Are you having sex? What does that mean?

It’s important for us to redefine what we mean by “having sex” and being “sexually active,” especially with our changing bodies, relationships, and circumstances as we age.

In my view, “having sex” means doing whatever arouses and pleases us sexually, whether partnered (any gender) or solo, with or without sex toys, with or without orgasm, in any manner that turns us on. 
Did I leave out anything? 
It’s annoying and it doesn’t serve us when “having sex” or “sexually active” only refers to partnered sex, and especially when it only refers to PIV (penis in vagina) sex. Media, researchers, survey takers, doctors, please take note!
I’d like to invite a discussion here. Answer #1 and any of the others that interest you with as much information as you’re willing to share:
  • How old are you, and how would you define “having sex” or being “sexually active” at this age?
  • Do you consider solo sex to be “real” sex? Why or why not?
  • If you were surveyed about whether you are sexually active, how would you answer? What would you mean by that answer?
  • Has your doctor or other medical professional asked you about whether you’re sexually active? 
  • If you asked your doctor or other medical professional about a sex-related concern? How did that go?
Please post your answers as comments here, or if you’re confused about how to do that, email me with “post on blog for me” as your subject header, and I’ll do it for you. (Include a first name of your choice — it doesn’t have to be your own.)
Thank you. I look forward to sharing views with you about this important topic.



  1. Anonymous on September 9, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    I am a 59 year old woman and it's been very long time since I have had partnered sex because of my celibate marriage – not my choice. My husband refuses to discuss the issue and becomes belligerent if I have the audacity speak of it. I was very depressed because of this, his putting me down and telling me in different ways I was a failure as a woman crushed my self esteem. I even asked him to take me dancing so I could feel his arms around me, he refused on the basis he didn't want to push an old biddy around the dance floor – he is 12 years older than me. I took this all to heart, tried harder – nothing worked. Then I tried to quash my sexuality, deny it, ignore it, which didn't work either. One day I realised his cruel words had nothing to do with me and had everything to do with him, a reflection of his insecurity and perceived failings as a man.
    Since that day I have a varied sex life, admittedly solo, to the point I think of that as sex, and sex with another as partnered sex. I can't define when sex begins – is it when I am reading erotica and begin to feel turned on, or awake and become aware of the sheets against my body, or when I go to second life and choose the right shade of lipstick for my avatar with the intention of an erotic encounter with a stranger. My sex life is blissful, my orgasms mindblowing. It took a long time to learn to love myself on every level, particularly after feeling like a failure as a woman for so very long. I feel content and happy within myself. Sometimes I ponder the lack of emotional connection with an intimate partner but this aspect of my life is satisfied by close friendships with other women, my love for my daughters and granddaughters, and my very cute and loveable dog – all of whom accept and love me unconditionally.
    If I was surveyed about being sexually active I expect my answer would depend on the questionnaire. My answer would be yes, unless it further went on to ask about how many partners and that choice started with 1 or more.
    The question of sexual activity always arises at times of health care visits regarding sexual health, ie pap smears. I have been honest about the lack of sex in my marriage and it not being my choice. Even at the times when this was adversely affecting my emotional health this was glossed over by the health care professionals.
    When I have instigated these conversations they essentially pondered out loud about what my husband could do to change this and not addressed my issue which is how I felt and what I could do to feel better about myself. I felt like the only woman on the planet who was desperately desirous of sex and had a totally disinterested husband. Perhaps an explanation that there were other women in my situation, and things I could do to improve my self esteem or a frank discussion about solo sex would have helped, I had thought it a bit grubby and a poor substitute for the real thing. Even the names of some books I could buy about this would have helpful.

  2. Dan age 67 on July 20, 2015 at 11:15 pm

    "having sex" or being "sexually active" at this age?
    ++ no different than any age, I get hard when I see pretty women and I want to do naughty things…still;
    difference? I'm on HRT and I have to read books like yours, Joan, to keep up

    Do you consider solo sex to be "real" sex?
    +++my wife and I try to wank 1x alone each week at least to stay on top of knowing what arouses us as individuals…so we can stay good lovers together; and toys? We've dozens.
    If you were surveyed about whether you are sexually active, how would you answer?

    +++At 67, very. I'm on a men's support group of 8 guys; 4 are 1/2 my age. Nobody talks sex, wanks or gets laid more than me. I'm not giving up here. Some of these guys are 1/2 my age.
    Has your doctor or other medical professional asked you about whether you're sexually active?

    +++Yes, and I bring it up at every visit if she doesn't;, getting help staying on top of my game requires a doc; I just challenged her, my doc, re my Rx Finasteride (BPH med) as it was whacking my a) libido b) erections c) orgasms Not a pleasant Trifecta. I'm off the med. I had to push her to agree for me to be on injectable Testosterone weekly a year ago and give up creams that were NOT working, uping my score from 245 then (low) to 700 now (good)
    If you asked your doctor or other medical professional about a sex-related concern? How did that go?
    +++ always goes good; been doing this for 15+ years w/ the same doc; I wouldn't have a squeamish doc

  3. Anonymous on July 7, 2015 at 9:07 pm

    I am 63 and enjoy an active sexual/sensual life with my 64-year-old male partner (I'm female). Often his erections are not strong enough for intercourse but that doesn't stop us from having delicious, orgasmic intimate experiences. Touching and love making are vital to sustaining and deepening our closeness. I find it takes conscious creativity to keep the sex hot; it's easy to get in a rut and do the same things over and over again.

  4. blogging on July 1, 2015 at 3:54 am

    I've been devoted to yoga and belly dancing since my 40s. I've always been mult-orgasmic but these two activities keep interest. So does regular self care activities like massages. I like myself and don't keep negativity around. My partners are always surprised at my stamina.Changing dietary habits and getting lots of rest in my 50s keeps me same. So do orgasms.

  5. John on June 26, 2015 at 2:03 am

    I am 60 years old and sexually active enjoying both solo and partner sex. My sex drive is higher than my wife's, so I typically initiate a sex date.. I definitely prefer partner sex, but enjoy solo sex in between. O nce we get started with me giving a massage, she gets a roused. Over the last couple of years, since menopause , my wife has experienced pain during vaginal sex, so we have had to reinvent our sex life to include a lot of cuddling with sexual fondling and mutual masturbation. I purchased a few different vibrators that I use to massage her to orgasm , which are a way more intense than she ever had with vaginal sex.

    Several years ago I experienced some problems with ED, which was causing a lot of frustration, so I decided to go to a clinic specializing in male sexual problems and it was a great experience. They weren't judgemental and verified that there wasn't any serious problem.
    I think seeking out help saved our sex life.

  6. Anonymous on June 25, 2015 at 10:13 pm

    I'm 48 and having NO sex in my marriage…sigh…hubby is 9 years older and not interested. What I do by myself I consider an orgasm and not sex…sex is penetration of a penis, not a vibrator.

  7. Bill on June 25, 2015 at 8:23 pm

    I am a 56 yo married bisexual man. For me sex is my greatest joy, and something I do by myself and with selected others! It is always loving and caring. It is slow, and fast. I love kissing more than anything else. I consider any kind of erotic touching sex. No matter if that touching is with fingers, toys, genitals, dildos, lips, et cetera. Mine, or someone else's. I love to give pleasure as much as relieve pleasure.

    I have sex in and out of my marriage. By consent. I have a long time lover who is also married. We are much more experimental and kinky in our relationship with each other than with our spouses, who both have much lower sex drives than my lover and I. We meet for a day of amazing sex about once every three weeks. My lover is 53. With out a doubt I am having the best sex of my life in my 50's.

    I have some kind of sex every day, often by myself!! :))

    • Anonymous on June 25, 2015 at 10:17 pm

      Bill. Great example of alternative sex!! I feel as people get older they should safely "experiment" the non mainstream sex. I am Bisexual and Poly. It makes for a great life all the way through older age.

  8. Charlotte on June 25, 2015 at 8:19 pm

    52 , and define sexually active as still having activity, with self or other(s). I may be on the 'young' end for this blog, but began reading a lot more about sexual activity at older age(s) because I noticed big changes in my body/responses, and sought to address them. Once tested, it was found that my hormone levels were below post-menopausal levels, even though I had yet to experience menopause at the time, so I am glad I addressed it.

    I am active; I have a partner who is in an open marriage; when he is not around, I am active by myself. Solo sex is "real" sex, because it keeps the muscles healthy and working, and it is pleasurable. However it lacks the intimacy and exchange that are integral to sexual activity with another.

    A doctor who was recommended to me specialized in menopausal/post-menopausal support, and yet when I asked about lack of orgasm/difficulty achieving orgasm, he seemed irritable and uninterested. I later changed providers and found someone who was more receptive, perhaps not incidentally, a female.

  9. David M. Pittle on June 25, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    I won't repeat everything Bob said, but I agree with it all. And I'm 78 for the record.
    Damn right. I love my Pulse and I love my electro-stim toys.

    No doctor has ever asked me any question that touched on sex. Even my urologist only responded to my questions–and did so poorly.

    In fact when I did ask, my internist didn't really have any information I couldn't get on the I'net. My urologist got some of it wrong. And I think they were both embarrassed about the sex/age thing.

    It gets worse. I went for a full body exam for skin cancers (You should do this every year or so, but I forget.) The nurse prepped me by having me take off my shirt, shoes and socks. Only after I pressed the issue did the doctor do the rest of my body. That should be malpractice.

  10. Bob on June 24, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    . For me sex is anything that feels comfortable. Be it masturbation solo or with a partner. And all the other good things you already mentioned. Even curling up with some one and watching a porn flick seems to be a good form of sex fun. I am all for nudity. Also group fun can be a good way to play.

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