By Leslie Pepper
When Maggie, 55, from Flagstaff, AZ, was younger, she could not imagine herself having good sex after age 50. In fact, she couldn't imagine having any sex at that age. But her views have changed drastically since then. "I am having the best sex of my life!" she says.
Maggie is in good company. A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that women don't stop having sex at midlife at all. In fact, they continue to engage in sexual activity as they age, even if they struggle with sexual problems.
"Men and women achieve in their 50s a level of emotional maturity combined with sexual self-confidence that makes it possible for them to enjoy a superior intimate relationship," says Joel Block, Ph.D., a psychologist in Long Island, NY, and the author of Sex Over 50 (Updated and Expanded; Perigee, 2008). "The quality of sex definitely improves and continues to remain high for decades."
Yes, sex can be exciting, engaging and energizing throughout your life. And when the occasional obstacle crops up, it can usually be easily resolved. Following are some of the reasons sex can be better than ever as you get older.
1. You're Less Stressed
You probably have more free time than when you were younger, which equals more energy to enjoy your moments in the bedroom. You're more established in your career so you spend less time working nights and weekends and you have fewer financial worries. "Sex is always better when you’re not stressed," says Christina Steinorth, a psychotherapist located in Dallas, TX.
Of course, if you've been preoccupied with kids and work for years, you may have put your sex life on autopilot for a while. Break out of that rut by doing something different. "The key to sexual desire is anticipation," says Barry McCarthy, Ph.D., professor of psychology at American University and author of Rekindling Desire (Routledge, 2013). Shake things up by renting an erotic video, sending each other sexy texts, or taking a shower together.
2. You've Got More Privacy
When you were younger, you had to make sure the door was locked and your voices were hushed. You were lucky if you could squeeze 20 minutes of affection in between your son's violin lessons and your husband's business trips.
Even if your kids are still in the house, they're probably pretty self-sufficient and aren't likely to be barging through your bedroom door for a glass of water in the middle of the night. So you've got plenty of timeand spaceto indulge in some afternoon delight or take a leisurely soak in the tub together.
3. You're Done Having Babies
"Few things are less romantic than having to reach for birth control during lovemaking," says Steinorth. Once you hit menopause, it's a lot easier to be spontaneous.
What's more, your actions in the bedroom can feel freer when you're not worrying about an unplanned pregnancy. "When that anxiety is gone, you can let loose and be more in the moment with your partner," Steinorth says.
That said, menopause can cause some sexual concerns like vaginal dryness and low libido. Take advantage of the many lubricants available now. Several of these can enhance not just lubrication, but pleasure as well. Try a few different brands to see what works for you.
As for low libido, Steinorth notes that often comes from a disconnect with your partner. Her suggestions? Touch and touch oftenthis will help get things going on the right track. Hold hands when you walk down the block, sit next to each other when you watch television in the evening and hug throughout the day.
"Sex for women is so much more than just sex; it's the touching, the romantic and sexy words, the loving and fun times that we spend with our partners that make us feel sexual toward them. When that happens we have an increased desire to be with them," she says. (If you find yourself feeling connected with your partner but still lack the desire to be intimate, see a doctor to rule out anything physical.)
From our sister publication REMEDY's Healthy Living Summer 2014