In your 20s and 30s, you may have viewed sex differently than you do now that you’re older. It was fun — exciting even — but you also may have been more focused on getting pregnant or avoiding pregnancy with birth control. If you did have children, caring for them likely became your focus. Like many couples, you may have pushed sex to the back burner: just something to do when you had the strength and didn’t fall asleep within minutes of going to bed.
Now that you’re entering midlife and beyond, you might see sex as boring. You might find that you and your partner have sex regularly, but not frequently. But it doesn’t have to be that way. At this time of your life, sex is for enjoyment: yours and your partner’s.
Here are 10 ways you can work to improve the quality of your sex life after age 50.
For some women, sex after menopause is uncomfortable. The decrease in estrogen can cause vaginal dryness, which can make sex painful. For many women, over-the-counter lubricants help. There are a variety of different types of lubricants on the market; experiment with different ones to find what works best for you. Lubricants work great when used right before intercourse, but you can also try vaginal moisturizers, which last longer and can be applied several hours or days before, allowing you to be spontaneous without stopping to apply lubricant. These products are available in the same aisle as vaginal lubricants in your supermarket or pharmacy.
2. Take your time
Now that you’re older, you may not have the same responsibilities you used to have. You probably don’t have to worry about finishing up before a child wakes up in the morning or a baby’s naptime ends. Without kids in the house, sex can take as long as you want it to. There is plenty of time for foreplay, exploring each other’s bodies and touching. Spend time focusing on each other instead of thinking about your other responsibilities.
3. Focus on your pleasure
Women often believe that sex is a success when their partner reaches climax. Because of this, they focus on their partner rather than learning what gives themselves pleasure. When you take the time to learn what turns you on, your sex life improves. And, as it turns out, men are more sexually satisfied when their partner’s are satisfied.
4. Share your fantasies
For some women, the idea of sexual fantasies may seem indecent. But sexual fantasies are just that: fantasies. Pay attention to yours. You don’t need to act on them, but acknowledging them and sharing them can increase your feelings of intimacy with your partner.
5. Keep having sex
Having sex keeps your body in shape to have more sex. “Use it or lose it” is true when it comes to intercourse. Your vagina can shrink and become less elastic (called vaginal atrophy) when you don’t use it, making sex painful when you do have it, according to the International Society for Sexual Medicine. Regular sex will help keep your vagina in shape.
Let your partner know what you want, how you feel about sex, and what you think about after sex. Make sure to word it in a way that isn’t accusatory and communicates that you want to improve your sex life because it is important to you. Talking openly about sex increases sexual satisfaction in both men and women, according to one study.
7. Get creative
If your sex life has become boring because you do the same thing every time, try to change things up. Try different positions. Get a book of sexual positions and see how many you can master. Use sex toys, try different lubricants, or have a no-intercourse night and touch and massage one another.
8. Plan sex
You might think the loss of spontaneity will make sex boring, but the opposite can also be true. When you plan for sex, you have the chance to build up the anticipation beforehand. Wear something that makes you feel sexy, set the mood, and flirt throughout the day. The lead-up can more than make up for the loss of spontaneity.
Staying limber and flexible helps you enjoy sex more. Take a brisk walk daily or join a yoga class. Better yet, exercise with your partner to add to your intimacy.
10. See your doctor
If you are having sexual concerns, such as pain or a decrease in sexual desire, talk to your doctor. Make sure there aren’t any physical problems that would prevent you from enjoying sex. If you are experiencing postmenopausal symptoms, there are treatments available.
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Eileen Bailey is a freelance health writer. She is the author of What Went Right: Reframe Your Thinking for a Happier Now, Idiot’s Guide to Adult ADHD, Idiot’s Guide to Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, Essential Guide to Overcoming Obsessive Love, and Essential Guide to Asperger’s Syndrome. She can be found on Twitter @eileenmbailey and on Facebook at eileenmbailey.