Just Getting Warmed Up: The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50

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It wasn’t that long ago that we—society—generally thought that older people just weren’t having sex. We thought that sex drive and libido shrivelled up and that thoughts of retirement in Florida were paramount in the lives of our seniors. Turns out this notion is completely wrong and that older people are definitely still interested in maintaining and exploring their sexual selves, and the inimitable Joan Price has is here. With her standout book The Ultimate Guide to Sex after Fifty (Cleis Press), she has collected excellent advice and tips for anyone who is older and frisky for fun.

Check out an excerpt from The Ultimate Guide to Sex after Fifty by Joan Price that shows her excellent understanding of the specific needs of seniors in the sexual world.  

First Time Anxiety

The first time we had sex, it was very difficult for me. I froze every time he touched me. I would not let his hands touch certain parts of my body, and only took off enough clothes to accomplish what we needed to accomplish.

Sometimes getting sexual with a new lover isn’t fabulous. We’re nervous and anxious, and often our bodies seem to be saying, “Say, what?” instead of “Go, go!”

We may be self-conscious about our looks, or our ability. Sometimes it’s all awkward fumbling, not knowing how to please this unfamiliar person, not knowing how to communicate about how we want to be pleased. The sights, sounds, and smells are all different. Maybe grief wells up—this is not the person who used to share our bed and our body.

Sometimes it’s physical discomfort, or lack of stimulation, or fear that it won’t work. We may find ourselves very aware that we’re no longer driven by our hormones (which would have let us overlook all of this in the past). We may even wish we hadn’t started.

Anxiety doesn’t lead to good sex. The brain is our primary sex organ, transmitting physical sensations, desire, pleasure, and a sense of well-being. But anxiety short-circuits the pleasure and causes the “flight or fight” response—we’re on guard, not relaxed; ready to bolt, not receive pleasure.

This is not only an emotional reaction. Anxiety also sends blood away from our genitals—exactly the opposite of what we need at our age! Penises deflate, vaginas get dry and tight. A worried mind kills pleasure.

Performance anxiety—it’s not just for the young. As if we didn’t have enough to deal with at our age, inhibitions, fears, body image, and feelings of inadequacy are rearing their ugly little heads in our bedrooms and interfering with our sensual enjoyment. Here are a few worries you might recognize, and solutions for minimizing their impact.

Women worry that decreased lubrication will make sex painful, and our partners may think we’re not attracted to them because we don’t have that tangible sign of arousal. This is an easy fix—make lubricant part of the love play, and explain to your partner that you just don’t lubricate as much as you used to, but that has nothing to do with how aroused you are.

Likewise, communication is the best antidote to the embarrassment that comes with slow arousal and orgasm. Just explain that it’s physical, and give yourself more time. Tell your partner what you need.

Men have a much more visible issue to deal with. It’s natural for erections to be less hard and less reliable with age, and that causes men considerable anxiety, especially if they think that the only “real” sex is intercourse. “Erection is such a defining element of men’s sexuality that when it falters, many men find it unnerving and they think: I can’t do it anymore,” says Michael Castleman, MA, who publishes www.Great SexAfter40.com. “Older sex for men is less about erection and more about learning how to enjoy lovemaking without inter- course,” he advises. (Learn much more about this in chapter 12, Sex without Erections.)

Some tips for overcoming performance anxiety:

  • Be present and appreciate what is going on, rather than getting upset about what is missing.
  • If erections are unreliable or out of the picture, spend more time on sexually exciting and satisfying activities that don’t require erections at all: stimulate each other with hands and mouth, use sex toys if you enjoy them, massage each other (not skipping intimate areas), and whisper racy words.
  • Laughter is a great anxiety reliever. If you can joke and play, you’ll overcome the first-time anxiety more easily.
  • If you’re nervous about sex, just cuddle and kiss without goals. You’ll feel closer and more relaxed by eliminating the pressure of what is supposed to happen. Concentrate on the plea- sure and sensation that’s happening right now.
  • Choose intimacy over anxiety. Tell your partner what about him or her turns you on. We all love to hear that!

It’s often a choice whether to let a sexual change be an ever- worsening problem or an opportunity for new, sexy disco eries. Which path do you choose?

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