My new book Great Sex Starts at 50 is my 17th book about sex and relationships and I was honestly thinking, ‘Seriously, what else can I say?’.
And then I turned 50 and realised that sex after 50 is a completely different ballgame – literally – than sex before it.
Things happen when you get older, especially for women. Some good, some bad.
Great sex can start at 50 but you do need to adjust your thinking and deal with the inevitable emotional and physical changes.
My book covers a myriad of topics – everything from wobbly erections, the menopause, lack of desire, not feeling sexy and being single in the second part of your life.
But a theme throughout is the practical things you can do to age-proof your libido.
If you’re over 30 and reading this, start cultivating these good sexual habits now so you’ll be in great shape later.
Sex expert Tracey Cox has revealed how great sex can start at 50 – but you need to adjust your thinking and deal with the inevitable emotional and physical changes (stock image)
Stop trying to be young
Stop pining over the sex you used to have. Young sex isn’t better sex, it’s simply a different style of sex.
Our bodies change as we age. Our lives change. What we want from life changes.
I don’t want to do the same things I wanted to in my 20s and I certainly don’t want the sort of sex I had back then either (all that hard, deep thrusting – are you kidding?)
Sex in your fifties and over isn’t about mad thrusting, it’s gentler, unhurried, less penetration focused sex.
One reason why older couples report higher satisfaction with sex is that they slow down and spend longer on foreplay.
My book, Great Sex Starts at 50, isn’t about trying to stay young. It’s not about desperately trying to turn back the clock, it’s about being the best version of yourself.
Flip the switch
I interviewed hundreds of women for the book.
All reported the same sort of middle-age issues: weight gain, bodies not the same after children, a few aches and creaks, menopause issues, wrinkles.
Tracey (pictured) added couples should stop trying to be young and reinvent ‘sexy’
Yet some were having sex regularly and thoroughly enjoying it and others had stopped having sex or found the whole ‘getting old’ thing so depressing, they avoided it much as they possibly could.
There was self-acceptance and (a depressing amount of) self-loathing.
Guess which group were having the best sex?
Those who thought, ‘Sure, my body’s not what it was but so what? I think I’m sexy so what’s the problem?’ had far more sex and much better sex than those who focused on the negatives.
Lots of women love getting older. They feel more confident, not less. They worry less about what people think and more about what they really want.
They have the time to re-explore sex, get a bit more adventurous, try something new. There are upsides to getting older, focus on those not the downsides.
Flip the switch from glass half empty to glass half full.
Fix body image issues by having more sex
Having sex improves body image. How?
Enjoyable sexual experiences make us feel better about our bodies. If our partner clearly enjoys making love to it, it can’t be that bad!
It’s a win-win-win scenario: the better you feel about your body, the better sex is. Which makes us want sex more, which in turn helps feed a better body image.
Initiate sex to feel more sexually powerful
This is something I’ve used a lot with couples – and by God it works.
You simply get the person who doesn’t usually initiate sex, to do just that and you turn the existing dynamic on its head.
The person who initiates sex more often is seen as the ‘sexy person’. Being the ‘sexy person’ makes you feel sexy.
Shifting power – changing from being the person who waits to be asked for sex to the person who is demanding sex from someone else – is a highly effective way to shake a sleeping libido awake. Try it.
I’ve seen it turn people around from disliking sex to really enjoying it in a month or two.
Use it or lose it
‘Use it or lose it’ applies to pretty much everything once you get past a half century but it’s crucial when it comes to sex.
The more regularly you have sex, the better shape your genitals are in.
Sex boosts our immune systems, reduces stress and improves memory. And that’s just the physical benefits.
Regular sex brings pleasure into our lives and increases production of oxytocin, the cuddle hormone, promoting trust, intimacy and bonding. It makes us feel less depressed and more positive generally, enhancing self-esteem and confidence.
How much sex do you need to harness all these benefits? Once a week would do it.
‘Sex’ by the way, doesn’t mean intercourse. But it does hopefully mean an orgasm – and that can happen during sex with yourself.
Once a week sounds quite a lot? In that case…
Find your normal
Some people feel sex-starved if they have sex once a week. Others will have an enjoyable sex session twice a year and still rate their sex life as highly satisfying.
I know plenty of long-term couples over 50 who have sex every two months and would bristle with indignation if I branded their relationship ‘sexless’ or ‘low sex’.
The right amount of sex for both of you has nothing to do with how often you’re having it and everything to do with what makes you both happy.
Yes, weekly sex is great for you physically and emotionally. But if that’s just not your ‘thing’, don’t worry about it.
There is no ‘normal’, only what works for the two of you.
Tracey said older couples should ‘stop pining over the sex you used to have’ and instead aim for ‘gentler, unhurried, less penetration focused sex’ (stock image)
I appreciate health issues can interfere with our ability to exercise but if you can exercise, do it!
Exercise won’t just keep you healthy and looking great, it increases blood flow – which is crucial to keep our genitals healthy and responsive.
It’s also important for our brains.
Exercise increases the production of dopamine which is important for cognitive function. It also strengthens muscles, improves circulation and improves your mood.
Staying active out of bed keeps you active in it.
You’ll be trimmer, your heart will be healthier (cardiovascular disease can impact on his erections), more flexible and fitter for sex.
A fit, healthy body makes us feel happier with our bodies generally.
See your doctor for solutions
If the menopause has hit you hard, see your GP.
If your doctor is the sort you know will be embarrassed, ask to see another one. Believe me, they’ve seen and heard it all before.
Don’t be fobbed off with the advice that using a good lube is all you need. Lube helps but it’s not going to make a scrap of difference in a lot of cases.
If you don’t think your doctor is knowledgeable enough or dismissive, ask for a referral to see a gynaecologist or genital urinary specialist.
Alternatively, do some online research (or buy my book which has a big chapter on dealing with the menopause) or visit a menopause clinic.
If sex is uncomfortable, change your favourite position
Choose positions that don’t allow deep penetration.
Any position where you’re in control, rather than him, works (you on top, for instance).
Otherwise, choose positions where you’re both lying fairly flat with your own legs quite close together.
Spooning sex works well, as does doggy style but with both of you lying flat with his legs on either side of yours.
If you’re not having regular sex with a partner, have it with yourself.
Masturbating is the best and easiest way to get or stay sexually ship-shape.
Do it. A lot. Recharge your vibrator or buy one and start clocking up as many orgasms as you can.
When you’re not having regular orgasms, the blood vessels get out of shape, preventing future orgasms.
If you value them, make sure you have one at least once a week for the rest of your life. (Not too much of a hardship, really.)
Some women have a strong reaction to ‘sexy’ and hate the idea of having to conform to a cliched idea of it as they get older.
You don’t have to. Put your own spin on what’s sexy.
‘I’m more attracted to the idea of natural sexiness rather than painted-on, put-on sexiness,’ said one 56-year-old friend.
‘I think sexiness post 50 comes from looking after your body through exercise and yoga and eating well so your skin glows rather than loading on the makeup and squeezing yourself into skinny jeans.’
The gamechanger: change way your partner thrusts
For older women, this is often the key to having no sex or having quite nice sex.
Ditch the deep, hard thrusting you used to enjoy – where he pulls out quite a way before plunging back in (see, even the word ‘plunge’ makes you wince!).
Instead, get him to penetrate slowly, stopping every inch, to let you relax around him.
Once he’s fully penetrated, keep your pelvises close and grind together in a circular motion.
He can put his hands under your buttocks to lift your bottom towards him; keep the grinding slow and consistent.
Switching from old-style thrusting to this gentler style can mean the difference between stopping intercourse entirely or keeping it going.
This advice works for any age, by the way. Young or old.
Great Sex Starts at 50: How to age-proof your libido (£12.99, Murdoch Books) is available from all online retailers and at all good bookshops. It is also available in ebook.