Suggestions for women and men over 50 years of age
There is a widespread view that sex for women ends around the time of the menopause. And indeed, many women beyond 50 don’t seem to have much of a sex life.
Unfortunately, this problem isn’t limited to women who’ve gone through the menopause: in 1999 the American Medical Association published a study which revealed that as many as 43% of women aged between 18 and 59 have experienced some sexual problem – lack of desire, pain during intercourse, low arousal, performance anxiety, or anorgasmia.
What is more surprising is that these sexual problems were not limited to any particular age group: another study revealed that 36% of women with sexual problems were aged below 40, 32% were in their 40s and 50s, and 31% had gone through the menopause. That shows age alone isn’t the cause of the reduction in a woman’s sexual desire and activity.
This isn’t just because the menopause provides a natural breakpoint in life which gives women a very good reason to examine how their lives are working, and perhaps to change what they’re doing, it’s also because women of this age have the wisdom and sexual experience to be fully in tune with their sexuality and to enjoy it to the full.
The question is of course how many women over 50 are aware of this, and how many of them know how to grasp their sexual potential and enjoy it to the full.
Myths and facts about men over 50
Culturally, we live in a society where women over 50 have traditionally not been seen as particularly sexually active, and certainly not sexually active with men much younger than themselves.
However, there is plenty of circumstantial evidence that men in their 30s, and possibly even younger, find women in their 50s increasingly attractive.
Sex is entering a whole new territory: men over 50 may find that their erections are less certain and less firm, and that their overall level of sexual desire has decreased.
Dating advice for men over 50
Women over 50, given all the advantages of a place in life where they can relinquish responsibility for family and home, begin to focus more on themselves; potentially they have more discretionary income and the freedom to help them enjoy it; above all, these days, they may find themselves the object of sexual desire from men in a way they never expected to encounter at this time of life.
And, of course, the other thing that helps women cope with life changes is that they are used to them – for women, change in status and expectations are common as they move from adolescence into young womanhood, then to marriage or relationship, then to motherhood.
Later, as they let the children go, they move into the adventures of midlife and the menopause…no wonder a woman has the experience of and ability to cope with change!
Furthermore, after the age of 50 a woman has no agenda about having children, and her biological clock has stopped ticking. She’s probably overcome the fantasy of a man riding in to save her on a white charger (metaphorically speaking!); she may not expect a man to rescue her or carry her off in a dream of romance; she is probably learning how to live fully in her own sexuality and wisdom, despite the things in life that may have disappointed her and the dreams that may not have been fulfilled.
Empowered and accepting it’s OK to be sexual, a woman around this age can explore her sexuality, possibly seek romance, and certainly expect to achieve sexual satisfaction.
This is something that can happen to all women, not just those who find themselves single in midlife: women in a stable, long-term, committed relationship can move from a place where sex is either unsatisfying or infrequent to a place where sex is an important part of everyday life, and provides many satisfying orgasms.
In short, 50 can represent the start of a whole new phase of life; even though you’ve lived through the fertile years of adulthood and perhaps brought up children, fifty represents a time of potential transition from first adulthood to second adulthood.
What’s more, if you’re healthy when you reach 50 your chance of getting to a ripe old age is very high: a woman in the US free of cancer and heart disease at the age of 50 can now expect to live to 92, according to epidemiological research.
Gail Sheehy coined the terms first adulthood and second adulthood. She said that in our first adulthood we’re simply consumed with moving from A to B to C — meaning, I assume, that we move from one stage of life to another almost inevitably as people have done for generations: moving out of the family home, separating from our parents, testing our ability to survive as independent adults, developing intimate relationships, and gaining the skills and abilities that we need to support ourselves in life before we put down our own roots, and then have a family.
Obviously it’s a mistake to believe that you can hang onto the same values that sustain you up to age 50 in the years beyond that, for the expectations that life puts on you are quite different, and so are the responsibilities that you will have.
In other words, you need to adapt your expectations and beliefs about life and yourself to be able to enjoy your second adulthood beyond fifty years of age, and to feel less anxiety and greater self-confidence and fulfillment.
A natural transition beyond the age of 50 for both men and women is to find yourself feeling less competitively driven, feeling a pull to take on a role that is more like that of mentor or teacher to those younger than yourself.