Is there an expiration date for sexual pleasure?

aging and sexuality, menopause, embracing sex

Is there an expiration date for sexual pleasure?

Is there an expiration date for sexual pleasure? The messages we receive daily, as older women,  would seem to indicate that at some point, around the age of menopause, we are meant to give up sex.

I’m not having that. At all. 


One of my most popular presentations is Sex After 50? Yes, Yes, Yes, where I encourage attendees to rethink their definition of sex—embracing all the ways that we give and receive pleasure. The definition of sex as penis-in-vagina is limiting. And for many aging adults who experience natural age-related changes impacting sexual function, while also seeking to expand their idea of pleasure it is imperative to create a broader idea of what sex might include. When the focus is on giving and receiving pleasure we are creating many more opportunities to have fun with a partner. And we reap the health benefits that go along with being sexual.

I was reminded of that presentation and the benefits of a robust sex life focused on our sexual pleasure when I read this article by Nan Wise promoting her new book. 

Her book, Why Good Sex Matters: Understanding the Neuroscience of Pleasure for a Smarter, Happier, and More Purpose-Filled Life will be coming out this month. In the article I reference, she shares her insights on sex and aging for women.  In an affirming, positive way she is showing us the flip side of ageist attitudes which would have us believe that older women are past their prime. She refutes that idea that life after menopause is all downhill.

Wise shares five insights from her work, which I want to summarize for you:

1. …more mature women often report being more comfortable with their sexuality, having learned more about their bodies, how to take risks to ask for what they want, how to claim their desire, and ultimately feel more comfortable in their bodies, despite the lumps and bumps. 

2  Confidence is the most powerful aphrodisiac on the planet. If you talk to sexually active women, the ones who are having the best time aren’t necessarily the thinnest, the prettiest, or the fittest. They are the ones who believe that their lovers are lucky to have them.

3. We need to redefine successful aging to embrace the process of aging rather than deny it. We need to radically accept that getting old is okay. 

4. As we age, we have the opportunity to re-examine our relationship to …sex, be more focused on giving and receiving pleasure, and connecting intimately, authentically, and fully with our partners. There is simply no expiration date on having fun in the erotic playground with our partners.

5. Giving up sex is okay at any age—but giving up pleasure is not.  …pleasure is not a luxury but a necessity for a well-functioning emotional brain. By expanding our concept of sexuality to include the erotic, which enlivens and gives us joy, we can expand the limited notion of being sexual as involving the genitals and friction to a broader menu of turn-ons.

She reminds us that much of the work of remaining a sexually active women is rooted in mindset and changing the beliefs we have learned about aging. We must adopt a more positive and accepting attitude about how our body is changing and our right to live pleasure-filled, sexual lives. For some this may feel daunting but it is worth the effort.


Another good, research-based article on sex and aging: Sex, investigated:We are only just starting to realise how important sex is to older people

And, if you’re interested in learning more about how you can create a more pleasure-filled life you might like my book, Inviting Desire.


Photo by RODOLFO BARRETO on Unsplash

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