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Sex Over 50 Can Be Fresh And Exciting

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Sex Over 50 Can Be Fresh And Exciting

Just when you thought sex over 50 was the same old song.

What can the rest of us learn from highly-sexed couples?

At first the humping pandas made it hard to concentrate on what I was doing. But only at first. After awhile it all seemed quite natural.

I’d been invited by NBC Today(link is external) to interview several over-50 couples about midlife sex, and the network had decided to film at the Museum of Sex in Manhattan. By some quirk of fate I’d been seated across from the video panda loop.

Several mid-life couples from across the country had accepted invitations from NBC to talk about how sex had changed after 50, and my colleague Chicago gynecologist Dr. Lauren Streicher (pictured above) and I were spending the morning chatting with them on camera.

Now of course your typical 50+ couple wouldn’t volunteer to discuss their sex life on national TV for their children and grandchildren to see. So the couples that had gathered that day were for the most part a bit more exhibitionistic than the norm.

They seemed more devoted to sexual pleasure as well. Most claimed to be having sex 3 or more times a week. Earlier in the morning, NBC Today host Hoda Kotb(link is external) had stopped by the Museum of Sex to chat with the couples, and had expressed surprise at how eager most of them were to have so much sex.

 “C’mon, isn’t it sort of the same old song sometimes?” she asked. 

Evidently not. From occasional hotel sex to modeling new underwear fashions for each other, these couples all reported keeping it fresh and exciting.

I was reminded of an email conversation I once had with my colleague Dr. Charles Moser from San Francisco. “Think of chocolate,” he said. “Most people like chocolate, and they’ll eat it if it’s offered. But there are some people whose life is devoted to chocolate. They travel the world in search of great chocolates. It’s what they love best.”

Most couples over 50 consider sex to be a couple of notches below good sleep and stable property values in their hierarchy of needs. But there’s always a lot of variety in human life, and there are some couples for whom sex ranks higher than usual.

Research studies have revealed some consistencies about such couples. They do it more regularly, even if they’re not particularly in the mood, and they value it more highly. Obviously there’s a bit of a chicken-and-egg thing there. In the end, we don’t know what makes some people over 50 into sex connoisseurs, any more than why some people become devotees of fine chocolate.

“Did you know?” Dr. Streicher asked me during a break in the filming, “There are only two mammals that live past menopause? Humans are one. What’s the other?” It was clear she wanted me to guess.

“Pandas?”

“No. Whales.”

This information didn’t seem immediately useful. But it did make me reflect on what 25 years of being a sex therapist have taught me about lovemaking in the second half of life:

1. Make sex important, and do it often enough. At least once a week usually for a couple in their fifties. And “simmer”(link is external) together for a minute or two whenever you can. Like prayer, sex becomes more meaningful the more time and attention you devote to it.

2. Be good at it. People tend to want to do what they’re good at. For most people, that means knowing what’s meaningful to you and making sure you get it. Sounds selfish? I know. But that’s what makes for good sex.

3. Have realistic expectations. Sex after 50 isn’t always going to be particularly inspiring. But like regular church attendance, regular lovemaking prepares you for those moments of true inspiration.

Prepare yourself for passion, and it may well come find you when you least expect it.

www.sexualityresource.com(link is external) New York City

[Stephen Snyder]

 

Stephen Snyder, M.D., is a sex and couples therapist, psychiatrist, and writer in New York City. He is currently Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Mount Sinai School of Medicine in New York City. He has lectured nationally on topics related to mental health aspects of sexuality--combining the biomedical perspective of a physician and the psychological perspective of a sex therapist. He has been an active member of the Society for Sex Therapy and Research since 1995. He has been a featured lecturer and discussant at the Society’s national meetings, and has served on both its Professional Book Award and its Consumer Book Award committees. Over 25 years of practice in Manhattan as a psychiatrist, psychotherapist, and sex and couples therapist, he has worked to develop better treatments for sexual problems-- including integrative treatments that combine medical and psychological approaches. His current major areas of interest include: sexuality and the self; diversity of individuals’ sexual natures; current controversies regarding the “medicalization of sexuality”; and sexual psychology in popular culture (be sure to catch his blogs on Twilight, and on Alvin & The Chipmunks). He lives with his wife and children in New York City.

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