“Today 80 is the new 60,” octagenarians study sex

The wonderful people at A Woman’s Touch Sexuality Resource Center in Madison, WI, run a summer school about sexuality for seniors which was recently covered by StorybridgeTV. To view the TV segment, click “play.” (You may need to hear the opening sentence a few times as it loads — be patient.) You’ll hear feisty comments by the elders taking the class, and tips from Myrtle Wilhite M.D. M.S., co-owner of A Woman’s Touch.

As the show’s promo says, “If you don’t think octagenarians are interested in sex, you could learn a thing or two from this class. After you watch this story, you’ll never look at aging the same way again. And that’s a good thing!”

How did you learn about sex?

How did you learn about sex, and how did your early sex education affect your enjoyment of sexuality later on? Please post your comments.

Here’s my story from “My Sex Education,” Chapter 3 of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty:


It was 1955, and I was twelve, with budding breasts, when my father–an obstetrician/ gynecologist–sat me down and handed me a pamphlet about the “facts of life.” The language was vague, with references to pistils and stamens, very little about penises or vaginas, and certainly no reference to the clitoris. The only fully developed information was about how the egg in the woman was fertilized by the sperm from the man, leading to pregnancy. My father sat quietly as I, embarrassed and confused, read the pamphlet.

“Do you have any questions?” he asked when I finished.
“No,” I lied.

I did have one burning question, which I asked my best friend: “How does the sperm get from the man to the woman?” That itty bitty fact was nowhere in the pamphlet.

My friend, oh so much wiser, told me, “He puts it in her.”

Not only was “how” omitted from my introduction to sexual information, but also “why.” Over the next few years, I was taught what not to do (sex or anything that could lead to it) and what awful things could happen–after all, my father saw lives ruined by teenage pregnancy. I was never taught why people want to have sex and how fulfilling it can be.

I was totally unprepared for the excitement and delicious pleasure of my urges a few years later.

Here’s what a few of the Sexually Seasoned Women I interviewed said about their Early Sex Ed and Experiences:

I was reared in a home where one did not talk about sex. When I first had sex at nineteen I felt guilty because I was raised to believe it was something for married people. However, my guilt did not stop me. I justified it by becoming engaged. (Melanie, 64)

In the 1950s, when I was a teenager, few of us had intercourse due to fear of pregnancy as well as the taboos placed on extra-marital sex by society. However, I loved “heavy petting” and had terrific orgasms with digital stimulation and squeezing on men’s thighs–or on horse back or fence railings! (Phoebe, 64)

I came out when I was twelve years old. I was oppressed by the times and I came from a violent family. I created my own little private world where masturbating was a way I’d feel comforted. I had my first sexual experience at fourteen with an older woman, twenty-one. I felt that was going to be my life, that I would be a sexual person. (Claire, 66)

I was brought up in a rural area in the 1950s, when sex was supposed to be forbidden, but several girls in my (very small) high school became pregnant. Then I had an affair with a married neighbor from age sixteen to twenty, and sex became a major focus, although I still excelled in school and got scholarships to college. I am very satisfied now, and no longer searching as I was. (Tina, 61)

When I was young, I was very affected by the abuse I suffered as a child. I hadn’t coped with the molestation even though I had a very active sex life. I was always fearful and held back. I grew up without boundaries. You don’t know your own body. It belongs to someone else. I was always so confused about sex. (Monica, 60)

I was raised in a very repressive environment. Everything about sex was labeled bad and forbidden. French kissing was a sin, kissing over ten seconds was a sin, masturbating was a sin. Birth control was also a sin, and so I became pregnant after my second sexual encounter. (Susie 60)