Are you new to sex toys and nervous about buying one? Why should you even care about vibrators? You got this far in life without one, so what’s the big deal? Read on to learn more about vibrators for seniors.
A well-chosen, well-placed vibrator can be the difference between orgasm and no orgasm for seniors – it’s sometimes that simple.
Many older bodies need more intense stimulation than fingers or a mouth or partner’s genitals can provide. Our own or a lover’s hand and other body parts may feel wonderful and arousing, but many of us feel stuck without more intensity: vibrator-quality intensity.
If this rings true for you, you’re not defective – this is just how your body works. Lucky for us, there are many excellent options guaranteeing that you can find one – or many! – that get you from arousal to orgasm.
What do seniors need?
I started reviewing vibrators on this blog in 2009, when I was a mere youth of 66. The older I got, the fussier I became about the sex toy qualities that work best for seniors and for me personally. Now I review products “from a senior perspective” because the needs of older bodies differ from younger folks. For example:
- We need vibrators that give us intense sensation when needed. Our hormones and blood flow no longer rush to arouse us, so we need more powerful stimulation to rev us up. Many of us can’t reach orgasm without it. If we’re longtime vibrator users, we may find that a toy from our past is no longer strong enough.
- We need vibrators that don’t quit on us. Arousal is slower and less dependable for most of us. Our vibrators need to warm us up and stay with us for as long as we need, without overheating, losing their charge, or irritating sensitive tissues.
- We want comfort. Older vulvas and vaginas are more delicate than they were in our youth. Despite needing more sensation, most of us don’t want hard materials or pounding pressure. We may need cushioning between the strong, rumbling vibrations and our sensitive skin.
- We want ergonomic design. Arthritic wrists and hands are common. It hurts when we must bend or twist our wrist to hold a toy in position. We like strong vibrations on our genitals but not pulsing through our hands. The best designed vibrators let us concentrate on our pleasure without worrying how long our wrists can hold out.
- Many of us want slimmer insertable toys. Vulva owners who enjoy vaginal penetration may require a slim fit for comfort now. Learn what you need for your own comfort. Check the dimensions of the thickest insertable part of a product before ordering.
- We require body-safe materials. Some of the cheapest toys (especially knock-offs from shady stores or Amazon) are made of toxic materials that don’t belong anywhere near the fragile skin of aginggenitals. Purchase quality products from known vendors.
- Penis vibrators, no erection required. Penis owners benefit from the extra stimulation of vibrators. Older penises may have unreliable erections or ED, but they can still feel pleasure and reach orgasm with the right stimulation. They need sex toys that don’t require an erection to use it, unlike the “masturbation sleeve” products. Creative companies like Hot Octopuss and Fun Factory have designed powerful vibrators that work even when the penis is semi-hard or flaccid.
- Bonus points for easy controls. We want controls we can see and differentiate, even with slippery, lubed fingers. What a buzz kill when we meant to press “power up” for stronger intensity, and instead we hit “power off”! Please, sex toy manufacturers, don’t make us grab our reading glasses mid-action. Give us controls we can adjust by touch.
How do I know what I want?
If you’re a sex toy novice, don’t buy the first product that looks good in an ad or on the shelf. Obviously, you can’t take it to a back room to give it an orgasmic whirl before buying, but this process will help you choose:
- What do you personally need to orgasm? There are so many different shapes, sizes, and styles of vibrators, and we’re all different in what works for us. Read my “How to Choose a Vibrator” to narrow your choices. Answer the 8 questions there to narrow down your choices.
- Watch my Sex Toys for Seniors webinar. This 90-minute crash course in sex toys for seniors covers what vibrators can do for you that a hand or partner can’t, how to choose the best one(s) for you, busting myths about vibrator use (such as whether it will desensitize you and how to address a partner’s objections), and much more. I show you a large selection of highly recommended vibrators and help you decide if they’re right for you. See my webinar page for pricing.
- Read reviews (such as mine from a senior perspective) to get a better idea of how certain toys work for some people. Use reviews to further narrow down your choices. Learn to discern between a review (someone personally tested the product and reports on the experience) and a marketing promotion (designed to sell the product, not help you evaluate if it’s for you).
- Emphasize quality over cost if you can afford it. The higher-priced items don’t cut corners in product design, body-safe materials, and reliability. They’ll last longer, too.
- Learn as much as you can about the products you’re considering, asking yourself, “Which one(s) would be right for my needs, my challenges, my preferences? If there’s a progressive, education-based sex toy store in your area, visit in person. If not, purchase from online retailers that emphasize customer satisfaction and an openness to the needs of our age group, such as the ones I link to in reviews and on my blog’s right-hand column.
I originally wrote a slightly different version of this post for the Lion’s Den blog. You can see the original here.
Think of the Rocketeer Vibrating Penis Enhancer Sheath as a “booster rocket” for self-pleasuring. When I saw ads for it, I was eager to try it out. Rocketeer is an innovative sheath that wraps partially around and sits atop your erect penis. It attaches to your member and around your scrotum via three stretchy loops. The nine-speed motor is easy to turn on and off. Rocketeer is waterproof, relatively quiet, made of silicone, and recharges easily through a USB cable provided. It is a unique new design. What’s not to like?
I was very excited when the Rocketeer made by Gender X arrived from Betty’s Toy Box. I charged it, cleaned it thoroughly, and prepared to take it for a ride. But it didn’t fit me properly. Only two rings of the potential “three ring circus” this toy promises attached to me. The one that stretched around my scrotum went on easily and comfortably, as did the one that looped around the base of my penis. But the ring meant to encircle my erect penis head flopped forlornly nearly an inch too far away. Imagine my frustration!
The packaging for Rocketeer mentions that it is 6.06 inches long. But I didn’t expect that it would only fit those with erections of that length or greater. Alfred Kinsey was a pioneer in sexuality research who made many important contributions. Unfortunately, one of those, published in the 1960s, was based upon highly problematic data: self-reports from men who measured their own erect penises. From that flawed information Kinsey and colleagues concluded that average erect penis size was over 6 inches. Evidently, Rocketeer’s designers relied upon this outdated information.
In the half century since Kinsey’s work, many more careful studies of erect penis length have been done. These use measurements taken by health professionals rather than provided from self reports. The resultant more accurate data show that human erect penis length forms a statistically normal distribution: the average is between 5.1 and 5.5 inches. The range between 4.5 inches and 5.8 inches covers 68 percent of the men measured, and from 3.9 inches to 6.3 inches covers 95 percent of the variance.
An erection measuring 6 inches lies in the top 15 percent for penis length, and an erect penis of 6.3 inches is in the 95th percentile, which means only 5 out of every 100 exceed that length. These data highlight Rocketeer’s major problem: the toy has been constructed to fit an erect penis of 6.06 inches or more. That design miscalculation means that it will not properly fit the great majority of its potential customers!
The photographs below show Rocketeer mounted on dildos of different sizes. Granted, these dildos don’t have scrotums, but you get the idea of the fit.
Given my frustration, I tried a work-around to see if I could experience at least some of the sensations the toy might offer. I doubled the penis head ring back on itself and placed it onto my member so that, bunched up, it remained briefly in place. I then pulled a condom over this bundle. That snugged it enough so I could start the motor and receive at least a modicum of the motor’s patterns.
While these felt good in a low-level sort of way, I felt cheated. And I’m afraid this toy will disappoint any owner of an erect penis measuring less than 6.06 inches in length. I can’t speak for those who measure more. While the basic plan of Rocketeer is a good one, unless Gender X remakes it in a length that will fit more than a mere 15 percent of their intended market, I’m afraid their rocket has misfired.
If your erection length is right for the Rocketeer, watch Carolyn’s upbeat video about ways you can use it for solo and partner fun, including during intercourse. Although Rocketeer Vibrating Penis Enhancer Sheath didn’t work for me, I wish to emphasize that Betty’s Toy Box is a great source of excellent products. I encourage you to visit their site. Use this link and the coupon code JOAN10 for a 10% discount off any purchase.
Learn more about erect penis length:
- “Average-Size Erect Penis: Fiction, Fact, and the Need for Counseling,” Journal of Sex & Marital Therapy.
- “The Average Penis Size For a Male Isn’t as Big as You Think,” Men’s Health UK.
—Shamus MacDuff, age 79, was oblivious to the delights of sex toys for penises until about 5 years ago. He’s been making up for lost time! Read his other posts here.
“I just don’t feel desire anymore,” many senior women tell me. They miss the excitement, pleasure, and intimacy of sex, and they ask me how to fix this. Others have decided that they’re done with sex and wish their partners would stop pressuring them. Often the lovers and spouses are the ones who reach out to me: “My partner doesn’t desire sex with me anymore, and it’s killing me.”
Many seniors find that sex continues to be terrific, even better than ever, and finally we’re talking out loud about that. But those who avoid sex out of lack of desire usually think that’s just the way things are when we age — but that’s not true!
Spontaneous vs responsive desire
As we age and hormones recede, we may not feel that biological urge or drive for sex anymore. Our bodies and brain don’t automatically kick into gear, even with someone who would have inspired us to peel off our clothes a few decades ago. In fact, there’s nothing “automatic” about our sexual responses at all. That doesn’t mean you don’t feel desire. It means you don’t feel “spontaneous desire,” which is biologically driven, propelled by hormones.
As we age, spontaneous desire wanes, that’s normal. But that isn’t the only way to experience desire, and it doesn’t have to close down our sexual pleasure.
“Responsive desire” means that you feel desire in response to pleasure and arousal. In other words, instead of having sex because you feel desire in advance, you’re letting yourself relax and open to the pleasure and stimulation of physiological arousal. Then the desire will kick in.
How do you know if this is relevant to you personally? Do you ever resist sex at first because you’re not particularly in the mood, but once you get started, your arousal grows and then you’re really into it? That’s responsive desire. That’s especially true if, at the end, you say, “Wow, that was good. Why don’t we do that more often?”
As Emily Nagoski, Ph. D, explains in Come As You Are: The Surprising New Science That Will Transform Your Sex Life:
The standard narrative of sexual desire is that it just appears – you’re sitting at lunch or walking down the street, maybe you see a sexy person or think a sexy thought, and pow! You’re saying to yourself, “I would like some sex!” This is how it works for maybe 75 percent of men and 15 percent of women…That’s “spontaneous” desire.
But some people find that they begin to want sex only after sexy things are already happening. And they’re normal. They don’t have “low” desire, they don’t suffer from any ailment… Their bodies just need some more compelling reason than, “That’s an attractive person right there,” to want sex.
For more about women’s sexual desire and response, I heartily recommend Nagoski’s book. Read more about spontaneous vs. responsive desire.
How to talk with your partner
Lack of communication makes lack of desire far worse. The jilted partner thinks, “It’s me. My lover doesn’t desire me anymore.” The partner who’s been turned away over and over feels frustrated, alone, unloved, unwanted. They may decide that cheating, leaving, or becoming a monk are the only options. Soon it’s not just sex that feels mismatched — it’s the whole relationship.
Don’t let that happen. Talk to each other openly, lovingly, without blame. Listen to each other without interrupting. Ask for clarification. When you respond to the other, explain your feelings without arguing or coming across as defensive.
Read these sample scripts. Would one of them help get you started? If not, write your own.
• “I admit I’ve been resisting sex lately and I know this hurts you. I love you very much, and I’d like to explain what’s going on for me and hear how you feel.”
• “I’m having difficulty feeling sexual desire. It’s not you — it’s how my body is working these days. I’ve learned about something called ‘responsive desire’ that I’d like to tell you about. Then let’s try it.”
• “I’d like to try a no-goals cuddle time where we’re naked in bed, holding each other, with no assumption that it has to lead to sex. If it does, we’ll enjoy it. But if it doesn’t, we’ll still enjoy holding each other.”
If you can’t have this kind of conversation on your own successfully, please enlist the help of an age-positive, sex-positive couples’ counselor or a sex therapist. The future of your relationship may depend on it.
What to do instead of waiting to be in the mood
(excerpted from “Getting Your Mojo Back” in The Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50:
How to Maintain – or Regain – a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life)
I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to approach our sexuality in this new way: Relax, start getting physically aroused, emotional arousal will happen, and voila, we’ll be in the mood. So the key is to commit to regular sex, partnered or solo. How does this translate to real life?
Here are some tips:
• Schedule sex dates with your partner and/or with yourself.
• Create rituals with your partner that signal sex would be welcome.
• Allow plenty of time for warm up.
• Make sex a habit. The more you do it, the more you’ll want to do it.
“You may have just saved my marriage,” a woman told me after I explained responsive desire at a presentation. Incorporate this into your sex life — you may feel the same!
This article originally appeared as part of Lion’s Den Senior Sex Month, July 2022, at https://www.lionsden.com/blog/when-desire-changes.
I am so happy that “Good Luck to You, Leo Grande” exists! This film portrays older-age sexual yearning, curiosity, shame, and nervousness accurately and beautifully. The film stars Emma Thompson, age 62, as a widow/retired religious education teacher who has never had an orgasm, and Daryl McCormack, age 29, as the sex worker she hires for a bucket list of missed sexual opportunities.
I’m 78, and I never expected to see a film with such tender authenticity about a senior woman wanting to explore her sexual pleasure with a gentle, respectful, vulnerable, and gorgeous male sex worker.
Is she ageist because she wants a young man?
I read objections from several of you on social media who saw this as ageist. I don’t see it that way. She had sex with only one man in her life: her husband, whose idea of sex was get on, get in, get off, go to sleep. She wants transactional sex with a man who prioritizes her pleasure, who will serve her without his own agenda, and whose youthful appearance will turn her on.
In my view, this “pilot light lover” (to adopt Gail Sheehy’s phrase) is just the beginning of her sexual awakening. I picture her after the film ends, going forward with confidence to meet men of her age who, she will discover, delight in giving pleasure to their partner.
Let’s address what many people are asking: did Emma Thompson need to bare it all to make the point that she finally accepts her body?
I love that she does this. It’s startling to see her naked, staring in the mirror, no longer confined by a pencil skirt or draped in a negligee. She is unapologetically adorned with her natural wrinkles and loose skin. I loved that. I found her beautiful.
No, she didn’t have to do it, but how it amplifies the message of overcoming shame and reclaiming her body! I applaud her and director Sophie Hyde for this decision. (Personally, I would have appreciated seeing more of Leo, too, just saying.)
I know I’ll have more to say about this film, but I’ll stop here to invite your comments. Let’s keep this discussion going.
I look forward to reading your comments.