Safer Sex for Seniors — again!

safer sex for seniorsSafer Sex for Seniors — yes, I’m talking about this again.You know I’ve been on a soapbox about this for years, telling you the stats about STDs in our age group; encouraging you to use barrier protection if you’re not in a committed, exclusive relationship; sharing tips for having the “Condom Conversation” in my books, here on this blog, on Huff/Post50, and wherever I can spread the word; giving out free condoms at my dating workshops.

If you’re age 50+, sexually active, and not in a monogamous marriage or a long-term, sexually exclusive relationship, would you answer some or all of these questions for an article I’m writing?

Do you use barrier protection (condoms, dental dams, etc.) with your partner(s)?

  • What considerations go into your decision whether or not to use barrier protection? How do you decide?
  • Do you sometimes intend to use safer sex, but in the heat of the moment, you don’t?
  • If you don’t use protection, why not?
  • Have you tried the female condom (FC2) for vaginal or anal sex? How did you like it?
  • What facts about STDs in our population would be important for you to know?
  • What else would you like to know from our community about our attitudes and behavior as we discuss this topic?

Comment here, or if you want to do it more privately, email me directly, including your age, please. If you comment here, give yourself a first name (it doesn’t have to be your own) instead of just calling yourself “anonymous,” and please include your age.

I might quote what you tell me in the new article I’m writing, but I won’t identify you in any way (unless you want me to).

The conversation is open! Your turn.

safer sex for seniorsWhat are those things that look like compact cases in the top photo? They’re condom cases, the brainchild of Marsha Bartenetti and her daughter Rachael Sudul of Just In Case.

The case looks like a regular compact. Open it, and there’s a mirror.
safer sex for seniors. Open the next layer, and there’s a space to stash a condom. Discreet, fits in a purse or pocket.

See the different styles here. Thank you, Just In Case, for sending me these samples.

 

 

FC2: New Female Condom

FC2 Female Condoms 

Guest blog by David Pittle, Ph.D

Amy, a client of mine, reported, “The condom broke!” twice within a week. I assumed that her boyfriend must not know how to use a condom properly, because condoms rarely break when used properly. He must have been using oil-based lubricant, stretching the condom beyond its limits, putting it on without leave a reservoir space for the ejaculate, or using expired condoms.

Now all of that is teachable, but the boyfriend was not my client.I wanted to put the process in Amy’s hands. Years ago, I knew about the “female condom.” The original female condom never got much acceptance. As Joan Price wrote, “It was like having sex in a shower curtain.”

But the new FC2, second generation of female condom, is a different experience and a great improvement. It is soft and pliable, very easy to use, and made of nitrile, like today’s medical exam gloves.

The FC2 condom has many advantages. It . . .

  • Is very comfortable 
  • Is not constricting 
  • Feels good to both the man and the woman 
  • Warms to the temperature of the body, or more specifically, to the vagina 
  • Can be put on hours before intercourse 
  • Can be left in after ejaculation 
  • Is impervious to oil-based lubricants 
  • Is easy to insert 
  • Aids in stimulating the clitoris for some women. 

But the most important advantage from the woman’s point of view. . .

  • It is under control of the woman before she gets involved in the passion of sexual arousal. 

The female condom is easy to use. Insertion can be made a part of foreplay. Some couples make that part of their ritual. It is very hot for him to do the insertion—under her direction.

As we men age, our erectile response may become weaker or take longer. One of the great things about the FC2 is that the man can insert a flaccid penis before working up to an erection.

Strictly speaking, the FC2 is not a male sex toy, but it really can be. A man can use it, and I have, by himself, and find the sensations very pleasurable. One can’t say this about the standard male condom. This is not a minor issue.

When the FC2 female condom was introduced, it was pricey, but the cost has dropped. It’s still more than a male condom, but not enough to be a problem. 
Most drug stores still don’t carry the FC2 in stock, but Walgreens does, and others will follow as the FC2 gets more popular. They can also be purchased on-line from many vendors including Amazon.

Make the effort to buy the female condom, FC2, and try it. The FC2 is an excellent help in pleasuring ourselves and our partner while we protect our sexual health. You may never want to go back to the male condom—or, of course, to unprotected sex.

David M. Pittle, Ph.D., is a therapist in San Rafael, CA, who has been helping people
with sexual issues for over thirty years. Many of his clients are age 50-80,
when good sex is important, and dissatisfaction may lead to loss of shared
intimacy that can threaten the total relationship. David specializes in helping
women who are not experiencing sexual satisfaction and men with non-medical and
medically-related erectile dysfunction or other issues. Visit his website here.
Please see Dr. Pittle’s reviews on this blog of Hitachi Magic Wand , Vacuum Erection Devices, and Tenga Egg

(I am sad to tell you that my friend, sex therapist David Pittle died December 2017. We value his sex toy reviews. Read his other reviews here.)

CatalystCon: celebrating sexuality

I’m basking in the joy of CatalystCon, a weekend of learning and sharing with other sex educators and self-proclaimed sex geeks. The mission of this event was “Sparking Communication in sexuality, activism and acceptance.” Oh yes, mission accomplished.

Though most attendees were younger and I was the only speaker on senior sex, there were other people with grey hair (or they would have had grey hair had they not colored theirs). I felt total acceptance from all the people I met, even those decades younger. The sex-positive nature of the event conveyed this message to everyone: “I celebrate my own sexuality, sexuality in general, and your sexuality, no matter how different from mine yours might appear to be.”

Megan Andelloux

I tried to choose from 40 sessions presented over two days, wishing I could attend them all. For every session I attended, there were four I had to miss.

Charlie Glickman

Some of my favorite sex educators featured in Naked at Our Age were speaking:  Carol Queen, Charlie Glickman, Megan Andelloux. There were names that inspire recognition and awe, such as Dr. Marty Klein.

(Want your own “Sex Geek” shirt?  Order from Reid Mihalko here.)

I attended sessions where I’d learn information that you, dear sex-positive senior readers, would benefit from knowing, and others where I’d come away with plenty of “huh! I didn’t know that!”

 

For example, the “Toxic Toys” session with Metis Black, founder of Tantus, high quality silicone sex toys; Jennifer
Pritchett, founder of Smitten Kitten; and feisty educator and author, Ducky Doolittle. I was amazed by their stories of activism in an industry where sex toys used to be cheap, easily broken, and made of noxious materials that leached chemicals into our mucous membranes.  We have women like these three activists to thank for the safety and quality of sex toys today.

One of the most memorable speakers I heard was Buck Angel. Buck calls himself “a man with a vagina” — he’s a transgender man who elected to have top surgery but not bottom surgery.

As a child named Susan (but everyone called him Buck), he was a “total tomboy” and thought of himself as a boy. “Occasionally someone would say, ‘You’re a girl,” and I’d beat the crap out of them, and they’d say, ‘OK, you’re a dude,’” he says. “Everything was fine until at 15, puberty hit. Not puberty as a boy – but puberty as a girl. Here I am bleeding, my boobs are growing, I’m turning into a woman.”

He had his sex change 20 years ago, before female-to-male changes were done. He was the “guinea pig” for the surgeon who removed his breasts. “For years I hated what I was, and now I love it,” he says.

Now Buck is 50 years old, a porn star (“the man with a pussy”), transgender activist, and motivational speaker. His past includes alcohol and drug addiction, modeling, hustling, attempted suicide, and death threats. “I should be dead,” he says. “Why am I still here? Because I have a message to give the world: Deprogram yourself, and love your vagina.” Buck Angel’s story is worthy of a  book. (Buck, do you need a ghostwriter?)

 

Carol Queen & Robert Lawrence

Another provocative session was “Why Talk about Sex and Disability?“, co-presented by Robin Mandell and Dr. Robert Morgan Lawrence (who also gave a fascinating talk on “The Anatomy of Pleasure” with his partner Carol Queen).

Robin Mandell

Robin referred to people without disabilities as “temporarily able-bodied” and made the point that we have much to learn from sex-positive people with disabilities. Robert, who referred to himself as “old and crunchy,” jolted us all when he spread out all the medications he has to take for myriad medical challenges including pain that limits mobility. He has had to make many accommodations sexually as well as in other ways. “It took being crippled to realize that sex wasn’t penetration,” he says.”

I had fun at a workshop learning to use the new version of the female condom, called the FC2. If your experience was with the first female condom, which felt and sounded like having sex with a shower curtain, you’ll be happy to know the material is completely different now. It’s great for folks of our age, because the penis can be inserted even if it’s not erect, and lube in the condom doesn’t dry up or get absorbed.It can also be used for anal sex for either gender, just remove the inner ring. One man in the workshop said it was a way “to feel bareback sensations while staying protected.” (This video shows how to insert it and gives lots of info.)

Okay, the female condom does look funny (especially in this model with a dildo in it that we passed around — should I not have shared this?), but the workshop leaders, Planned Parenthood sex educators Alma de Anda and Mayra Lizzette Yñiguez, advised us to give it three tries to discover how comfortable and empowering it is. They gave me a bunch of samples (three in a pack, to prove their point) to share with my workshop attendees!

My own session was titled “Senior Sex Out Loud,” the story of my journey from high school English teacher to fitness professional/ health writer to sex educator/ senior sex advocate, with experiences along the way that were sometimes amusing, sometimes amazing, occasionally appalling. I started out wearing a jacket, but shed it when I talked about body acceptance. (Want to hear this speech yourself, or offer one of my workshops at your venue? I have a suitcase packed, would love to come to you. Please email me and let’s talk.)

But CatalystCon was more than the knowledge, more than the networking, more than the
opportunity for me to share what I do and how I feel about it, more than
learning what other sex educators do and how they feel about it. It
felt like a brave new world was possible, one in which acceptance and
celebration reigned.

Imagine living in a society free of closed-minded people and repressive attitudes and policies, where we celebrate our similarities and our differences and are truly
kind to each other. That was in the air at CatalystCon.

I applaud Dee Dennis, who conceived and birthed CataystCon; the sponsors who made it possible and affordable; the extraordinary speakers who were willing to donate their wisdom and incur their own travel expenses; and the attendees who were eager to absorb new knowledge, communicate openly (even those who wore the “I’m shy” wristbands that Reid gave out), and take our messages home. CatalystConWest will become a yearly event, and CatalystConEast will rock your world March 15-17, 2013 in Washington, DC.

As always, I welcome your comments.

Vaginal dryness and senior sex orgy? Reader Q

Here’s a reader question that will intrigue you! My response follows.

Q: I have recently started to have a physical relationship with a more mature woman. She happens to be 12 years my senior. I normally use lubricant because she is normally dry, regardless of how much foreplay we engage in. She has approached me about engaging in a small orgy. We were wondering if there would be any issues with a few men?

My response:

 By “any issues,” I can’t tell if you’re asking whether her vaginal dryness might be exacerbated by having intercourse with more than one man, or whether you’re concerned that enacting this fantasy might be emotionally problematic for her, for you, or for your relationship. Since I’m not sure which you’re asking, I’ll answer both.

It’s completely normal for women to need lubricant for sex as they age. A woman can be extremely aroused and still not lubricate the way she used to. You’re right to use lubricant, as you’ve discovered already. Prolonged intercourse – whether with one man or “a few” – will require frequent application of lubricant.

Besides the dryness, though, she may find the group sex she’s considering physically uncomfortable sooner than she expects because of the thinning of her vaginal walls. If you plan to go ahead with this scene, be sure everyone understands that not every sex act has to culminate in intercourse, and make sure the other men involved agree not to push that part of it.

For everyone’s health and safety, be sure that condoms and dental dams (or the female condom, which works for both uses) are within easy reach and used with every interaction. Don’t forego this because the other men insist that they are “safe.” Your sexual health and your partner’s are your own responsibility. (Please read the FAQ, “Six Basic Facts Seniors Need to Know about STIs”)

I can’t tell from your question whether your partner has had sex with multiple partners before and wants to do it again, or whether this is a fantasy of hers that you’d like to help her indulge. Don’t go into it lightly. Talk a lot first. Try roleplaying, just the two of you, pretending you have a third (or fourth) by “talking dirty” about what you’re fantasizing is going on. That may help you each understand what you’re imagining and wanting from expanding your relationship.

I could write pages about the issues to think about and talk about, how to negotiate what’s okay and what’s off limits, how to choose and invite new partners, how to test your fantasy in stages, how to make sure your partner (or any of you) can stop or leave if it doesn’t turn out to be right after all, how to care for each other afterwards.

As you see, I’m not moralizing – if you both really want this and it fits with your own beliefs, go into it thoughtfully and with plenty of dialogue and preparation.

If I’ve left you worried, frightened, or dismayed, then maybe this would be too big a step for your relationship to handle.

This question and my response were first published on the Safer Sex for Seniors website where this question was originally submitted — direct link to this Q &A here. Here’s what I wrote about this site when it first went live.


I’d love to know what my readers think about this topic and my response. Please comment!