Solo Sex is Real Sex

March 2020: I’m spotlighting this post, originally written for Valentine’s Day 2016,  for a couple of reasons: (1) I have so many new readers now; (2) This post drew some marvelous reader comments, and I hope to encourage more!  

“We need to acknowledge that solo sex (solo masturbation) is real sex,” I asserted, and ten people in the audience quoted me on Twitter immediately. I was speaking at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit in August 2015. This was my first time attending Woodhull, and it was an amazing experience:

The Sexual Freedom Summit features human rights activists, sexuality educators and researchers, professionals from the legal and medical fields, authors, sexual freedom movement leaders and organizational partners all working toward the time when sexual freedom is fully recognized as a fundamental human right.

It seems to me that “sexual freedom” includes freeing ourselves from our society’s outdated notions, especially as they restrict us, as seniors, from full sexual expression.  No one is standing at our bedroom door proclaiming, “Thou shalt not masturbate” — at least I hope not — but many of us have internalized the idea that giving ourselves sexual pleasure is wrong, or a depressing substitute for “real” — aka “partner” — sex.

At our age, accepting self-pleasuring as “real” sex is even more important than it was in our youth. Here are some reasons:

the ultimate guide to sex book: solo sex

  1. Many of us do not have a sexual partner at this time of our lives.
  2. Many of us who do have a partner are not able to have full sexual expression with that partner, due to medical or relationship issues.
  3. Our retreating hormones and decreased blood flow make it easy to forget about sex because there’s less urgency. Yet the less we experience arousal and orgasm, the more difficult it is to get there when we want to.
  4. Our responses change as we age, and the most direct way to stay in tune with what we need for sexual pleasure is to experiment with our own hands — and, of course, sex toys.
  5. Sexual arousal and orgasm are good for physical and emotional health. In The Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50, I list 33 reasons why sex is good for you — and by sex, I mean with or without a partner.

For those of you who would tell me (as people do, surprisingly), “Hey, masturbation is inferior to sex with a loving partner,” I would answer, “There’s nothing inferior about sex with the person who knows you best.” Plus the obvious — “How nice that you have a loving partner. Many of us don’t.”

Whether we’re pleasuring ourselves because it’s sex with ourselves or no sex, or we enjoy private sex, or maybe we just want to have fantasy sex with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, let’s agree that solo sex is not only real sex — it’s delightful sex.

Readers of my Naked at Our Age Facebook page (which I hope you’ll “like”), had this to add:

  • We are 58 and 57 and we both enjoy solo sex. Sometimes, we do it together. Watching can be quite erotic but more often, we’ll do it before bed (usually separately in that case) to help us sleep. Mrs. has a variety of vibrators and we’re both definitely in favor. – Mr. and Mrs. Average Joe, erotica author.
  • I’m a 67 y.o. man, and in the famous words of Woody Allen, I’m good at sex (with women) because I practice a lot when I ‘m alone. (;-). Seriously, it has a lot to do with why I’m still so erotically alive. And yes, incorporating mutual self-stimulation into play with partners is really exciting, and in some ways can feel even more emotionally intimate than PIV [penis in vagina].
  • I’m 53. I have been going solo for the past 11 years (not by choice), now that I am single I am looking forward to having a partner once again. The solo sex has been a necessity!
  • I am 50. In my community sex is forbidden to singles and there is controversy about whether masturbation, therefore, is ‘sinful.’ My stance is masturbation is not sinful and not forbidden to those of us who are unmarried. I think “Solo Sex is Real Sex” but my Christian community may not accept such a statement.
  • I am 58 and flown solo for quite a few years. On the one hand, it’s nice because I know all the best places and the exact technique. On the other, it’s obviously not as much fun as having a partner. However, that’s not always possible and I much prefer it over climbing into bed with a jerk. I wish I had more money for some of the great toys you’ve shown. I might never want a partner again if I did.

As Valentine’s Day approaches (note: I originally wrote this post for Valentine’s Day) and we’re bombarded with commercial messages about how to make the day more romantic with our loved one (soft lighting, mellow music, gifts of chocolate and roses included), let’s remember this:

Love starts with how we feel about ourselves, how giving and patient and accepting and loving we can be with the person who’s been in our life the longest. Let’s celebrate that with our own special touch (so to speak).

As always, I invite you to comment.**But please don’t try to spam my blog by promoting products, vendors,  escorts, or magic potions. And please, don’t try to use this blog as a hook-up opportunity by posting your phone number and an offer to my readers. Enough of that, folks! That’s why I moderate comments.


  1. John Wocken on August 11, 2022 at 2:51 pm

    Masturbation is sex. It can be wonderful sex and it can be ideal for many of us at different stages of life. I had some wonderful relationships including a fantastic marriage of over 30 years, but as a now retired widower, I don’t have the desire or energy to marry again or immerse myself in any kind of relationship or familial drama. (I have enough of my own, thank you very much!)

    I do, however, still have a healthy libido. I am able to enjoy pleasure on my terms without reservation. It is still fun for me, and I relish my self-love experiences.

  2. DWIGHT ANDERSON on May 21, 2020 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Joan I am Dwight from Springfield, MA May I say I have such a huge crush on you Mrs. Price. Anyway I heard that you are discussing topics about masturbation. Yes I do masturbate a lot in order to satisfy my sexual urge. But I also sleep naked every night & wake up naked every day. I also love downloading porno online every night after dark. Masturbation, Porno, Nudity & Wild Sexual Fantasies is a must in my solo sex life.
    I don’t have any guilt or shame on Self Pleasure because it’s a very natural, normal & very sexual activity.

  3. Dave 81 on March 2, 2020 at 2:55 am

    As usual Joan, great advice and a good insight to our needs and wants as sexual seniors. Unfortunately, my upbringing and religiosity still impacts my lack of enthusiasm for self pleasuring, I am still angry with the Catholic Church for stressing all the negative things about masturbation and the enormous amount of guilt I carried around for many….many tears.
    Having said that, both my wife and I enjoy watching each other self pleasure and are much closer to each other, both mentally and physically because of this, I guess it is the ultimate sign of trust to lay yourself bare in front of your lover.
    Solo is way less satisfying……for me.

  4. Amy on June 1, 2016 at 4:31 pm

    Jeffrey Dean Morgan is a real hunk of a man. I couldn't agree more with your post.

  5. Dan on May 27, 2016 at 3:21 pm

    A decade back, when dating, looking for a wife, I asked the question. On the 1st date. "Do you touch yourself? Self pleasure?" Then I'd find a gracious way to ask if they were orgasmic. Some things that are important you got to know up front. BTW, I had success with this. Been married to an orgasmic wanker now for some time. Thanks for your inspiration, Joan.

  6. Arrman Mia on May 22, 2016 at 4:29 pm

    Admin, if not okay please remove!

    Our facebook group “selfless” is spending this month spreading awareness on prostate cancer & research with a custom t-shirt design. Purchase proceeds will go to, as listed on the shirt and shirt design.


    • Joan Price on May 23, 2016 at 12:04 am

      I like what you're doing. Thank you for the gracious note.

  7. Mahala on May 5, 2016 at 9:39 pm

    You had me at Jeffrey Dean Morgan.

  8. Bob age 49 on May 4, 2016 at 7:14 pm

    Man-sturbation involves the use of a man (or woman) as a sex toy…either method is like taking a Tylenol for a headache, or eating fast food to alleviate hunger (satisfying and gratifying yet relatively unfullfilling). Love-making, on the other hand (pardon the pun), is the equivalent to cooking a gourmet meal with someone you adore and then sensually feeding each other every last bite. (I should add that the views expressed are only the opinion of the writer and in no way imply a universal truth applicable to all.)

  9. Joan Price on May 4, 2016 at 6:46 pm

    I was worried when the Jeffrey Dean Morgan fan club tweeted that they were disappointed in me. Uh oh. I was relieved to find out that the reason for their disapproval was just that they didn't agree with my choice of photo, not any objection to my blog topic and his role in it. Whew.

  10. Anonymous on May 2, 2016 at 6:53 pm

    I recently restarted having sex with a woman and I must say I surprised myself with rock hard erections.I continue to jerk off but not nearly as often because I need,more refractory time between sexual relations with my woman. I am,64 and have been masturbating for almost 60 years and I can't imagine a time when I stop playing with myself. However,coming in my woman is still at the top!

  11. David M. Pittle on March 19, 2016 at 5:45 pm

    Delighted to read your column always, but especially this one. (I would have liked to be at Woodhull, but both schedule and finances prevented it.)

    Solo sex is important for many reasons. The value of continuing orgasms throughout life has been demonstrated in studies in New Zealand and here in the US(Harvard).

    In my practice find a different perspective on life between those who practice self-love and those who don't. It is certainly not an "approved" therapy tool, but when I see someone who exhibits depression, I often ask the question,when was the last time you had an orgasm either with a partner or solo. (Yes, I am judicious about asking only when appropriate.) The answer is almost always a version of "Well,it has been a long time since I felt like having sex."

    I have even prescribed a solo version of what we sex therapists call Sensate Focus exercises. (Men are more reluctant than women.)

    Thanks again for all your wisdom.

  12. Dan on February 12, 2016 at 1:46 pm

    A decade married and a guy in my mid 60s, my wife and I agree to go solo at least once a week so we can stay in touch with our fantasies and our bodies as we get older. So we can have more to give each other when we get together. Yes, it’s better together but we have different schedules and so we shoot for 2x w/ each other a week and a minimum of 1x alone. My wife comes only with a vibrator whether alone or with me; I use a vibrator 1/3 of the time to come myself; but more important for me is the setting. By plan, 90% of the time with me it is outdoors. In the sunshine. I want to share my body and my joy with God and the angels and His creation. And I love the sun on my skin as I wank; 100% naked is best. So I find a private place in the backyard. And for me, as to “solo”? For a guy that’s a fiction I think. I CANNOT come w/o a fantasy; be it solo or with my wife. I’m ALWAYS having some kind of sex with someone else or someone is watching in my head, masturbation or intercourse with my wife. No fantasy? No arousal. No arousal? No finish. And I like a good finish. And, my wife and I totally support each other with this thinking and fantasizing about others as we ramp up, solo or together.

  13. Anonymous on February 10, 2016 at 4:05 pm

    I have always loved sex and my husband I had a great sex together. When he passed on Valentines day, I wasn't sure how I was going to handle that part of my life. It didn't take me long to realize I had all the tools I needed to satisfy myself. We had purchased many toy's and I certainly put them to good use. Looking back I can see this was truly a time to get to know myself and I found new places within my body that I never knew existed.
    Thank you for your newsletters and tips. Playing with myself or someone else is an amazing experience.

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