Naked at Our Age

Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex


By Joan Price

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An inviting and informative guide to sex for seniors, with a clear message that "as far as sex in the senior years goes . . . the best is yet to come" (Dr. Dean Edell)

Joan Price is talking out loud about a subject that is often ignored or ridiculed in our society: later-life sexuality.

In Naked at Our Age, she offers a candid, straight-talking exploration of senior sexuality — the challenges, the disappointments, and the surprises, as well as the delights of love and passion. She shares the stories of women and men — coupled and single, straight and gay — demonstrating how their sex lives and relationships have changed with age, and how their sex lives influence their lives and self-esteem. Along the way, she offers wise advice from sex therapists, health professionals, counselors, sex educators, and other knowledgeable experts, helping seniors to embrace intimacy in all its forms.

Entertaining and indispensable, Naked at Our Age is a complete guide to enjoying senior sex, love, passion, and couplehood.


Naked at Our Age is dedicated to the memory of my beloved husband, Robert Rice. Although Robert died before this book could be written, it is as much his as mine. "You honor me when you do your work," I hear his voice tell me. So, Robert, this book is for you, in your honor, with memories of our great love.

by Betty Dodson, PhD
JOAN PRICE HAS written an informative book about a much maligned group, sexual seniors. Many believe that sex for old people is nonexistent, disgusting, or downright laughable. But all you folks can wipe those grins of embarrassment off your face and accept this as a fact: American seniors are living well into their eighties today and many of us are still self-sufficient and very much interested in sustaining sexual activity. It's time for everyone to accept that, if they're lucky, they too will be old someday. And if they make it, most will want to have some form of sexual expression.
Throughout my life, most of my thoughts, conversations, drawings, articles, and books have centered on sexual themes. In spite of the advantages that come with years of focusing on the erotic realm, remaining a sexually active senior has required a concerted effort. Aging with style has taken a lot of courage, along with a robust sense of humor. I no longer care what people will think, and I don't worry about making a fool of myself. Instead, I continue to live my life out loud and sex-proud at every age.
Masturbation is the foundation for all of human sexuality. It is our first natural sexual activity; it's the way we learn to like our genitals and it's how we discover sexual pleasure. Once masturbation enters the lexicon of human sexuality and is properly honored, we will move into a new phase of social harmony within ourselves, our relationships, our families, and the global community.
AS OUR BODIES change, so does our ability to have sex with a partner. You'll find a detailed discussion about this in Joan's book. Even sex with ourselves changes, but it rarely goes away if a person has enjoyed a relatively active sex life of some kind. For those of us who have spent a large part of our adult lives enjoying different aspects of sex, we will manage to find ways to continue to do so.
In the early 1980s, when I turned fifty, I went into menopause. Margaret Mead described older women as having a "post-menopausal zest" with a renewed energy and strength to devote to a commitment in their chosen field or creative project. Instead of fearing this change and seeing it as the end of my fertile years, which meant I'd be less desirable in the sexual realm, I saw menopause as a new beginning.
As I approached sixty, I felt a need to challenge the aging process more assertively. My hip joints were getting stiff and painful, and I was faced with a physical challenge. Some days I was nearly crippled. When my hip pain had progressed to the place that I couldn't comfortably open my legs to make room for a partner to penetrate me, I opted for bilateral hip replacement surgery at the age of sixty-seven. A year later I was a born-again hedonist.
One of the most important things I learned about senior partner sex is taking turns. This allows each person to fully focus on building up sexual arousal to orgasm. For me to have an orgasm, I must put my total attention on my own body and sensations. This is seldom discussed because we continue to act as though partner sex is something that comes naturally instead of being a complicated art form that requires skill and practice. Today, partner-assisted masturbation is one of my favorite forms of sharing orgasms. Or I'll use a vibrator on my clitoris during intercourse. Vaginal penetration is often his end pleasure, but for me it's just a beginning.
FOR THE RECORD, most young and older men have no complaints when a woman states her sexual preferences. If anything, they are relieved when she is clear about what she wants. After all, sex is adult play, and it's no fun if we inhibit our pleasure by pretending what works for a partner works for us too.
The decade of my seventies, which I see as the youth of old age, was far more delightful than I could have imagined. It was some of my best partner sex ever—with a man who was in his twenties! I wrote about this ten-year affair in Orgasms for Two: The Joy of Partnersex.
Now, as a single woman again at the age of eighty-one, I'm very aware of my aging body with brown spots cropping up all over, my round belly pulling on my lower back creating pain, and all that wrinkled skin. That's when I remember to count my blessings. I can still walk, talk, laugh, sing, dance, write, and have an orgasm any time I desire with one of my many vibrators and a fantasy. I love my website with Carlin Ross,, where I answer sex questions for people from around the world. My background as an artist and PhD sexologist dovetails nicely with Carlin, who was formerly a lawyer and a brilliant cyber geek.
While we can all agree with Bette Davis, who said, "Old Age ain't for sissies," no one tells us the good news about growing older, like the freedom that comes with knowledge, no longer caring what people think, and enjoying the fruits of our labors. I see aging as the final challenge. Instead of a Grim Reaper who waits in the shadows to whisk us off to some dark scary unknown place, I prefer to see death as my final work of art, the ultimate orgasm being when the life force leaves my body. Until then, I'll continue to figure out ways to enjoy my older body. As long as I can access my mind for sexual memories and fantasies while I hold a vibrator on my clitoris for one more orgasm, I'm here for the long haul as I head for one hundred or more.
Let Joan's book inspire you to enjoy your sex life to the end.

I STARTED WRITING ABOUT Senior sex after falling in love, at age fifty-seven, with the love of my life, artist Robert Rice (yes, his last name differed from mine by one letter), who was then sixtyfour. We gloried in our close connection, our spicy and exhilarating sexuality.
Our sexy love story propelled me to write a candid book celebrating senior sex: Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty, published by Seal Press in 2006. I was on a mission: It was time for our generation to talk out loud about senior sexuality and prove that wrinkles and decades of birthdays are no deterrent to hot sex.
I spoke at bookstores, women-friendly sexuality shops, senior expos, even a naturist resort where many in my audience sat nude (I stayed dressed). As I traveled and met new people, two common themes kept coming up. Women and men started saying to me, "Well, bully for you for having such great sex, but I'm not, and here's why . . ." And men in the audience told me, "Better Than I Ever Expected is for women. What about us? Where's the book addressing our concerns?"
I realized that I had to write a new book about senior sex, this time addressing both women and men, and this time dealing with their problems head-on. I solicited interviews from boomers, seniors, and elders who had sexual concerns related to aging. I rewrote the questionnaire I had used for Better Than I Ever Expected, concentrating on the problems more than the delights. I emailed this questionnaire to readers who had contacted me already, and solicited more interviews on my blog, other blogs read by the age fifty-plus community, and at my talks and workshops. In the questionnaire, I asked interviewees to answer in detail any question that applied to them and ignore the rest, or to just tell their story in their own way. I promised confidentiality—they would choose a "code name" (a first name of their choice) and no one but me would know their true identities.
Questionnaires poured in from both women and men, sharing intimate details that sometimes even their partners didn't know. People really wanted to share their stories and ask questions. They needed help and information.
As I read the questionnaires, I started making a list of the topics that kept coming up and which interviews related to which topics. Then I pulled excerpts from each questionnaire and turned them into the reader's "story," keeping the interviewee's personal style and wording.
I didn't personally know the answer to every question, but I knew where to find it. I contacted experts in the field, asking them to respond to the issues that kept coming up. Some of these experts were specialized—dealing with sexuality and cancer, erectile dysfunction, or vaginal pain, for example. Others were counselors or sex therapists who dealt with a range of issues. I matched the experts with particular stories, and their responses became the information and advice in each chapter.
And a new book was born. Each chapter addresses a particular, age-related sexual concern, and includes both stories from the questionnaires and expert tips.
I WAS WORKING on this book when Robert—whose leukemia and lymphoma were in remission after chemotherapy—was diagnosed with a new cancer: multiple myeloma. This cancer affects the bone marrow's ability to produce healthy blood. I put the book on hold and concentrated on loving Robert, exploring medical options, keeping him close, and treasuring the moments we had left.
Robert experienced extreme fatigue. His fragile bones broke, and as treatments failed, he aged and weakened before my eyes. But almost to the end, he and I kept talking about this book: what would be in it, and why it was important to write it, no matter what happened in our personal lives. He said earnestly many times, "Promise me you'll keep doing your work."
Robert died in August 2008. I catapulted into extreme grief and depression. I kept collecting interviews but basically put the book on hold for more than a year. I couldn't concentrate enough to work, though my promise to Robert stayed in my mind.
Sometimes I heard Robert's voice guiding me, comforting me. One day he seemed to say gently, "I don't want to be the reason you're not living your life." I decided that I needed to get back to work on this book.
I am happy and proud to share it with you here.
Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud About Senior Sex is a candid, straight-talking book addressing senior sexuality in all its colors: the challenges, the disappointments, and the surprises, as well as the delights and the love stories. Naked at Our Age gives real-life people, age fifty to ninety, a voice to tell stories of their past and present sex lives, ask questions, and get straightforward advice and information. No topic related to elder sexuality is off-limits.
Women and men, coupled and single, straight and gay, talk candidly here about how their sex lives and relationships have changed with age, and about how they see themselves, their partners, or their single life. Many of the people featured in this book are having unsatisfying sex, or no sex, and are seeking solutions—help that sex therapists, health professionals, counselors, and other experts featured in this book have so generously provided. To learn more about the people giving advice in the book, turn to the Meet Our Experts section, in the back.
Naked at Our Age addresses the myriad changes in body and mind that affect sexuality. The stories people sent me reveal that what affects our sexuality isn't one single medical issue, hormonal concern, or marital conflict. Many physical and psychological dimensions create the ups and downs in our sexual response and satisfaction. The older we get, the more one change shapes another. A bad back, or prostate cancer, or a late-life divorce, for example, influences our mood, self-image, communication with a partner, and body experience, as well as sexual response. Naked at Our Age is not just a book on sexuality—it's a book about life force, about rebounding from life's challenges to keep on loving.
I love to hear from readers. I hope you'll email me (joan@joan and read my sex and aging blog,, where we're keeping the conversation going.

The Old Ways Don't Do It Anymore!
WE SPEND OUR twenties and thirties grounding ourselves, sexually. Then that ground starts to shift in our forties and fifties, and, for many of us, a major landslide begins in our sixties and seventies. Our bodies, sexual responses, and relationships begin changing and don't always work the way they used to.
But with self-knowledge, creativity, good communication, and a sense of humor, we can roll with the changes and make the earth move again. Sex might not feel or look the way it did when our hormone rush propelled us into jet-stream sex, but it can be highly arousing and satisfying.
This chapter offers tips for general age-related sex and relationship problems. The chapters that follow address specific problems in detail.

Working with What Works . . . and Talking about It

A woman wrote me, "Having my breasts touched used to arouse me, but now I hate it." She described how her husband "mauled" her breasts, and how she turned off completely. Shortly after that, a man emailed me, writing, "My wife always liked having her breasts touched, but now, no matter how much I do it, she doesn't seem turned on."
I don't know for sure that these two were husband and wife, but it fits. She couldn't tell him that she didn't want her breasts touched now, and he thought he just wasn't doing it enough. The moral of the story: Talk to each other!
Many times, communication breaks down when the old ways don't work anymore. We don't want to hurt or offend a partner who's trying so hard to give us pleasure, so we might not start a conversation about what we need now. But we need to communicate to our partner how we're experiencing sensation differently. When we don't, our partner is likely to keep doing the same thing, not knowing it doesn't work anymore.
But sometimes we don't even know what works for us anymore, and we have to figure out all over again what arouses and satisfies us. Sensations change, and we may be more or less sensitive in the parts we always counted on to arouse us. We may need more foreplay. We may be more aroused by oral play than intercourse. We may need the addition of sex toys to reach orgasm. The best way to figure out what works is to experiment with pleasuring ourselves solo. (See Chapter 8.)
As long as we can communicate intimately and honestly with our partner about what turns us on and what turns us off, we can navigate the many changes and issues we may be dealing with. Here's how some of us have resolved this:
At my age, my agility and stamina challenge me in a sexual situation. I inform my partner, "Gee, I just can't do that," and we laugh and try something else. It's okay, there are lots of ways to achieve the same pleasurable result. It's not necessary for me to raise my legs up over my ears! I love to be fingered by my lover. Many men regard digital manipulation as either unnecessary or just something they do quickly to get things moist enough to shove their dick in. So when I find a lover who will spend time pleasuring me with his fingers, I feel very lucky.
My husband starts setting up between one and six hours before we will get intimate. He knows that I take a long time to get aroused, so he will rent a porn DVD or find a porn website for me to watch. When I watch porn on the computer, he gets under the table and performs oral sex on me. I have experienced up to three orgasms in a matter of minutes this way.
I get turned on the most by arousing my wife and giving her sexual pleasure. I love it when I'm able to help her achieve a satisfying orgasm. She doesn't climax very easily, so when it does happen, it's a welcome event for both of us. Sometimes when she climaxes, her contractions continue on and on until she has to stop the stimulation because it's just too much for her. Once she recovers, she opens herself up for me and begs me to "bump" her, as she puts it. Of course I comply willingly and allow my body's instincts to take over, knowing that my own pent-up climax that I've been deliberately holding back is not far away.
Changing Tastes
Sexuality is fluid, and yours may be changing. What kind of sex you like best, how long it takes to get turned on, how long you like it to last, what you fantasize, the qualities of your preferred partner(s), including gender—everything that makes a difference to your erotic experience is individual and subject to change.
It might take longer to come to orgasm, the vagina may not lubricate as much, and certain positions can be unkind to your hips or knees. But other things may cause a shift in your own self-image or identity—like whether you desire women or men or both, or whether you want to initiate versus waiting to be approached by your partner, or if you decide it's time to try things you've never tried before. If the old, reliable sexual elements feel less interesting now, it may simply mean you have new interests ready to take their places—or would, if you open your mind to them.
Major sexual changes can be caused by the onset of serious illness and are a reason to get a checkup. Doctors can evaluate you for diabetes, depression, neurological problems, heart and other circulatory issues, and other conditions that might affect your sex drive and enjoyment. I encourage you to mention your sexual issues to your doctor, though many doctors will not have the knowledge and resources to deal specifically with sexual concerns. For sexual issues related to knowledge and behaviors, not physical health, a clinical sexologist or a sex therapist will be best able to help.
My enjoyment of sex is variable and problematic these days. The big problem is physical unreliability. In my young days, sex was rarely anything but great in terms of my physical functioning. Nowadays, sex is occasionally as good as ever, but it is often rather lackluster. I rarely have trouble getting an erection, but sometimes it deflates a bit just before climax. Other times the orgasm is drab, even if I maintain my erection.
My partner has a lot of trouble achieving orgasm. I am not sure that I have ever given her one. She says that it requires breast and clitoral stimulation simultaneously. She clearly enjoys our sex without having orgasms, and since she says she is satisfied with it, I do not see any big problem. I mean that I don't feel any requirement to go all out to try to bring her to orgasm, but I would very much like to do it occasionally. Once in a long while I try, but she usually stops me after a short time. I would like to understand this part of her sexuality better.
I grew up with one belief that I know was naive—that sex should come naturally; that men in particular should not have to learn anything about sex. While being sexual does come naturally at a basic level, there is a huge amount of practical education that one can learn only in bed, and different women like very different things. I have been able to deeply satisfy a few women, but a few others have found me lacking. I think I could still learn a lot about sex.
An Expert Responds
Gordon, you say that your lover has difficulty experiencing orgasm, and that you don't feel it's your responsibility to "go all out to bring her to orgasm." You're right . . . to a point. No one "gives" anyone an orgasm. Orgasms are like laughter. They emerge from within us when conditions are right. Comedians can be funny, but they don't "make" us laugh. They simply provide the context for us to allow laughter to emerge from deep within us. Orgasms are similar. It's not your responsibility to bring her to orgasm. It is your responsibility to create the context that allows her to feel sufficiently relaxed, comfortable, and loved to let one out.
It's possible that she doesn't care if she comes or not. But if she wants orgasms, your stated indifference to her coming may be interfering with her ability to get there. Give her what she enjoys. She likes simultaneous breast and clitoral stimulation. It's no sacrifice on your part to fondle or suckle her nipple while gently caressing her clitoris, and to provide oral sex while your hands gently caress her breasts.
If extended breast-and-clitoral stimulation doesn't do it for her, incorporate a vibrator into your lovemaking. After you caress her breasts and clitoris for a long, relaxed time, hold her in a loving embrace while she uses a vibrator to have an orgasm. You might study how she uses the vibe, and then, with her coaching, use it on her yourself.
You mention that your own pleasure is flagging; that it's less reliable. For "drab" orgasms, I suggest you try Kegel exercises, which tone the pelvic floor muscles that contract during orgasm. I bet that if you practice Kegels a few times a day for three months, you'll notice more pleasure in orgasm.
For erection deflation in the middle of things, avoid getting upset about it. Stress and anxiety constrict the arteries, including the ones that carry blood into the penis. If you get upset about a wilting erection, it's likely to wilt even more. Instead, breathe deeply, ask for the kind of penile stroking or sucking that turns you on, and focus on a hot, juicy erotic fantasy. Taking these steps won't necessarily produce the fireworks you recall from your twenties, but they'll make sex noticeably more pleasurable for you.

Aches, Pains, Positions, and Props

Chances are, our bodies just don't do what they used to. But if we get creative, this doesn't have to be a major problem. Many people wrote me about ways to avoid aches and pains during sex. Here's what some of them had to say.
I have arthritic knees and hands, so I can't take an upper position easily, and it can be a challenge to keep up manual stimulation of my partner if the arthritis is kicking in. He has his own aches and pains, so a sense of humor is our most valuable asset. Finding positions that will allow us to both be comfortable can be tricky, but we found a scissors position on our sides that works. Oral sex is facilitated with the use of a pillow under my hips, or he kneels on a pillow at the bedside. The 69 position is more difficult, so we take turns. I can hold myself on my side with my arm or elbow for some time, with him on his back for me to reciprocate.
There is little information available about sex following a total hip replacement. My doctor blushed and cringed when I mentioned the subject. After the operation, I observed eight weeks of prescribed abstinence. The missionary position is an ideal starter position for safe postoperative sex, as long as the leg isn't drawn up too far. As time goes on, unless you're into extreme acrobatics, almost any position is fine. A day will come when you no longer even think about your hip.
How do we have sex comfortably with our aging bodies—with arthritis, stiffness, and circulation problems? Are there any chairs, or other furniture, that will enhance our ability to have sex more easily? Someone needs to design something so the partners can be more comfortable when performing these acts.
Joan Responds
Actually, Chloe, "sex furniture" has been designed already for our comfort. Robert and I used the Liberator Wedge—a perfectly shaped, firm, triangular pillow designed for sex (though it also made a good back support for reading in bed, we discovered). At some of my workshops, I set aside embarrassment to demonstrate how I could lie on my back, with my hips elevated by the Wedge. This was not only good for my back, but also for Robert's, because he didn't have to curve over. Liberator makes other pillow forms that suit whatever position you might enjoy, with support where you need it. The wedge is available from many of the sex shops I recommend at
We need more than jar openers, reading glasses, and nonslip rugs at our age. The more we talk out loud about senior sex, the more likely inventive folks will see an opportunity to provide what we need!

A Healthy Older Woman Is a Sexy Older Woman

Older people—especially healthy ones, and especially men—are enjoying sex, according to a study published in the British Medical Journal in March 2010.1 When the study came out, the media were all over it, sometimes with shudders and distaste (Wrinkly people enjoying sex? Eeewww); sometimes with a health message (Eating right and exercising leads to good sex, even when you're old.); and sometimes with an emphasis on the disparity between genders (Old men like it; old women don't . . . huh!).
After the study came out, sex educator Ellen Barnard wrote me in frustration about the focus on the gender disparity in this study, especially because no one was looking into the reasons why older women aren't enjoying sex more and what they can do about it. Here's what she had to say.
An Expert Responds
According to this study in the British Medical Journal, older women stop having and enjoying sex sooner in their lives than men do. That's because the medical community has no idea how to help women maintain their sexual health and pleasure after menopause without the use of potentially dangerous hormones. The truth is, there are simple answers.


  • "Hang on, because Naked at Our Age breaks all the barriers and goes where ordinary books on this subject dare not. Some readers may be shocked . . . and others delighted by this bold . . . and uncensored approach. The message is clear: As far as sex in the senior years goes . . . the best is yet to come.
    --Dr. Dean Edell, M.D., Emmy-award-winning host of the Dr. Dean Edell Program and author of the best-selling book Eat, Drink and Be Merry
  • "Told through the voices of real people interspersed with great advice from smart professionals, Naked at Our Age is an important resource for anyone who wants to keep pleasure and sensuality in their lives . . ."
    --Candida Royalle, pioneer of woman-friendly erotica and author of How to Tell a Naked Man What to Do
  • "[W]ith irresistible enthusiasm, Joan Price tackles outdated expectations and promotes ... new ways to celebrate sexuality throughout the later years.
    --Peggy Brick, president of the Sexuality and Aging Consortium at Widener University and co-author of Older, Wiser, Sexually Smarter: 30 Sex Ed Lessons for Adults Only
  • "[T]he impact of the book is as much inspirational as it is educational."
    --Pepper Schwartz, PhD, author of Prime: Adventures and Advice on Sex, Love, and the Sensual Years

On Sale
May 24, 2011
Page Count
352 pages
Seal Press

Joan Price

About the Author

Author and speaker Joan Price calls herself an “advocate for ageless sexuality.” She has been called other things by the media: “senior sexpert, “the beautiful face of senior sex,” and — her favorite — “wrinkly sex kitten.” At age sixty-one, Price wrote Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty (Seal Press, 2006) to celebrate the delights of older-life sexuality — especially her spicy love affair with artist Robert Rice, who became her husband. Later, after questions and comments from hundreds of readers about their own senior sex lives, she is following up with Naked at Our Age.

Formerly a high school English teacher, Price is also a fitness professional who believes that exercise should be a treat, not a treatment. She has written several books about health and fitness, including The Anytime, Anywhere Exercise Book: 300+ Quick and Easy Exercises You Can Do Whenever You Want. Price teaches popular contemporary line dancing classes (which she calls “the most fun you can have with both feet on the floor”) in Sebastopol and Santa Rosa, California.

Learn more about this author