Sex is a natural, normal part of life that should be healthy and enjoyable – yet it’s something that so many of us struggle to talk about. This can be especially true in later life, largely due to changes in physical health and sexual function, and stereotypes and stigmas around ageing.
For example, in a LELO survey of people aged 50+, one in five said they’d feel uncomfortable talking to their partner about changes to their sex drive.
Yet, open communication around sex can help us foster emotional intimacy, navigate changes in our bodies, desires, and needs; and feel empowered to take charge of our sexual health and relationships – all of which are essential for a fulfilling sex life. So, we’ve joined the conversation by exploring how you can bring more joy to sex in later life…
While ageing can present sexual challenges for some people, research shows that sex after 50 could be the best yet – with 70% of over 50s reporting positive changes in their sex lives, compared to their younger years. Reasons for this could include having fewer inhibitions and responsibilities, and developing deeper emotional connections with a partner.
Though try not to feel disheartened if sex doesn’t feel this way for you, as there are plenty of ways to improve things. While there’s no one-size-fits-all approach to better sex – as everyone’s sexual attitudes, opinions, and experiences will differ – we’ve pulled together a few things to try, both alone and with your partner.
1. Shower or take a bath together
If you take time to get in the mood for sex or are lacking emotional intimacy with a partner, then showering or bathing together can help.
Try lighting some candles, adding a few aromatic bath salts, having a cuddle, and spending time lathering up and washing each other off. Focusing on the more sensual areas, such as the neck, back, and thighs, when touching one another can get you ready for some bedroom (or bathroom!) action later.
2. Sleep naked
Sleeping naked can bring many benefits to our sex lives. It can help with temperature regulation, leading to better sleep, and also deepen our connection with our partners.
This is because the skin-to-skin contact that results from naked cuddling releases oxytocin; a soothing chemical which is linked with trust, sexual, arousal, and relationship-building, as well as more intense orgasms. Plus, sleeping naked can increase your receptiveness to touch, and make you readier to receive pleasure.
Studies also suggest that sleeping naked can increase your self-esteem and overall body image by allowing you to become more comfortable and familiar with your body – which is important for feeling sexy!
3. Practise being mindful
Does your mind wander during sex? If so, you’re certainly not alone. But, mindfulness could be the secret sauce needed to spice things up.
When you’re mindful, you’re fully present – no mental grocery lists or worries. It’s like turning the volume up on every sensation, so you can feel each touch and breath more intensely. But, it’s not just about the physical; mindfulness can amp up emotional connection too and banish performance pressure by helping you to feel more relaxed so you can simply enjoy the ride.
Plus, being more present can help you and your partner sync up, and respect and understand each other’s desires and boundaries better. And this deep, shared experience can make sex more intimate and fulfilling.
To start practising mindfulness during sex, check out this article from HuffPost.
4. Get out of the bedroom
As with anything routine, having sex in the bedroom only can become boring, making it feel more like a chore. So, why not change things up?
Having sex in new places – whether on the sofa, kitchen table, or bathroom floor – can be fun for various reasons. It can add excitement and novelty to the experience, stimulate the senses, and intensify arousal. For some, an increased risk of getting caught can also add a thrill!
5. Free yourself (and your partner) from expectations
Comparing our sex lives to that of others can produce unrealistic expectations, which will likely lead to dissatisfaction. So, try to focus exclusively on what works best and feels most natural for you and your sexual partner.
This may require you to do away with commonly held gender stereotypes, such as the idea that men are always sexually voracious initiators, or that you should be getting kinky multiple times a week. People have different sexual appetites and levels of confidence, regardless of age and gender – so it can help to make room for variation and flexibility in your sex life, including who initiates sex and when.
It’s also important not to rely on your partner to read your mind and know what your sexual mood is. Instead, try to work on your communication so that you feel comfortable asking for what you’d like while encouraging your partner to do the same. If you’ve been together a while, this will also help you accommodate each other’s evolving sexual needs.
Outside of relationships, other commonly held, rigid stereotypes can negatively impact your sex life too – for example, the idea that casual sex is more acceptable for younger generations. But, try to remember that two consenting adults of any age deserve to enjoy safe sex, whether they’re in a relationship or not.
6. Learn to love yourself as you are
It’s perfectly natural to feel self-conscious at times during sex – whether because it feels awkward letting your inhibitions go or you’re worried about what you look like. But taking steps to learn to love yourself and your constantly evolving body is one of the most powerful things you can do to enhance your sex life.
Above all, it can help us to accept that we deserve great sex, giving us the confidence to ask for what we want, experiment with new things, and express pleasure. These behaviours – including moaning, dirty talk, and great eye contact – are often gratifying, encouraging, and liberating for both parties.
It usually takes consistent effort to achieve self-love through regular rituals like self-massage, positive affirmations, and wearing clothes that make you feel good. For more tips, you might want to read our article; 15 things you can do to start loving and accepting your body.
7. Practise masturbation
Masturbation can be an empowering form of self-love too, as it can be a great way to connect to yourself and your sexual energy, and discover more about what you like – also making it easier to guide your partner in the bedroom.
However, it can be useful to have a goal of exploring your body rather than simply achieving orgasm. This can take the pressure off while encouraging you to try different strokes and paces and touch unfamiliar areas of your body.
You might also want to spice things up by using sex toys or watching porn – we’ll cover these below.
8. Consider using sex toys
Sex toys can add an exciting dimension to your sex life, both with a partner or alone. In fact, between 2019 and 2021, the UK saw a huge 6685% increase in orders of sex toys, making it the number one self-pleasure capital, ahead of countries like France and Australia.
The great thing about sex toys is they come in many different shapes, sizes, and noise levels – allowing you to explore what brings you the most pleasure.
But, as with anything sex-related, it’s important to make sure that you’re safe and comfortable while using them. Try to choose toys made from gentle, non-toxic materials that feel comfortable against your skin and avoid potentially harmful materials like jelly, PVC, or rubber.
One of the leading brands in the sex toy world at the moment is LELO, whose products are typically made from body-safe silicone. Women might like to try their clitoral massager or rabbit massager (for clitorial and g-spot stimulation), while men might enjoy this silicone massager, designed to mimic oral stimulation, or this prostate massager. Stimulating the prostate can produce a more intense orgasm during ejaculation and can be another interesting way to spice things up.
9. Explore erotica
If you don’t already watch porn or read/listen to erotic stories, then it could introduce an element of excitement to your sex life. While some may use it while masturbating, others use it as a way to get them fired up for sex with a partner.
While there are plenty of free porn sites out there, much of it is male-centric, which can be off-putting for some women. If this sounds familiar, you could try visiting frolicme.com – a website created by Anna Richards, who envisioned a new world of ethical porn with passion, female fantasy, and beautiful erotica at its heart. Choose from a range of films, stories, audio, images, and articles!
10. Express yourself authentically
How we express ourselves daily can have a significant impact on how sexually confident we feel. For example, have you always wanted to dye your hair a bold colour but not done so because you’re worried about what others will say? Or perhaps you avoid wearing certain clothing because you’re afraid you can’t pull them off, dressing in a way that makes you blend in, instead.
In a similar way to letting go and riding the wave of pleasure in the bedroom in whatever way feels good and natural to us, we should also explore what lights us up outside the bedroom. This could be as simple as adding some gel to our hair, trying a new lipstick, or swapping a dress and heels for a dress and trainers, if this is how we feel happiest.
Owning and celebrating who we are is sexy, and can make us feel more empowered – both with and without clothes.
11. Discover and own your desires
Have you ever shied away from exploring a sexual fantasy because you were worried about being judged? For example, perhaps you’ve always wanted to try a threesome or roleplay. If you’re in a long-term relationship, now could be the time to speak openly to your partner about your desires or, if you’re single, connect with individuals with similar sexual interests.
Sometimes, gaining the confidence to own your desires in the bedroom starts with owning your desires outside the bedroom first. This might mean chasing a job you’ve always dreamed of doing or getting involved in a cause you care about through volunteering.
Passion is contagious and the more passionate we are about life in general, the more likely we are to experience sparks in the bedroom.
12. Engage in emotional intimacy with your partner
When you’re in a long-term relationship, it’s easy to get so comfortable with one another that you stop truly seeing and hearing one another. Your relationship might have become more functional than sexual, and you’ve probably both changed quite significantly in your time together, even if you haven’t realised it – meaning that your needs and desires may have changed too.
And while you might spend time with your partner, how much of it is quality time – where you both make eye contact, have meaningful discussions, or create new memories? While great sex doesn’t have to involve emotional intimacy, it can often be a sticking point for couples who’ve been together a while – causing sex to become monotonous and/or less frequent.
This is typically because, the more safe, secure, and loving we feel towards our partners, the more likely we are to want to get physically close to them, and give and receive pleasure. So, if you haven’t been on a date night in a while, why not make a pact to introduce them weekly by trying some of our 20 affordable date ideas?
It can also help to make the time to complement and lift up your partner to show them that you still value and appreciate them, and find them attractive.
13. Try new sex positions
When it comes to penetrative sex, increasing comfort and pleasure could be as simple as adapting the positions or trying new ones.
For example, spooning allows for close intimacy and minimal physical exertion, making it ideal for those seeking a gentler experience. Meanwhile, the cowgirl position allows the person on top to control the pace and depth, reducing strain on joints and accommodating varying levels of mobility. Experts also suggest that this position could be helpful for men with erectile dysfunction (ED).
Michael Feloney, MD, urologic surgeon and expert on sexual dysfunction issues says, “I don’t know of any studies that show one sex position is better than another, but it would make sense that a sex position that uses a lot of your big muscles and requires a lot of acrobatics will require more blood flow and could take away blood from your erection.”
Some couples also prefer to adapt the missionary position by placing a pillow or two under the woman’s lower back to increase support and tilt the pelvis upwards, making insertion easier – especially if pain and dryness are a concern. Lots of lubrication can help too.
14. Use your imagination
Sex between two consenting people should feel good and how that’s achieved will vary from person to person, so why not get creative?
For example, if penetrative sex feels too awkward or uncomfortable, then oral sex might become your go-to – you could take turns giving or receiving or pleasure each other simultaneously in a 69 position. Or, you could give each other sensual massages, working your way slowly towards each other’s erogenous zones.
You could also have a brainstorming session with your partner where you both come up with new and exciting ideas to try together. And if you think of something you’d like to do with your partner while they’re not around, why not text them the juicy details? Provocative texts can let your partner know you’re thinking about them and build sexual tension, ready for the next time you’re together.
15. Embrace the obstacles that come with age – and find ways around them
As beautiful and natural as ageing is, it can create some sexual hurdles that can change the way we feel about and enjoy sex. This can include menopausal changes, such as vaginal dryness and reduced libido and, for men, erectile dysfunction (ED).
But, it’s important to remember that these things don’t have to bring an end to your sex life if you don’t want them to. As you’ve hopefully seen from this article, there are plenty of things you can do to increase confidence and fun in the bedroom.
That said, if you’re struggling with vaginal dryness, it’s also worth making sure that you have a decent supply of lube available. Water or silicone-based lubricants are good options because they’re safe to use with condoms and hypoallergenic. Silicone-based lubricants also tend to have more of a silky feel to them. For more tips, check out this article from Red.
Some women have had success with the Mona Lisa Touch laser treatment as an alternative to HRT too. While it’s only available privately at the moment, it’s a gentle approach that can help with vaginal dryness, discomfort during sex, and urinary incontinence. It does this by rehydrating and tightening the membrane lining of your vaginal wall. You can find out more on The Female Health Clinic’s website.
When it comes to erectile dysfunction, there are also plenty of lifestyle changes that can be made, such as stopping smoking and taking steps to reduce stress. Very often, ED can also be resolved by speaking openly with your partner about the idea of spending longer on foreplay and experimenting with sex toys – or speaking to your doctor. For more information, have a read of our article on the subject.
Sex after 50 can be exciting – a time to rediscover new desires, reignite old ones, and develop and embrace your sexual energy and confidence.
While some of the tips in this article will hopefully help with this, if you’re struggling with symptoms of menopause or ED, or have any health concerns that could be affecting your sex life and/or quality of life, then it’s worth making an appointment with your GP.
Remember that you deserve to enjoy a great sex life in midlife and beyond. A healthy sex life can also bring many emotional and physical benefits – such as improved heart health, lower blood pressure, better sleep, and reduced stress – so, if sex is something you want to do more of, it’s worth taking the time to make it as pleasurable as possible.
As a bonus, if you’re looking for a feel-good film to watch, you might also want to check out Good Luck To You, Leo Grande. Here, we meet retired teacher Nancy Stokes (Emma Thompson) who embarks on a post-marital sexual awakening in her 60s, leading her to form a surprising human connection with sex worker, Leo Grande (Daryl McCormack).
Receiving a 93% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, Good Luck To You, Leo Grande tackles taboo sexual subjects with humour, flair, and realism.
Did you find any of the tips in this article particularly helpful? Do you have any tips of your own you’d like to share? We’d be interested to hear from you in the comments below.