industry has spent billions on heightening male sexual performance after 50, we are finally seeing a great uptick in interest in female sexuality after 50. A number of products are now on the market that are very effective in improving female sexual desire and orgasmic potential as we age. Beyond trying various lubricants to help with vaginal dryness, you may want to ask your healthcare provider about methods you can try to up your sex drive or help with clitoral sensitivity. Options may vary from hormone therapy to physical therapy for your pelvic floor to even surgery. Everyone’s needs are different so it’s important to consult a doctor about what’s right for you. 

7. You may feel more sexually liberated without kids in the house. 

Sex after 50 can be an opportunity to genuinely connect with our partner and to be fully present without the conscious or subconscious overlay of fertility (either I want to get pregnant or I don't want to get pregnant). If you were once worried about family planning, now sex can become an entirely different experience where you can be fully open to whatever happens. If you did have children, you may also now be empty-nesting. This gives you all the more time to be with your partner or with yourself, and reignite your sex life with more exploration and play without worry of the kids being home. 

8. You might find sex is better because you’re more spiritually present.  

Research has shown that spiritual wellness and happiness with oneself directly affect our sexual satisfaction. Oftentimes, during our 30s and 40s we are overwhelmed with work and family and don't have time to self reflect and let go of emotional baggage. As we get older, we may have had more time to reflect and let go of past hardships. As a result, we may find that we are more mindful and present during sex, which can make the experience even better. Forgiving each other and restoring our relationships are key for healthy and satisfying sex lives in our 50s and beyond.

9. You’ll realize that frequency isn’t everything. 

Although frequency of intercourse doesn’t have to decrease with age. In fact, a subset of individuals and couples may find that sex is better than ever without the pressures of work, children, and busy schedules. As life becomes more complicated we have an opportunity to intentionally carve out more time for physical intimate connection. So while possibly less frequent, sex after 50 can be experienced as more fulfilling with less time pressure.

10. Sex doesn’t have an end date. 

For couples or individuals who desire an ongoing healthy sex life after 50, there is no age at which sex needs to end. We simply need to adapt and become more creative to open up great opportunities and possibilities rather than close doors.

It’s important to realize that the second half of life is not a time for our sexual being to go into hibernation, but rather the opposite. Sex can become a beautiful open playing field in which we can make new discoveries and become more connected than ever before.

Reviewed for Medical Accuracy

Dr. Susan Hardwick-Smith is an award-winning Board Certified Obstetrics and Gynecology physician, author of Sexually Woke, and life coach. She is the founder of Complete Midlife Wellness Center and is dedicated to empowering women to feel fully alive - sexually, relationally, and spiritually.

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