Your neighborhood drugstore offers just a few of the dozens of brands available, so don’t limit yourself. If there’s a woman-friendly sex shop near you, plan to hang out and, one at a time, rub a drop of a few different lubes on your hand (no, no fair to try take the tester bottle to the bathroom with you) and see what you like. If taste is important, you can, uh, lick your hand.
If you’re not sure what you’d like and there’s no convenient place to find out, try buying small samples of a few different types or a sample pack, available from many online sex shops that you’ll find in the right-hand column of this blog. Enjoy!
For both of those challenges, it’s crucial to use a good, slippery lubricant. Even if you think you’re wet enough, your natural lubrication has changed – it’s thinner and less protective for your more delicate tissues. So experiment with a slick lube that feels good and doesn’t dry out or get tacky quickly. Personally, I love both Liquid Silk, which feels most like natural lubrication and stays moist through prolonged sex, and Eros, which is very slippery and comfortable.
Have you ever consulted your doctor about your changing sexual responsiveness or about reclaiming your sexuality when you have a medical condition that makes sex more difficult?
What happened when you asked your doctor for advice about sex? How did he or she respond? Did you get the information you needed? And for the benefit of the medical professionals reading this — how would you have liked your doctor to respond to questions about sex? What advice would you give professionals about how and when to talk to their older patients about their sexuality?
I am planning to write a magazine article about this topic, so please feel free to comment here or email me and let me know if you’d be willing to be interviewed.
As background, I wrote the post that follows in March 2006, and I’d like to revive it now that I have many more readers. I invite your comments.
[post originally dated 3/29/06:]
I’ve been speaking to groups in the midwest and the San Francisco Bay Area, and corresponding with readers who send me emails. Over and over, this comment comes up: older-age sexuality is a huge gap in the education of medical professionals.
I keep meeting doctors, nurses, therapists, and alternative practitioners who are hungry for information for their patients and clients — and often for themselves. One woman’s eyes got teary when she said, “I’ve been so lonely wishing I could talk to someone about this.”
I’ve heard from women who have read my book and ask, “Why didn’t my doctor ever tell me that I have to ‘use it or lose it’?” These are usually older women who are not in relationships right now and didn’t realize the importance of internal massage, regular orgasms, and Kegels to keep their vaginas tuned up and healthy, or penetation in the future might be painful. (For more information about what to do, read Vaginal Rejuvenation & Health from A Woman’s Touch, a wonderful sexuality resource center which I had the pleasure of visiting in Madison and Milwaukee.)
I’m also talking to many women over sixty who didn’t know that lubricants and sex toys can enhance their sexual pleasure — solo or with a partner — by heightening arousal and speeding up orgasm. They thought that slow arousal and difficulty reaching orgasm were a part of aging that they had to accept. I’m distressed that many doctors tell women this — often without running tests to see whether hormone levels or other conditions which may be treated might be affecting sexual response.
I’m not dumping on doctors, just on their training. I’ve been thrilled by the response of medical professionals to my book. One Santa Rosa, CA gynecologist bought 14 copies of my book for her patients — and then, after she had given them all away, she bought 10 more!
Several readers have written in about their medical challenges since this post originally appeared. To read more on this topic, check on “medical attitudes towards sex and aging” or “cancer” in the “labels” column to the right, and you’ll see other related posts.
“Sex toys are an awesome gateway to an incredible sex life,” says sex educator/author/blogger Violet Blue. “These silly, bizarre little (or big) things can lead to hours of orgasmic exploration, self-discovery, sexual self-reliance and even deeper intimacy between couples (or a hilarious comedy of errors, depending).”
But not all sex toys are safe, says Violet in her article, “Unsafe Sex Products,” also available as a podcast. For example, some sex toys labeled “for novelty use only” are made poorly and cheaply, may break easily, and/or may contain chemical materials that you don’t want in contact with your delicate parts.
Fortunately, many high-quality sex toy manufacturers and vendors take your pleasure and sexual health seriously. (The woman-friendly sex shops I recommend in Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty care about your health and your pleasure, and are careful to carry quality products.)
I’ve paraphrased some of Violet’s tips here, with her permission, about a few products and practices to avoid:
* Nonoxynol-9: an agent that is supposed to kill HIV/AIDS, but can cause cervical abrasions and strip away rectal lining.
* Numbing lubricants and desensitizing creams such as Anal-Eze: If something you’re doing hurts, you want to know it and back off, or injury or infection can occur. “When you can’t feel pain, you are getting injured, period,” says Violet.
* Sugar/ glycerin: Avoid lubricants with sugar, colorings and flavors in them. Glycerin/glycerol is a sugar. Sugar feeds yeast, causing vaginal irritation. (That also means no whipped cream or chocolate as “dessert” during oral sex — keep sex and food separate!
* No Back to Front: Never go from anus to vagina with body parts or sex toys. Even if you’re squeaky clean from the shower, internal fecal bacteria can transfer. If you like anal stimulation with a sex toy, cover it with a condom.
(Violet Blue is the author and editor of over a dozen books on sex and sexuality, a sex educator who lectures at UC’s and community teaching institutions and writes about erotica, pornography, sexual pleasure and health. Her books include Best Women’s Erotica 2007, The Adventurous Couple’s Guide to Sex Toys, and Lust: Erotic Fantasies for Women. Caution: if you’re not used to in-your-face, graphic sex writing and photos, tread carefully when you visit Violet’s blog!)