In the flurry of publicity surrounding former President George Bush's new memoir, you may have heard the story he included about his younger years as a heavy drinker: While boozed up at a Maine dinner party hosted by his parents, he turned to an older female dinner guest and asked, "So, what's sex like after 50?" He also said that, years later, after he passed the mid-century milestone himself, the same woman wrote to him and said "Well, George, how is it?"
That got me thinking about how there's a fair amount of mystery surrounding sex at mid-life and beyond. Even once you've hit that age yourself and know whether sex has changed for you, you're probably in the dark about if and how things are different for other people. So I decided to ask a bunch of real people if sex has changed for them, and if so how, or if it hasn't changed at all. The answer? It seems that, as with "sex under 50" it's different for everyone! Here's a sampling of their responses:
A 54-year-old male non-fiction author writes: "I'm still as interested as ever, but my wife's sex drive is waning, more from stress than from menopause I think. She also suffers from dryness and fragile tissues, which makes intercourse difficult for her sometimes. But getting away on vacation helps her relax, and that's one thing I'd suggest about sex after 50: Make the effort to get away and have a weekend, or even a week, together."
A 67-year-old woman writes: "My urge for sex is less frequent but VERY MUCH still there. My significant other, alas, has (at about-to-turn 63) totally lost interest. It's not that he can't—the last times we did have sex he had no physical issues. He just doesn't have the interest. I spoke to my GYN about it, and he said that yes, there are meds that might help, but they carry an element of health risk. My GYN suggested that my best options were a new relationship, a discreet lover on the side, or an open relationship. But I love my S.O. and wouldn't dump him "only" because he doesn't want sex (it's a pretty big only though), I wouldn't cheat and I lived in an open relationship back in the '70s—it was great then but wouldn't work for me now."
From a 55-year-old woman: "As a woman who was really sexual till menopause and knew how to have an orgasm without really trying, and has never faked one in 26 years of marriage I have to tell you this: It does not feel the same and women who tell you it's fantastic after menopause are BSing. And if men over 50 were really always able to perform, why would Viagra exist? My hubby and I have sex where we say "hmm" maybe this time it will happen. We enjoy aging and understand the realities."
From a 57-year-old businessman: "About six years ago, before my second marriage, I stumbled upon and bought the book The Guide to Getting it On. As embarrassing as it was to buy it, the book turned out to be excellent because of its very practical explanations of various techniques. People do not have to buy that particular book but they should buy something (even The Joy of Sex would be good) because we never really truly learn good technique. So, to answer your question, sex for me has been wonderful after 50, as I've learned different techniques. My wife and I have also been exploring making love at different times and in different rooms in our place. And, we have decided that there are different types of sex—for instance the long, leisurely Sunday afternoon type, versus the quickie, and many types in between. Those changes—time of day, location and "type" of sex—have both been difficult (always tough to break habits) and really wonderful (because it adds some fun and thrill)."
From a woman who wouldn't give her exact age: "I'm here to reveal that sex after 50 is much better than before. No worry about babies, no kids to disturb private activities. I was widowed suddenly in my fifties, and couldn't picture being with another man, and assumed men only desired younger women. Then I looked in the mirror and saw an attractive, bright experienced woman and thought, 'Why wouldn't a man want to enjoy my company?' Once I viewed myself in that light, I began to date. Funny how you never forget how to play 'getting to know you' and though moral codes may have changed since I was young, I learned to say no and knew when it was time to say yes."
From a 50-something divorced career woman: "What's sex like after 50?" THE BEST! I've enjoyed sex all my life, but I think sex after 50 is the best sex I have ever had, but it is difficult to determine why. Shortly before my 50th birthday, about a year after my second marriage ended, I entered into a new relationship. The gentleman was someone I had met several times before, but this time when our paths crossed the chemistry seemed stronger. Timing is everything. However, I will admit that (at least for me) the initial attraction was physical. And the sex was great and continues to be. In fact, it is the best I have ever experienced. He is a good man, with a good heart, who makes me laugh and can satisfy me. So why is this sex after 50 so great? There's no single reason, but I suspect it's a combination of who I am with, who I have become, what my priorities have become, what I have learned, and what I refuse to compromise about."
How has sex changed for you after 50? Or hasn't it? Don't worry, it's easy to remain anonymous!