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Safe Sex for Seniors:

Tips for NOT getting a gift that lasts a lifetime

(Read this even if you’re
in a committed relationship!)

By Joan Price

Here's what your doctor doesn't think to tell you...

Whether you're in a monogamous relationship or single and sexually active, you need to protect your sexual health with these precautions:

Get Moist with Lubricants. After menopause and beyond, vaginal tissues thin and dry, and can cause uncomfortable intercourse or even tearing and burning. Protect your delicate tissues with a good lubricant.

Don't rely on what's available at your neighborhood pharmacy – find the one that you like best from your local or online woman-friendly sex shop, which specializes in sexual pleasure. If the mental picture of a "sex shop" makes you shudder, I'll bet you haven't experienced the pleasure of a brightly lighted, educational, welcoming, playful store like those I list in Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty. (If you'd like more privacy, I also list some terrific online stores.)

Some tips for choosing a lubricant:

1. Do NOT use Vaseline, baby oil, cooking oil, or other slippery stuff you might have on hand. These are difficult to clean out of your vagina and can cause irritation or even infection. Use a lubricant made specifically for sexual comfort and pleasure.

2. Many lubricants are fine for quick sex, but for the slow sex that we enjoy as seniors, they may dry too fast or turn tacky. Sex shops will let you try a bit of lubricant on your hand. Try rubbing it and see whether it dries out quickly or stays moist and slippery. If you're ordering online, try a sampler set of different lubricants and enjoy experimenting!

3. Avoid lubricants with sugar, colorings and flavors in them. Glycerin/ glycerol is a sugar, which feeds yeast and causes vaginal irritation. (In fact, keep food away from the vagina entirely -- no whipped cream or chocolate during oral sex!)

Safe Sex Toys

As we age, we tend to need more stimulation, and sometimes a plug-in or battery-operated vibrator is just what we need for enhanced arousal. These tips will let you have pleasure without problems:

1. Not all sex toys are created equal. Some of the bargain, imported cheapies labeled "for novelty use" may break or contain chemicals that you don't want moving around inside you. Choose your toy from a reputable neighborhood or online store that takes your sexual health seriously.

2. Never use the same toy (or finger, or other body part) for both anal and vaginal stimulation, because you can can transmit bacteria from one area to the other, even if you're squeaky clean from the shower. If you want the freedom of mobility, so to speak, cover your sex toy with a condom when you use it anally and remove or change the condom for vaginal insertion.

3. Of course you'll want to use lubricant with your sex toy. Choose a water-based lubricant with a toy made of silicone, Cyberskin or rubber, because silicone lubricants melt the surfaces of sex toys with these materials.

Please don't shy away from lubes or toys because of these precautions – they really will enhance your sensation and pleasure!

Single and sexually active?

I know that many single seniors insist that our age group is not at risk for STDs, including HIV/AIDS. Hold onto your hats when you read this:

  • Although the highest number of new HIV cases is in people in their thirties and forties, there are now more patients being diagnosed in their fifties than in their twenties!

ABC's Nightline presented these statistics on a program about senior sex/love/dating on December 1, 2006, and I had the pleasure of appearing on the show talking about sex, love, and older bodies.

Read my blog post about this show here: http://betterthanieverexpected.blogspot.com/2006/12/more-on-abc-nightline-show.html

Copyright © 2007 Joan Price

Ageless sexuality advocate Joan Price is the author of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty (Seal Press, 2006, http://www.joanprice.com/BetterThanExpected.htm ). Her "Better Than I Ever Expected" blog at http://www.betterthanieverexpected.blogspot.com is creating a community of people talking about sex and aging.

  • Read Joan’s earlier Suddenly Senior columns:

Straight Talk about Sex and Relationships after 50 http://www.suddenlysenior.com/joanprice012007.html

Sex and Older Bodies: Tips, Tools, and Tricks that Work!

You can write Joan at joan@joanprice.com.