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Spice It Up With Sex Toys for Older Adults

Sex after 50 isn’t always easy, but sex toys can help


spinner image a person in bed giving a thumbs up
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While the mind might be ready for sex after 50, the body doesn’t always cooperate. One thing that can help: sex toys designed for older adults. 

Lightweight, ergonomic and easy to operate, the sex toy industry is coming up with ways to help the over-50 crowd find pleasure at a time in life that can be challenging in bed. 

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​It’s about expanding the sexual menu when the sex you’re used to isn’t necessarily accessible or satisfying after 50, says certified sex therapist Sandi Kaufman, who practices in Remsenburg, New York. An AARP survey of older adults’ sexual habits found that less than half were satisfied with their current sex life.

The main culprits older adults blame for low sexual satisfaction, according to the survey, include declining health, stress and life-stage changes. 

“We’re talking about older adults with erectile unpredictability, dry vaginas that can make sex uncomfortable, knee replacements, back issues, arthritis,” says Kaufman. “What I’m talking about is trying to get people to think more openly about what sex looks like as they encounter aging bodies.”

Give yourself permission to use toys

One of the biggest hurdles: giving yourself permission to use them, says Marilyn Jerome, M.D., a Washington, D.C., gynecologist whose practice consists primarily of older women. 

Jerome recalls being “thrilled” when a single woman in her 80s felt comfortable talking to her about how she still felt sexual but had been taught masturbation is wrong.  She advised her patient to get a vibrator. 

In Jerome’s lobby, there’s a display case featuring eight vibrators made of medical-grade silicone that are attractive, easy to use, and come with a charger, USB port and a carrying case. She also stocks dilators that, with lubricant, stretch out the vagina and relax the vaginal muscles to help prepare for comfortable penetrative sex. 

“My thought was that if I carry these in my office, I am giving patients permission to use them, telling patients this is normal,” Jerome says. 

And it is normal. The AARP survey also found that one in three older adults used a vibrator for personal enjoyment or during sex with a partner.

That there are toys available for any relationship status is especially helpful for an age group that is no stranger to life changes. 

​One of the reasons sex toys can be relevant later in life is that many people are widowed, divorced, separated — or otherwise single. As Kaufman puts it: “Older women, especially, are used to following a particular sex script. They now want to expand their sexual experience with a new partner or alone.” For many, that means using a toy and discovering the “mind-blowing arousal” that comes with it.

Talk to your partner 

If you do have a partner, it can sometimes be tricky to bring up sex toys as an option. Kaufman says some people believe it’s wrong to use them. Others are afraid they’ll become addicted to the toys or their partner’s ego will take a hit because they may suddenly feel they’re not “enough” anymore. 

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 Kaufman’s advice? Keep it simple. For a lot of older women, for example, it’s easier to orgasm with a vibrator. One conversational approach she recommends: “I’ve gone through menopause. Orgasms are taking me longer. How do we accommodate that? We’re aging and we need to think differently about things. It’s not about you. It’s about my body and what I need.”

Find the right toys for your needs

​Wands that deliver varying strengths and patterns for clitoral stimulation and/or penetration and palm-held vibrators for external use on the vulva are among Kaufman’s top recommendations for women. 

​Other good options, she says: dildos in various sizes; suction devices that vibrate the clitoris while also massaging the G-spot; and a toy, designed like a tongue that simulates the experience of receiving oral sex.  Many toys come with remote controls, and some work for partnered sex.

For men, Kaufman recommends prostate toys that stimulate the prostate erotically and massage it as well, heightening orgasm. They also help tone the pelvic floor muscles.

She says vibrating sleeves placed around the penis can be set to a wide range of vibrations, intensities and rhythms, depending on what pleasures the man wants most. There are also beads that are inserted in the anus that can heighten orgasm. Also available: masturbation sleeves that mimic intercourse and C rings designed to support and strengthen erections.

Kaufman says the bottom line is that sex toys can be a helpful part of maintaining a healthy sex life ­— something that is important to overall health. “Toys can make that happen,” she says.

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