March 2020: I’m spotlighting this post, originally written for Valentine’s Day 2016, for a couple of reasons: (1) I have so many new readers now; (2) This post drew some marvelous reader comments, and I hope to encourage more!
“We need to acknowledge that solo sex (solo masturbation) is real sex,” I asserted, and ten people in the audience quoted me on Twitter immediately. I was speaking at the Woodhull Sexual Freedom Summit in August 2015. This was my first time attending Woodhull, and it was an amazing experience:
The Sexual Freedom Summit features human rights activists, sexuality educators and researchers, professionals from the legal and medical fields, authors, sexual freedom movement leaders and organizational partners all working toward the time when sexual freedom is fully recognized as a fundamental human right.
It seems to me that “sexual freedom” includes freeing ourselves from our society’s outdated notions, especially as they restrict us, as seniors, from full sexual expression. No one is standing at our bedroom door proclaiming, “Thou shalt not masturbate” — at least I hope not — but many of us have internalized the idea that giving ourselves sexual pleasure is wrong, or a depressing substitute for “real” — aka “partner” — sex.
At our age, accepting self-pleasuring as “real” sex is even more important than it was in our youth. Here are some reasons:
- Many of us do not have a sexual partner at this time of our lives.
- Many of us who do have a partner are not able to have full sexual expression with that partner, due to medical or relationship issues.
- 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.
- Our responses change as we age, and the most direct way to stay in tune with what we need for sexual pleasure is to experiment with our own hands — and, of course, sex toys.
- Sexual arousal and orgasm are good for physical and emotional health. In The Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50, I list 33 reasons why sex is good for you — and by sex, I mean with or without a partner.
For those of you who would tell me (as people do, surprisingly), “Hey, masturbation is inferior to sex with a loving partner,” I would answer, “There’s nothing inferior about sex with the person who knows you best.” Plus the obvious — “How nice that you have a loving partner. Many of us don’t.”
Whether we’re pleasuring ourselves because it’s sex with ourselves or no sex, or we enjoy private sex, or maybe we just want to have fantasy sex with Jeffrey Dean Morgan, let’s agree that solo sex is not only real sex — it’s delightful sex.
Readers of my Naked at Our Age Facebook page (which I hope you’ll “like”), had this to add:
- We are 58 and 57 and we both enjoy solo sex. Sometimes, we do it together. Watching can be quite erotic but more often, we’ll do it before bed (usually separately in that case) to help us sleep. Mrs. has a variety of vibrators and we’re both definitely in favor. – Mr. and Mrs. Average Joe, erotica author.
- I’m a 67 y.o. man, and in the famous words of Woody Allen, I’m good at sex (with women) because I practice a lot when I ‘m alone. (;-). Seriously, it has a lot to do with why I’m still so erotically alive. And yes, incorporating mutual self-stimulation into play with partners is really exciting, and in some ways can feel even more emotionally intimate than PIV [penis in vagina].
- I’m 53. I have been going solo for the past 11 years (not by choice), now that I am single I am looking forward to having a partner once again. The solo sex has been a necessity!
- I am 50. In my community sex is forbidden to singles and there is controversy about whether masturbation, therefore, is ‘sinful.’ My stance is masturbation is not sinful and not forbidden to those of us who are unmarried. I think “Solo Sex is Real Sex” but my Christian community may not accept such a statement.
- I am 58 and flown solo for quite a few years. On the one hand, it’s nice because I know all the best places and the exact technique. On the other, it’s obviously not as much fun as having a partner. However, that’s not always possible and I much prefer it over climbing into bed with a jerk. I wish I had more money for some of the great toys you’ve shown. I might never want a partner again if I did.
As Valentine’s Day approaches (note: I originally wrote this post for Valentine’s Day) and we’re bombarded with commercial messages about how to make the day more romantic with our loved one (soft lighting, mellow music, gifts of chocolate and roses included), let’s remember this:
Love starts with how we feel about ourselves, how giving and patient and accepting and loving we can be with the person who’s been in our life the longest. Let’s celebrate that with our own special touch (so to speak).
It’s almost Valentine’s Day 2018. Couples are planning their romantic dinners and getaways. But we’re not all coupled: there are 19.5 million singles over 65 in the U.S.*
If you don’t have a partner today, you’re not alone. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have sex with the person who knows you the best: yourself.
Self-pleasuring is delicious sex, and it doesn’t matter how old we are, whether or not we have a partner, if arousal and orgasms are easy or challenging for us, or we grew up thinking that masturbation was shameful. Staying sexual is within our own power.
I hope you’ll read my 2016 blog post, “Solo Sex is Real Sex,” featuring Jeffrey Dean Morgan (sort of) and my “Senior’s Guide to Solo Sex” for Senior Planet.
Here are some of my favorite quotes about solo sex:
- “We have reason to believe that man first walked upright to free his hands for masturbation.” — Lily Tomlin
- “Among all types of sexual activity, masturbation is, however, the one in which the female most frequently reaches orgasm.” — Alfred Charles Kinsey, Sexual Behavior in the Human Female, 1953
- “We know that more than 70 to 80 percent of women masturbate, and 90 percent of men masturbate, and the rest lie.” — Joycelyn Elders, former U.S. Surgeon General.
- “How to have sex with friends, lovers, wives, husbands all begins and ends with Masturbation.” — Betty Dodson (dubbed “the Mother of Masturbation”), age 88.
- “If God didn’t want us to masturbate, we wouldn’t have been given these long arms.” — Dan Savage in a recent Savage Lovecast episode.
- “Remember, if you ever need a helping hand, you’ll find one at the end of your arm. I really hope no one misinterprets this quote as being about masturbation.” —Audrey Hepburn
If you’re dating or ready to date, I invite you to enjoy my lively new, free webinar, “Safer Sex for Seniors“! Learn how to eroticize safer sex, how to choose the right condom size, even how to put a condom on a soft penis! Let me know what you learn and what you think.
If you haven’t already, please subscribe to my new newsletter here — a new issue is coming soon. Instead of having to chase me all over the Internet, I’ll come to your inbox occasionally (roughly monthly) with interesting senior sex news, views, practical tips, and special offers just for my mailing list.
Thanks for being a part of my community!
* I don’t have current stats for the over-50 population, but I’m looking.
(In case parts of this post sounds familiar, some sections originally appeared on my blog on Feb. 14, 2016.)
Have you made your New Year’s Resolutions for 2018? I’m not talking about those tired (and usually abandoned) promises like go to the gym, stick to a budget, and stop junk food snacking. I’m talking about Sexy New Year’s Resolutions — changes and commitments that will give you a richer, more joyful sex life, especially at our age. And they’re fun to put into action!
You may know that I write a monthly “Sex at Our Age” column for Senior Planet. Usually I answer a reader’s question in this column, but occasionally I take a different path. This month, my Sexy New Year’s Resolutions offer you 14 tips and lifestyle changes that will make a huge difference if you follow them fully. Here are some examples. (Read the others here.)
Redefine Sex. Change your definition of sex to whatever activities arouse you and bring you sexual pleasure, partnered or solo. Embracing a new definition of sex expands your possibilities for pleasure. Read this account of one reader’s experience.
Track the Tingle. For quicker, easier, and more satisfying arousal, figure out what time of day you feel most sexually responsive. When you feel the “tingle” – that quiver of erotic possibility – set aside time to indulge yourself sexually or schedule that time on your next free day.
Self-Pleasure Frequently. Solo sex is real sex, and it’s good for your general health, your sexual health and your sense of well-being. Give yourself sexual pleasure, whether you’re in a relationship or not. You’re celebrating your body’s ability to give you exquisite pleasure.
Just Do It. This is for you if you enjoy sex when you do it, but you rarely feel desire in advance. You’re experiencing “responsive desire”: your desire follows physiological arousal instead of preceding it. So just do it, and your desire will kick in.
Exercise Before Sex. Increasing your blood flow with physical activity isn’t only good for the heart and muscles — it’s also good for sexual function and pleasure. One of the best things we can do to speed up arousal and orgasm is regular exercise, especially before sex.
Sex Before Food. Eating before sex sends the blood flow to your digestive system instead of your genitals. Have sex first, then eat. Sexual arousal will be easier, orgasms will be more reliable, and you will relish that meal afterward.
Use Your Words. Learning to talk about sex is the key to getting what you want. A long-term partner is likely to continue doing what used to work, even if it doesn’t work for you now, unless you redirect the action. A new partner wants to know how to please you. Speak up.
Have Sex More Often. Difficulty with arousal and orgasm is a good reason to have more sex, not less. The penis and the clitoris require blood flow for engorgement. The more you engage in stimulation – partnered or solo — the more easily the blood flows to the genitals.
Committing to a year of resolutions is daunting, I know. But did you know that it takes just three weeks to make or break a habit? So how about selecting two or three of these resolutions and committing three weeks to seeing how they work for you? Chances are you’ll want to keep doing them. Let me know!
It’s important for us to redefine what we mean by “having sex” and being “sexually active,” especially with our changing bodies, relationships, and circumstances as we age.
- How old are you, and how would you define “having sex” or being “sexually active” at this age?
- Do you consider solo sex to be “real” sex? Why or why not?
- If you were surveyed about whether you are sexually active, how would you answer? What would you mean by that answer?
- Has your doctor or other medical professional asked you about whether you’re sexually active?
- If you asked your doctor or other medical professional about a sex-related concern? How did that go?