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Sex Furniture Adds Zing (and Support) to Aging Bodies

From benches to wedge pillows, sex furniture can take lovemaking to the next level

spinner image couples and singles trying out different pieces of sex furniture
Illustration: Sara Maese

You already know about sex toys, but sex furniture? Yep, it’s a thing – and it can take sexual intimacy for older adults to a new level. Trust us: You’ll never look at your favorite armchair in quite the same way again.

Sexual wellness experts say sex furniture is beneficial for two reasons. Not only does it push sex play beyond same-old, same-old (83 percent of adults surveyed by AARP said they have sexual fantasies), it serves as “adaptive” equipment that provides support for body parts that may no longer be limber.

spinner image a black tantra chair on a green background
A tantra chair.
Courtesy: Zen By Design

“When you’re younger, it feels very natural to throw everything off the kitchen table and go at it,” says Jane Fleishman, an AASECT-certified sex educator with a doctorate in human sexuality from the Widener University Center for Human Sexuality Studies in Chester, Pennsylvania. “When you get older, that’s often not the case.” The same AARP survey on older adults and sexual habits and desires found that the frequency of sex declines with age.

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What is sex furniture?

Sex furniture – ranging from hammocks to wedge pillows and tantra chairs – may not be part of your current sex script, but it’s more mainstream than you might think. It’s even sold by major companies like Amazon, Etsy, Wayfair and Ikea.

spinner image gray wedge on a yellow background
A wedge.
Courtesy: Liberator

Want to see what we’re talking about? Netflix has produced a reality show called How to Build a Sex Room. In the show, Los Angeles interior designer Melanie Rose, a sex furniture specialist, helps couples figure out where they want to take their sexual appetites and what would work best for them. 

One of her favorite pieces: the tantra chair, inspired by the sex positions detailed in the ancient text, Kama Sutra.

“It’s quite beautiful and elegant in its own right,” she says. “It helps the lovemaking experience by supporting the arch of the back and the bottom, which changes the pelvic angles. It lends itself to finding some really interesting sexual positions while also supporting those parts of the body that need support.”

How it can help aging bodies find pleasure – and avoid pain

Injury and illness like sore hips and knees, a bad back, arthritis and lymphatic disease can make having sex on a hard or flat surface uncomfortable and even undoable. That’s where sex furniture can help.

spinner image a gray divan on a blue background
A divan with light restraints.
Courtesy: Liberator

“Sex furniture, such as wedges, specialty made couches and chairs, can absolutely make positions more comfortable for bodies that need extra support. As people age, flexibility starts to decrease, so supportive sex furniture can make all the difference,” says Evelin Molina Dacker, a physician and medical director of Vida Integrative Medicine in Salem, Oregon. 

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It can help you perform sexual acts that you might have had to give up as you got older, says Fleishman, who heads Northampton, Massachusetts-based Speaking Of LLC, a consulting group specializing in sexuality and older adults. 

“Some people may not be able to withstand the pressure of holding their partner, rubbing their partner, stimulating their partner – even holding their toys.”

Communicate with your partner about what you’re looking for

“When it comes to healthy sexuality, we can achieve higher levels of connection and pleasure with things that push us to a new level of excitement. Sex furniture can be that thing,” says Sandi Kaufman, an AASECT certifiedsex therapist . 

spinner image a teal mount pillow on a red background
A mount pillow.
Courtesy: Liberator

Before going shopping, Kaufman advises couples to have a conversation about how furniture might play a role in their sex life, including what they hope to get out of using it.

When venturing into a new area – whether it’s pushed by physical limitations or fantasy – Kaufman, based in Remsenburg, New York, suggests asking each other the following: 

  • How do we think differently about sex and our needs?  
  • What are each of our goals? 
  • Are they visual or orgasm-focused? 
  • Does pain management play a part in how we need to think about intimacy?
  • Is it time to bond in new ways?
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“A huge piece of this is about communication and rethinking, to a great extent, what your sexual connection is to each other,” she adds. “As you discuss this, be present in the moment while curiously exploring what’s going on mentally, physically and emotionally. Pleasure, with all its health benefits, is more important than ever as our bodies age.”  

Sex furniture, according to sex wellness experts, can enhance connection, intimacy and communication while improving personal self-esteem. Kaufman adds that it can also contribute to creating a “responsive desire” scenario at a time in life when spontaneous desire triggered by hormones may no longer be possible.

spinner image a red sex blanket on a teal background
A sex blanket.
Courtesy: Liberator

“This creates adventure rather than following the same old sex script. It’s like a team sport rather than focusing on individual performance,” Kaufman says. “Are we getting aroused together? Are we feeling desire for one another?”

Find the furniture that’s right for you – and your body

Sex furniture can do a lot of jobs – from bringing fantasy positions to life to helping angle the hips and pelvis in a way that is comfortable. Some of Fleischman’s favorites:

  • A wedge pillow or ramp that props your partner’s butt in the air and gives the receptive partner something to lie against, creating a comfortable position for missionary sex.
  • Hammocks or swings that may remind you of having sex outdoors, enhancing intimacy and bringing the natural world inside.
  • Sex chairs for intimate face-to-face contact.
  • Sex sheets or blankets that help keep the surface dry and clean. “In my classes, I tell folks to embrace the awkward. When you have sex, you might have some weird sounds or smells or emissions,” adds Fleishman. “If you don’t want to make a mess and if you want really good wet sex, this is a solution. Goodbye buzzkill, stay in the moment and embrace each other’s pleasure.”

Bottom line, sex furniture is about embracing something new as your body ages. “There’s no right or wrong way to have sex, but sex furniture is something that helps us expand our understanding of what that looks like as we get older,” says Fleishman.​​

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