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Answers to Your Top Sex, Dating and Relationship Questions

Advice from our expert Dr. Pepper Schwartz

                   Related
                   • How to get what you want in bed
                   • How sex changes for men over 50
                   • 5 things you oughta know about sex

Featured
Question

Q: "I suffer from back problems, and during sex I sometimes have to stop because of the pain. What can I do?"

 

A: All backs are not created equal, so finding a comfortable position is a trail-and-error kind of deal. For many people, the easiest options are the "scissor" (where both partners lie on their side, facing each other, limbs entangled) or the "spoon" (where one partner cuddles up against the other's back). For men with back pain, try sitting on a chair that has good support. Your partner can then sit on top either facing toward or away from you. Then there's a technique I call "love from above": The guy lies on his back, while the woman lowers herself over him. (Beware: She needs to have strong legs and a good back for this one.) What to avoid? Stay away from the doggie position and classic missionary position, both of which require back strength.

Your Questions
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Alternatives to Intercourse

If He Says No Use a Vibrator

Q: I've given up! I have NOT had sex in 12 years. My husband hasn't been able to perform, and doesn't want to talk about it. He gets angry and is very frustrated. After all these years, I'm afraid to have sex now anyway!

 

A: Let me suggest a small step towards sexual satisfaction: Buy a vibrator.

 

I can't make your husband go see a therapist, and I can't make him talk about it (although I truly wish I could). However, I can help you get your sexual enjoyment back.

 

Every woman can wake up her sexual appetite and enjoy orgasms if she gets a great vibrator and experiments with how to use it. It might take a while to re-educate your body, as 12 years off is a long time, but you know what they say about getting on a bicycle– Even if you haven't ridden one in a long time, it isn't too hard to get the hang of it again, right away!

 

Vibrators come in two types: internal and external. See what you like, but believe me, if you take even a little time with this, you will like it very much.

 

Don't worry; you don't have to walk into a sex shop to find one. There are a lot of female-owned sex shops online these days, and many with feminist philosophies and absolute privacy policies that they never violate. I would recommend: Babesintoyland.com, Evesgarden.com, or Goodvibes.com (there are many others, too). They are mostly female-owned (Goodvibes.com has been sold, but the site managers still have the same philosophy).

 

If you are overwhelmed while looking online (there are so many types that it can be a bit mind-boggling), you can call the customer-service department and get some expert advice.

 

This may not be as good as having a husband who wants to make love with you—but as a second choice—it's really very satisfying.

Should I Masturbate If My Wife Doesn't Want Sex?

Q: What would you suggest when your partner doesn't even want to talk about sex let alone have it? She says there is nothing wrong with me, but she is just not interested, for the last eight years. All she will give me is an occasional "chicken peck kiss."

 

A: Well, if there is nothing wrong with her, why are you putting up with this? I mean, seriously, I read all these letters about partners who won't even talk about not having sex, and it starts to get to me. When you got married, no one put in the marriage vows that you were going to have to be celibate. The least a partner should do is be willing to work on this issue with you, see a doctor, a relationship therapist, a sex therapist, or someone who can help restore physical intimacy to your relationship.

 

It just isn't fair making a unilateral decision that both of you will have to be celibate for the rest of your life.

 

If it were me, I would ask my partner to help give me pleasure; similar to how I would help him if he were in the mood and if I wasn't. It would be the loving thing to do.

 

If my partner didn't care about my happiness (and I think sexual expression is an important part of happiness), I'd get myself to a therapist and ask my partner if he wanted to come along. If he didn't, I would explore this by myself and see why I'm staying with someone who doesn't care about the impact of this situation on my personal health and well-being.

 

I am very sympathetic when someone has lost his or her libido and is trying hard to find a solution. I am also sympathetic when someone isn't too interested but finds a way to help his or her partner feel sexually satisfied. However, when one partner retreats and won't help find an answer to the problem, I am forced to think that more is missing in the relationship than just sex; and that needs some attention, ASAP.

Husband's medical condition prevents sex

Q: My husband can no longer perform because of medical reasons, but I still have needs. I love him very much, but I've been without sex for two years now. Help!

 

A: If you and your husband have a good relationship, he can do lots of things for you, even if he cannot have erections, has bad arthritis or some other disabling physical challenges. Unless he is totally immobilized, the two of you can touch and kiss. He can still satisfy you sexually — if both of you have the kind of communication and comfort with each other where you can tell him what you need, and he is pleased to provide it.

 

There is nothing inferior about intimacy through touch. Though it is different and perhaps less "connected" than having intercourse, it can certainly be enormously satisfying. Many men, even if they cannot enjoy sex themselves, are very proud and happy to help their partner be sexually fulfilled.

Faking response to sex

Q: I am 55 and for the past five years I have been faking sex. My husband thinks I am having an affair, but I am not. I really hate sex. Is there something wrong with me? What can I do to change my feelings? I don't want to lose my husband; we have been married for 37 years.

 

A. This is a very serious issue. I am so sorry that you have had to fake your response, which is alienating and sad for you, and not good for your relationship either.  You need to see a sex therapist — one that is a good psychologist and who can also give you a medical work-up.  We need to find out if your disgust with sex is the result of early trauma, hormones, inadequate technique on the part of your husband, or even childhood religious messages. There are many reasons that can make sex a negative experience.

It is not a question whether or not something is "wrong" with you, but rather how can we make this at least a pleasant experience for you. I know some counselors might say its fine that you don't like sex, but the truth is, I have seen a lot of long term marriages break up over this issue. If you want to save your marriage, it seems that you need to address this issue. First, you have to tell him at least part of the truth — that sex hasn't been working for you for a long time (forever?) and that you need help. Tell him there is no one else, but this has been a problem that you've been afraid to share for awhile. Tell him you are seeking professional help because you want to be able to share a physical life with him that is pleasing to you both, and you don't know why it has changed for you. I would dwell on the positive — how much you love him, how much you enjoy his kissing or embraces (he will need some reassurance) and that you want to find a solution. Then, hopefully, he will be more patient as you work through this problem and, I trust, come to a better sexual response.

I just finished talking to a woman with this same problem and recommending a similar answer. Before she could get to a therapist, he walked out. I don't know what is going to happen there, but I think she waited too long and he felt too rejected.  So, that's why I encourage you to take this on as a problem that can be solved. It will take some time to understand and fix, but if you love your husband, and he loves you, there should be a way to create a new physical relationship that supports your relationship.

Dating

Concened about dating and STDs

Q: I'm getting back into dating after the loss of a spouse of many years, and I'm concerned about STDs. How do I handle the situation?

A: An important question. I was shocked to see a 2009 AARP survey on sexuality that found only 12 percent of men and 33 percent of women always or regularly use condoms. This is crazy because there are rates, although not high, of sexually transmitted infections in our age group. Still, who wants to risk a disease, even if the risk is low?

So, I think an adult conversation is in order.  Always carry a condom and make sure you know how to use it safely. When things get hot and heavy, take the condom out and use it.  You can make a nice remark such as, "I was hoping this would happen, so I got a condom."  If she is at all insulted, tell her that you believe in safe sex for her and for you, and this is nothing but respect for each other's health.

After awhile, if you feel that this is a steady relationship, you can have that, "are we going to be monogamous" discussion and decide to get tested together for any infections. If you both have none, which is likely, you can discontinue using condoms if you trust your partner — and yourself — enough to have sex only with one another. That is a leap of faith, however, and some people like to continue using condoms, no matter what.

What if he won't go past first base?

Q: I'm 50 and have been seeing a 59-year-old man for almost 4 months. We kiss at the end of the evening — and it's very nice kissing — but never go any further. I'm ready and willing for more intimacy, but he doesn't make a move — and doesn't give any signals that indicate he'd like me to initiate things. How should I handle this?

 

A:  You need to talk to him. It is unusual for a grown man to only want to kiss you after four months of going out. There should at least be a little more passion going on before the end of the evening! So you need to see what he wants out of this relationship. My own guess is its one of three things:

 

a. He just thinks of you as a friend.

b. He thinks of you as a date, but he doesn't want to get beyond that level of a relationship.

c. He very attracted but extremely cautious because of past experience or because he is still attached to someone else even if they are not attached to him.

 

Obviously whichever explanation is true makes a big difference in how you should put him in your emotions and in your life.  But you can't just guess at it. You need to take the issue on and talk to him now.

What Happens When Online Dating Doesn't Work?

Q: I have been on a number of dating sites. All the MEN want is someone to cook and clean and wash dirty underwear. NONE of them like baseball. All want to stay at home or watch TV, etc. What happened to men who have a love of life? I am also not supporting someone who sits on his behind all day. If you have any advice for me, just toss it in the ring.


A: Where have you been looking: Couchpotatodate.com? Seriously, it might be the way you are picking profiles, because this isn't my impression of the online-dating world at all. Granted, there are some oddly disconnected characters out there, but they aren't the majority.

I really have some chops on your question: Not only am I the relationship expert on one of the larger sites, but the Web is where I found the man I am with now. Before that, when I was 55, I started dating online and fell in love several times with people I regard, even in retrospect, as truly worthy.

 

So why aren't you seeing these guys? I don't know. Maybe your search criteria isn't working for you. Try looking for keywords like "athletic," "active," "sports," "baseball fan," "independent," or "hyperactive." Search for results that filter for guys who like an active life—and aren't waiting around for Princess Charming to rescue them and set them up in some castle somewhere.

How Can I Find Out If a Friend Wants to Reciprocate Feelings I Have for Him?

Q: I'm a 61-year-old female dating a 70-year-old male. I have been having real feelings about him, but I don't think he feels quite the same about me. I'm sure there is something there, but I think his feelings are more friendship then anything else. What can I do to correct it?

 

A: Well, the transition from friend to lover is not a small one, as there can be a chasm between the two. Still, it's worth trying, because there might be something unconscious that could come out if the person gets enough encouragement. The tricky thing is how much "encouragement" or honest conversation about this issue is enough to provoke some emotional interest (if that's possible), but not so much that it damages the friendship by embarrassing him.

 

If you do want to test his possible interest in a romantic relationship, you are taking a chance that this might make him back away from you. So have a conversation with yourself about whether or not you are willing to take that risk.

 

If you decide to take the chance, I see two basic approaches: First, be straightforward. For example, "I find myself thinking about you when I'm not with you and having warmer feelings than just friendship. Do you think there is a possibility that you and I might be more than friends?" That puts it plainly, and he can either say something positive, such as, "I didn't realize you felt that way about me. Yes, I would definitely like to see where this relationship can go." Or it could be disappointing: "I'm sorry, but I just don't think of you that way, and I don't see that changing."

 

Either way, at least you'd know.

How Can I Get Friendship Before a Partnership?

Q: Where does a good 62-year-old woman find a man that she can be a friend first and then go from there? Can you help me?

 

A: I think the best way to do this is to meet someone while doing an activity that you like to do. A friendship is built out of shared experiences, so by making it possible to get to know someone better during an activity, without the pressure of a date, you have longer to get acquainted and truly know who this person is.

 

Some people prefer to meet eligible partners through religious organizations, political campaigns, or volunteer work. You have to think creatively about what you like and about what organizations produce events or activities related to your interests. That might not be so easy, because it is one thing to like military history and another to find a military history group that pulls in single people of both sexes. Still, if your hobby isn't likely to produce a new friend whom you might later learn to love, then be brave and think of something new that would be fun to do and that might bring you to meet an interesting person.

 

Broadening your interests could mean you learn to sail, go to art-history lectures, or get serious about wine tasting, but growth is good, right? The highly positive news is that even if many of these groups are false starts—that is, there is no one in the group that attracts you— you will still get out of the house, learn new pastimes, make new friends, and have a good time.

I Need to Find a Mate Who Enjoys Sex As Much As Me. Any Suggestions?

Q: I am a 53-year-old African American heterosexual male who is active. I love to play golf, work out, travel and have sex. My libido has not changed since I was in my 20s. If I could, I would have sex daily. One problem: I am having a hard time finding a woman who shares that same interest. She does not have to want sex daily; however, she must share my desires and interest in fitness, golf, traveling, sex, and other activities.

 

I prefer dating women who are African American. Lately, it is becoming more apparent that I may have to venture out and date women of other nationalities because of the slim pickings among African American women who share my interests.  Are there any dating sites for people over 40 who have similar interests? Is there anything that you can suggest which may assist me with this endeavor?

 

A: Thanks for your question. You sound like a great person with a strong libido and a very good sense of what makes you happy. Of course you can find someone over 40 who shares your interests in sex, golf, being fit, and having sex—but as you can imagine, the more "must haves" there are on your list, the longer it could take you to find someone.

 

You may need to date quite a bit to find the right person. So the wider the scope of that search (by race, age, ethnicity, geography, profession, or other criteria), the easier it might be to find your true love.

 

For most people 40-plus, dating online offers the largest number of eligible people. And the good news for you: People 45 and older are the fastest-growing age group on the dating sites. There are a few websites just for older people, but there are many boomers on every site.

 

Some websites might get you closer to your goal than others, however. For example, there are sites just for African Americans, there are sites just for single golfers, single people who like to work out, and single people who love to travel! I kid you not: If you type in "dating," "fit singles," "travel singles," or whatever, you will find boutique sites that cover at least one of your requirements in a mate.

 

You do have to be careful about selecting on libido, though. The dating sites that are all about sex are unlikely to help you reach women who are interested in a relationship. And on the general sites (Match.com, PerfectMatch.com, Yahoo Personals, Chemistry.com, and the like) women are suspicious of men who make a big deal about sexual appetite. I think you could say in your essay that you have a healthy libido and you want a life partner who also shares your values about the importance of sex and sensuality in a committed relationship. That would help you meet the women who like sex but don't want a man who's only interested in a wild time and has no desire to create a relationship.

 

Just hang in there. I know that you can find the woman of your dreams.

I Like Dating Men Who Are in Shape. How Can I Politely Decline Suitors When They're Not?

Q: On dating sites, despite putting that I am in great shape and looking for someone at least physically active—I do Bikram yoga seven days a week (90 minutes in 110-degree heat)—I get responses from lovely guys who think I am frigid because I am just not attracted to someone who has what they call a "speed bump" for a belly (but which my son describes as "12 months pregnant"). I am stunned at their presumption that I am not interested in sex. Of course, I don't tell them but just say politely that there is no chemistry for me. I would gently say more, if they asked, and would love to encourage them to live a more healthy life. To me, getting so horribly fat says something about who you are emotionally (for example, not caring about yourself and more, that bothers me, too). I would love some suggestions.

 

A: Many men (and women) probably prefer to think that the person who has rejected them has sexual problems rather than realize it's because of the way they look. In this instance, if a man has a healthy ego and has been successful with women before (no matter what his weight), he is even more likely to interpret your reserve or lack of sexual interest as your problem rather than a lack of chemistry between you.

 

In my role as a dating expert, I tell people that if someone says they are looking for someone fit (even if they also say they will accept someone "average"), they are serious about weight as a selection criteria. I advise people not to contact a weight-conscious person unless they themselves are also very fit.

 

Now of course the problem is, what does each person consider fit? I know that people like you, who are highly invested in being strong and slim and healthy, might have high standards about fitness in general. A man who is 15 pounds overweight might consider himself fit but not be seen as acceptable by someone who has almost no excess body fat.

 

I find it interesting that men get angry that you don't want to date someone with a protruding tummy, since it is more often men than women who insist on their date being very fit and slim. I guess no one likes being seen as physically unacceptable.

 

Still, I believe that there is no right and wrong about personal taste, and you are entitled to your visual needs and values about fitness. If a man doesn't fit your requirements, just gently tell him he's not your type. If he gets defensive or wants to know why the relationship is not progressing, and you need to tell him the truth, just forget about whatever cracks he makes because he is insulted or hurt when you tell him that he is not your physical type. If you have tried to be kind and someone gets nasty, don't let that person's toxic behavior bother you.

 

On the positive side of searching for someone in shape, you might want to go to some sites that stress fitness and that will help you find people with at least that one requirement. Also, if you stay on the general dating sites, be clear about why fitness really matters to you. Talk about nutrition, an active lifestyle, and discipline as an important part of your life. Someone who has those same values and daily habits will be drawn to you.

What Can I Say When There's Zero Chemistry With Someone?

Q: What are some ways to decline a date when there is absolutely no attraction nor interest? Honoring myself and the other person are both important to me.

 

A: What a nice note! I wish everyone were as kind and thoughtful as you are. People can be unintentionally cruel (not responding at all, or saying things like "you sound too arrogant," or "you're too old," or other things that can hurt someone's ego).

 

I think the best way to do it is by saying the least, and as you say, with respect. I believe you can say some variation of the following: "You seem like a very nice (or interesting) person, but I am looking for the man who will be with me for the rest of my life. For various reasons, I know that you are not that person. Thank you so much for contacting me, and I wish you good luck in your search for a partner."

 

And good luck to you. Stay strong!

Where can a widow meet someone with similar interests?

Q: I lost my husband two years ago. I have dated about four men. I haven't found anyone who likes to do the same things I do since my husband. Is it possible? I am 51.


A: Here's another idea. Join singles groups that do the activities you love. If you like to hike, you are likely to meet men who like to hike in a hiking club. If you like opera, join a group that supports opera. Almost all activities have either singles groups or mixed groups of singles and married people who are all devoted to the activity at hand. But remember, if you don't find someone interesting in the group, you should leave — don't get stuck in a place where there is no opportunity to meet someone. Remember, the ultimate goal is to meet the love of your life.

Initiating Sex With a Spouse

How Do I Ask Her for Sex?

Q: How does one try to initiate sex with a partner (my wife) who has absolutely no interest in having sex anymore? She did turn 50 this year and has been dealing with menopause for the last five years. I do love my wife very much and am interested in having sex only with her, but she has no interest in having sex at all. Any suggestions?

 

A: First, she's got to agree to work with you on this. See if she will agree to go to a doctor, (you can go along) to get a check up and see if there are physiological reasons for her lack of interest. Sometimes a woman's endocrine system can be out of balance—or there could even be nerve impairment. Additionally, medicines for heart, diabetes, or depression often interfere with desire. In any case, ask your doctor for a reference (if he or she does not specialize in sexual medicine). You could also e-mail AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors, and Therapists) for references in your area.

 

Second, you can take a closer look at the relationship itself. Are you having fun together? Doing romantic dates? Touching, hugging, and kissing? There may be an affection deficit that blocks sexual interest—or unresolved issues that interfere. Figuring out an explanation for lost sexual desire often requires the collaboration of one or more health professionals, because there are so many possible causes. But think of it as team-building; the two of you may need another team member for a while to help you uncover what happened to your wife's libido.

 

I think it's great that you are willing to work on this with her, rather than just be angry or unfaithful. That's love in my book!

What If He Says No to Sex?

Q: I've given up! I have NOT had sex in 12 years. My husband hasn't been able to perform, and doesn't want to talk about it. He gets angry and is very frustrated. After all these years, I'm afraid to have sex now anyway!

 

A: Let me suggest a small step towards sexual satisfaction: Buy a vibrator.

 

I can't make your husband go see a therapist, and I can't make him talk about it (although I truly wish I could). However, I can help you get your sexual enjoyment back.

 

Every woman can wake up her sexual appetite and enjoy orgasms if she gets a great vibrator and experiments with how to use it. It might take a while to re-educate your body, as 12 years off is a long time, but you know what they say about getting on a bicycle– Even if you haven't ridden one in a long time, it isn't too hard to get the hang of it again, right away!

 

Vibrators come in two types: internal and external. See what you like, but believe me, if you take even a little time with this, you will like it very much.

 

Don't worry; you don't have to walk into a sex shop to find one. There are a lot of female-owned sex shops online these days, and many with feminist philosophies and absolute privacy policies that they never violate. I would recommend: Babesintoyland.com, Evesgarden.com, or Goodvibes.com (there are many others, too). They are mostly female-owned (Goodvibes.com has been sold, but the site managers still have the same philosophy).

 

If you are overwhelmed while looking online (there are so many types that it can be a bit mind-boggling), you can call the customer-service department and get some expert advice.

 

This may not be as good as having a husband who wants to make love with you—but as a second choice—it's really very satisfying.

Coax Wife to Discuss Our Sex Problems?

I Like Sex More Often Than My Wife. Am I Sick?

Q: I am a 58-year-old male, and my wife and I have been married 33 years this month. Our sex life is great, but I like sex four or five times a week. Right now we average two, three, or four times a week. Am I sick or what? Do I have a problem? I'm still very attracted to my wife.

 

A: Well, the good news is that you are very attracted to your wife. There are lots of women out there wishing their husbands could have written the letter you sent me.

 

The "bad news" is that there are few men or women who have your libido, especially in a 33-year relationship. That's kind of a tough situation, because your wife is already having sex more than 90 percent (and that's a conservative estimate) of the married women of her age—I am assuming she is more or less your age—and duration of relationship. If she is having sex two to four times a week, she obviously loves sex, too, but just not quite as much as you do.

 

I don't think it's a good thing to press her for more sex if she's happy with the rate she has sex. Ordinarily, if someone wants sex once or twice a week and their partner isn't willing, I am sympathetic towards the person who is getting shut out. But in this case, well, a lot of sex is going on. You are not exactly deprived!

 

But that doesn't mean you can't have sexual excitement when your partner is uninterested. Masturbation can be a great alternative. You can fantasize about your wife or let your mind roam freely and have a pretty great orgasm. Granted, it may not match making love, but no orgasm is worthless. (OK, maybe there are some situations you wouldn't absolutely relish, but let's assume you can have some that are very good.) I know that some women and men feel that masturbating when they are married isn't quite right, but I'm a fan of it. This way, your wife knows that you are not feeling frustrated, and you aren't looking for someone else either. It's safe, private, and respects her wishes.

 

I don't think you are sick, just unusual. And you do have to respect the fact that your wife is doing her fair share. Pushing for more could take your flourishing sex life and turn it into something less wonderful for both of you. So, congratulations on a great sex life, but leave well enough alone. Honor her somewhat lower level of libido. Take care of your additional needs by, to paraphrase Woody Allen's famous quote, having sex with someone you love: yourself!

Life After Divorce

I've Found Post-Divorce Sex Is Difficult

Q: Well I just had to comment on this great topic. I am a male, 64, and divorced. I just love all types of sex, but being divorced at this age is very, very hard to find a sex partner with the same outlook. It seems like older woman feel it is more trouble than it is worth. There are all kinds of wonderful acts, and age should never be a factor. Unfortunately most women feel that if they are not 36-24-32, they could not have sex.

 

A: I assure you there are women out there your age and older who treasure passion and sexual creativity. They are wondering where the heck you are! I agree that some women seem to be affected by menopause or other physical issues. Others have been in bad relationships that extinguished some of the joy of sex in their lives. However, I have met many mature women who long for a guy who still wants to be their lover.

 

While it is true that most of us pack a few more pounds than we used to (and in this weight-conscious country, it makes women feel anxious that they are no longer desirable). However, you can change this. If you verbally tell a woman you like her shape and you find her sexually fascinating, it will go a long way to releasing her inner vixen. You need to mean it, and you need to say it. I think you will be surprised how many women this will not only turn on—but also sexually liberate.

How do I know if it's rebound or love?

Q: Divorced husband of 32 years and thought I was done with men. Met someone 60 days post divorce and I think I'm in love. Could it be rebound?


A: I think this is a great question and a lot of people will be interested in this answer because it's a common issue. The answer is, yes it could be, but no it doesn't have to be. Life sometimes delivers the right person right away and I wish we all could experience that. But of course, it could also be that you're lonely, that you miss emotional and sexual contact and that this person provides so much of what you need that you're not looking deeper at all the things you really need to see. So, my recommendation is enjoy it, but take it slow, and don't make any commitments. Don't move in. Don't get engaged. Just enjoy each other and get to know each other better. It's only time that will tell you what you really have.

Health Issues, Safe Sex, Medical Concerns

Do You Suggest a Birth Control Pill?

Q: Please advise what, if there are any, are the recommended birth control for women over 50 years old.

 

A: There are a number of them, but you should see your doctor to give you the full list of particulars. His or her recommendation will vary on whether are not you are with a regular partner, how sexually active you are, whether or not you can use a hormone-based pill, and other factors. For example, if you aren't in a committed relationship, many doctors will recommend condoms, because they are the only method that will prevent most disease transmission. In any case, go see a gynecologist and get a first-rate opinion based on deeper knowledge of your personal-health history and lifestyle.

Condoms Affect My Performance. Any Help?

Q: I have been widowed 10 years and am now 64. I have had two relationships that went great, but now I am in one where I have to use a condom for the first time, and I can get hard but not orgasm and tire out and have to stop. Are condoms a problem for anyone else?

 

A: Dear Cottonstone2: Condoms are a problem for many older men. Usually they complain of losing their erections—so you are way ahead on this one! It sounds like you may be using condoms that decrease sensitivity and therefore make it hard for you to have an orgasm.

 

Permit me to recommend the newer condoms that are extremely thin; they could make a difference for you. Ecstasy, a new condom by Trojan, is loose at the tip, but snug enough at the bottom for safety. I have consulted with them (so take that into account), but the reports I have seen indicate this new design feels liberating and has more sensitivity.

 

Another suggestion would be to try animal skin (lambskin usually) condoms that are made by Durex, Trojan, and Lifestyle. Some men love them, but I would only say use these if you have a monogamous and safe relationship, because they are not as protective against disease. Go take a look at all of the brands' newest products; they keep getting thinner and more inventive. Also, some of them might be fun for your partner (for example, some of them are ribbed).

 

One last thought: There is a female condom, which I have to admit is kind of odd. I am told it feels a little bit like using a baggy. Still, it allows the male to not use a condom, and this might feel better for you.

Is Using Foods During Oral Sex Safe?

 Q: My partner and I love having oral sex. Is it safe to use foods like fruit and whip cream when we do so?

A: It's not a good idea to put foods in the vaginal area. They could create bacteria or yeast, and that will itch and need treatment, which is not so sexy.  If you would like your lover to have the taste of fruit, try fruit-flavored lubricants. But make sure they have no sugar in them — it will say on the label — otherwise you can get the same problem. One other idea: eat a lot of fruit beforehand! Our secretions get somewhat flavored by what we eat.

Male Sex Issues

Erectile Dysfunction

Q: I'm a 75-year-old man who can't maintain an erection.  I've tried all the popular erectile dysfunction pills — without any success. Is there any hope?

 

A: Yes, you've got a couple of choices.  One option is to get a penile implant, an inflatable device that can be pumped up to give you an erection.  This requires surgery, but men I know say that implants work extremely well, don't interfere with male orgasm and are rigid enough to be appreciated by partners.  (These are often prescribed to guys who've had prostate surgery and who've lost the ability to have an erection.)

 

Another option is penile injections.  This is a medicine that you literally inject into your penis; usually, it works its wonders in about 15 minutes or so.  While the idea of giving yourself a shot like that may make you cringe, a lot of men report great success with these injections.

 

You're insurance plan may not cover either of these treatments, and you'll need to see a urologist for both the implant and the injections. But I'd urge you not to give up hope! Modern medicine has a lot to offer in the area of sexual functioning.

Menopause

A drug for women to stimulate sexual desire?

Q: I'm in menopause and I have no desire for sex. At one time I loved it. Is there any medicine that can help a woman like the ones available for men?


A: Maybe. I wish I could give you a complete answer, but right now no drugs are available on the market for women over 50. Some doctors prescribe an herbal compound that they believe helps many women. Dr. Susan Kellogg, a talented physician, says she has had good results with female libido at Drexel University College of Medicine's Women's Health Educational Program in Philadelphia. Doctors also commonly give women testosterone, even though the Food and Drug Administration hasn't approved it for the use of increasing the female libido. Make sure you go to a reputable and careful physician and see what he or she thinks about that treatment.

 

Don't forget other kinds of causes, however. Take a good look at your overall mental mood: Are you depressed or anxious? Are there other changes in your body? Are you taking any hormonal medicines or other medicines that could affect your sex drive? Are there issues with your marriage that could be involved? These all can affect your libido — a lot.

 

I know I've given you a great deal to think about, but sexual interest is often a complex process. So, you must look at all the things that might be implicated in your sex drive. Visiting a specialist in sexual medicine might be a great way to start investigating your situation.

Painful Sex

How Can I Have Sex With Arthritic Hips?

Q: Because of the arthritis in my hips, my range of motion is very limited during lovemaking. I am 53 and my partner is 60. Can anyone suggest alternate positions that might work for us?
 

A: Basically, a spoon position works for either sex. Woman in front, man hugging her from behind and wrapped in a sweet cuddle with little movement required. Also, lying on your back with your legs slightly open should feel pretty comfortable.

Updated November 2011

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