Masturbation is a harsh-sounding word for an activity that’s immensely pleasurable and self-loving. It’s sex with the person who knows you the best: yourself. Self-pleasuring is delicious sex, and it doesn’t matter how old we are, what gender, whether or not we have a partner, if arousal and orgasms are our happy place or we’ve grown up to think of masturbation as shameful. Sexual pleasure is within our own power.
Here are some reasons that we, as seniors, might want to enjoy solo sex:
5 Reasons to Self-Pleasure
- What used to bring you to orgasm doesn’t do it anymore. Our responses change as we age, and what aroused us in the past may not work best for us now. The best way to figure out what does work now is to experiment on your own. What kind of touch do you like? Where, exactly? What pace? What intensity? The most direct way to stay in tune with what you need for sexual pleasure is to experiment with your own hands — and, of course, sex toys. Once you find the path to pleasure on your own, you can teach it to your partner if you have one. And if you don’t, that doesn’t have to mean a lack of orgasms!
- You don’t have a partner. Many of us have no sexual partner at this time in our lives. Too often, I hear this from older women: “When I meet someone, I’ll think about sex again. Until then, it doesn’t matter.” It does matter. If we put sex on hold for months, years, decades, it will be much more difficult to enjoy sex if a partner does show up later on. It’s up to us to stay healthy and sexually vibrant with regular arousal and orgasms. Even if you don’t care about being partnered again, sex with yourself is important for health and wellbeing.
- You have a partner, but little or no sexual interaction, or it doesn’t lead to orgasm for you. Many of us can’t have full sexual expression with our partners due to medical or relationship issues. Perhaps one partner has lost interest or is no longer able to engage sexually, so the other gives up on sex. Or you and your partner are no longer sexually attracted to each other, but for other reasons, you want to stay together. Maybe what you need is not what your partner is able or willing to give you, or you don’t know how to ask for it.
- Orgasms are gifts you can give yourself. Our reason to masturbate doesn’t have to be because something else isn’t going well. It can be because we like it, we know how to please ourselves and we’re good at giving ourselves orgasms. It can be as simple and as joyful as that.
- Best reason of all: it just feels good!
How to Make Solo Sex Work for You
From planning to sex toys, take these steps to give yourself the best chance for an orgasmic experience.
Make a date with yourself. Don’t leave self-pleasuring to chance. Our arousal capability ebbs and flows, so schedule your dates with yourself during the time of day when you feel most sexually charged: your “tingle time,” as I call it. Not sure when that is? Orgasms are easier before a meal, not afterward, and not when you’re tired. You might get aroused most easily in the early morning after your first cup of coffee, or just before lunch, or after a quick afternoon nap. Experiment to find out what your special time is. Set aside enough private time to enjoy the experience without rushing.
Exercise first. Be physical in your daily life. Exercise increases blood flow. This translates to sexual arousal, because the blood flows to your genitals as well as to your muscles, making arousal easier and faster. For surprisingly effective results, exercise right before your solo sex time.
Prepare. Have everything ready that you might want: lubricant, a small towel, massage oil, pillows for hip, back and neck comfort. Leave your phone and computer in another room, gather your favorite sex toys and settle in for pleasure. You don’t have a favorite sex toy, or you’ve never used one?? Read “Vibrators for Seniors – especially for first-timers.”
Set the mood. Read erotica if you enjoy it (try Ageless Erotica, by and for our age group!), play music, write sexy thoughts in your journal, take a bath, massage your body slowly—whatever turns you on. You might like candlelight, lingerie, visual stimulation…Let your imagination run wild.
Choose your lube. A lubricant that keeps you moist and slick will increase comfort and intensify your pleasure. Keep the lube within reach so you can reapply frequently. Choosing a lube that contains only healthy ingredients is important: try Wicked Sensual Care’s simply® timeless line developed for menopause and beyond!
Explore your body slowly. Sometimes racing to an orgasm is fun, but at other times, take time to slow down and explore all your erogenous zones and the kind of sensual stimulation you like. Maybe you like your breasts or thighs stroked, or maybe there’s a special place on your neck or the inside of your wrist that makes you shiver when touched just right. You may discover that the kind of touch that turns you on and/or the places you like to be touched are different now than they used to be, so don’t rely on past history.
Use sex toys and other erotic helpers. Our hormonally challenged bodies often need extra help to reach orgasm these days, and our wrists may tire before we reach our goal. That’s where your vibrator comes in. Use it on a low speed to get aroused, then turn up the intensity to take yourself to orgasm. Or you might experiment with having an assortment of toys charged and ready, and switching as you wish.
Fantasize. Let your fingers and sex toys help you imagine an intimate date with… who comes to mind? Let yourself explore fantasy scenes and partners. Your brain is your main sex organ, so invite your fantasy to your private party. No fantasy is “wrong,” and no one has to know what images or scenarios turn you on.
Why Are We Reluctant or Embarrassed to Self-Pleasure?
If masturbation is good for our physical, emotional and relationship health, why is it so hard for us to talk about or even think about it? We were brought up during a sex-negative era, meaning that we were taught that sex and sexual desire were shameful, sexual pleasure was never discussed, and our sex education was mainly “don’t do it.”
That applied to masturbation, too, although you’d think a culture that wanted us to delay partner sex would encourage this safe and private outlet. But no, we were taught that our genitals are dirty and we shouldn’t touch them, except for hygienic needs.
We’ve thrown off many restrictive teachings from our early youth, thank goodness. But for many of us, this one is especially tenacious, filled with shame and guilt. Girls, especially, were taught, “Don’t touch yourself down there. It’s dirty.” Can we change that view of ourselves and our needs now? Touching ourselves is healthy — orgasms are good for us, and hurray, we can give them to ourselves.
What To Do If You’re Not Inspired
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. If it’s already difficult for you to arouse yourself to orgasm, that’s a good reason to masturbate more rather than less. Sexual arousal and orgasm bring blood flow to the genitals and help to tone our pelvic floor muscles. The more we do it, the easier it becomes. Give yourself at least a couple of orgasms a week and you’ll feel the difference. You’ll find that the physical arousal will happen that will trigger your emotional arousal, which triggers more physical arousal, until it’s all working just right.
Solo sex is a lovely gift you can give yourself. Instead of seeing it as a poor substitute for partner sex, see it as a celebration that your body is still capable of such delights. Give yourself this gift often, whenever you want. I wish you joy!
Parts of this article first appeared in “A Senior’s Guide to Solo Sex” in Senior Planet, February 2017.