Sexual Wellness Resource Center
For Adults over 50.

Senior Sexuality: The Joy and Magic of Orgasms

By Michael Bates, M.D.

Orgasms may be more difficult to reach with aging, but they’re still achievable—and so important for our wellbeing.

I recently read a question from a 78 year old woman asking about orgasm. Her husband had died 5 years earlier and since his death she had been masturbating to reach orgasm.  She now had a new partner with whom she was having exciting sex—however, she was not reaching orgasm. What could she do?

Here on this website dedicated to sexual health for those over 50, we talk a lot about orgasm—that intense peak of sexual pleasure followed by the warm glow of emotional satisfaction—and its many benefits. In other words, the natural and healthy result of human sexual response.

Let’s review some of the benefits of orgasm:

  • The release of endorphins, a morphine-like substance produced by the body, which leads to euphoria, pleasure, and an increase in pain tolerance.

  • The release of oxytocin, a hormone responsible for various behaviors such as contentment, stress reduction, and sleep induction.  

  • Stimulation of the immunologic system, something than can protect against viruses that cause the flu and the common cold. Orgasm may also play a role in the natural cancer cell fighting functioning of the immune system.

  • There are lower rates of depression, anxiety, and suicide in those who are regularly sexually active. Frequency of sex is a major predictor of longevity.

  • Decreases incontinence

  • Lowers blood pressure

  • Helps keep your brain sharp

What are some of the difficulties in reaching orgasm as we age?

As good as orgasms are, they become more difficult to reach with aging. Both sexes find they are slower to arouse and slower to reach orgasm.

  • Women have less blood flow to the clitoris. They produce less lubrication and there is less pliability of the vaginal walls. Longer clitoral stimulation is needed for arousal and orgasm.

  • Men also have less blood flow to the pelvis and require more tactile stimulation to get an erection or may not be able to get an erection at all. Erections may not be firm enough or last long enough for penetration. There is less muscle strength in the pelvic floor for thrusting. Orgasm takes longer to reach.

Not to despair—these changes are normal, and they don’t need to put an end to sexual pleasure and orgasm.

What are some solutions to help achieve orgasm with aging?

Indeed, this time in life offers the opportunity to expand what sex is. It’s a time for exploration and experimentation, a time to enjoy non-penetrative sex (also called “outercourse”), and perhaps most important of all, a time of enhanced communication and intimacy with your loved one.  

Sex aids, also called sex toys, are another solution. We use hearing aids to maintain our ability to hear, glasses to maintain our visual acuity, pacemakers to maintain heart function, and canes to walk with more stability. More and more senior couples also use sex aids to maintain their sexual intimacy. Vibrators increase blood flow to the pelvis, they are not gender specific, they shorten arousal time, they assist achieving of orgasm and they can be used alone or with a partner.

If you don’t fold or unfold as easily as you once did, if your hands and fingers are affected by arthritis, or if your stamina is shortened by age or chronic illness, sex toys are credible aids to achieve orgasm and enjoy all of its positive benefits. Sex, pleasure, and orgasm are not age dependent; they don’t have to be abandoned with aging. 

What about the 78 year old woman’s question? You now have the answer.

If you’re interested in trying sexual aids, you can shop our online store in the comfort of your home, with no pornography or graphic ads. Not sure what to choose? Our Sex Aids for Beginners category and Buying Guide are great places to start.

About the Author

Michael Bates, M.D.

Dr Bates practiced obstetrics and gynecology for 34 years in Wichita, Kansas, until his retirement in 2011.

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