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A Senior’s Guide to Solo Sex

Masturbation is a hard-sounding word for an activity that’s immensely pleasurable and self-loving. It’s sex with the person who knows you the best: yourself. Self-pleasuring is delicious sex, and it doesn’t matter how old we are, whether or not we have a partner, if arousal and orgasms are easy for us or we’ve grown up to think of masturbation as shameful—even sinful (more on that later). Staying sexual is within our own power.

Here are some reasons that we, as seniors, might want to enjoy solo sex:

5 Reasons to Self-Pleasure

  1. You don’t have a partner. Many of us have no sexual partner at this time in our lives. Too often, I hear this from older women: “When I meet someone, I’ll think about sex again. Until then, it doesn’t matter.” It does matter. If we put sex on hold for months, years, decades, it will be much more difficult to enjoy sex if a partner does show up later on. It’s up to us to stay healthy and sexually vibrant with regular arousal and orgasms. Even if you don’t care about being partnered again, sex with yourself is important for health and wellbeing.
  2. You have a partner, but little or no sexual interaction. Many of us can’t have full sexual expression with our partners due to medical or relationship issues. Perhaps one partner has lost interest or is no longer able to engage sexually, so the other gives up on sex. Or you and your partner are no longer sexually attracted to each other, but for other reasons, you want to stay together.
  3. What used to bring you to orgasm doesn’t do it anymore. Our responses change as we age, and what aroused us in the past may not be what works for us now. The best way to figure out what does work for us now is to experiment on our own. What kind of touch do you like? Where, exactly? What pace? What intensity? The most direct way to stay in tune with what you need for sexual pleasure is to experiment with your own hands— and, of course, sex toys. Once you find the path to pleasure on your own, you can teach it to your partner if you have one. And if you don’t, that doesn’t have to mean a lack of orgasms!
  4. You have a partner and are having sex, but you rarely have an orgasm. We may need more warmup/ foreplay/ sex play than our partners give us, or stronger intensity or a particular kind of stroking. Of course, communication is key: Let your partner know exactly what you need. (Mind-reading is vastly overrated.) In addition, getting yourself ready on your own before or during partner sex makes everything work better.
  5. It just feels good! Our reason to masturbate doesn’t have to be because something else isn’t going well. It can be because we like it, we know how to please ourselves and we’re good at giving ourselves orgasms. It can be as simple as that.

Orgasms are Good for You—No Partner Required

A whole body of research shows that sex—with a partner and solo—enhances health. Here are just a few of the benefits of sexual activity and orgasm. (For more, see my book, “The Ultimate Guide to Sex after Fifty: How to Maintain— or Regain!— a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life):

  • Reduces stress
  • Enhances mood
  • Strengthens the immune system
  • Helps fight infection and disease
  • Lowers diastolic blood pressure
  • Keeps sex organs healthy
  • Improves blood flow
  • Helps with sleep
  • Relieves headaches and other body aches
  • Relieves depression
  • Reduces risk of heart disease
  • May reduce risk of prostate cancer
  • Relieves chronic pain
  • Increases blood flow to the brain, increasing mental acuity
  • Makes your skin glow
  • Relaxes you
  • Makes you happier
  • Feels really good

Reasons not to self-pleasure? Hmm… Can’t think of any.

Why Are We Reluctant or Embarrassed to Self-Pleasure?

If masturbation is good for our physical, emotional and relationship health, why is it so hard for us to talk about or even think about it? We were brought up during a sex-negative era, meaning that we were taught that sex and sexual desire were shameful, sexual pleasure was never discussed and our sex education was mainly “don’t do it.”

That applied to masturbation, too, although you’d think a culture that wanted us to delay partner sex would encourage this safe and private outlet. But no, we were taught that our genitals are dirty and we shouldn’t touch them, except for hygienic needs.

We’ve thrown off many restrictive teachings from our early youth, but for many of us, this one is especially tenacious.
“Probably no other common activity carries such a burden of shame and guilt as masturbation,” says Dr. David Pittle, a sex and relationship therapist based in San Rafael, California. “Most of us over 60 grew up with a pile of bad teaching about masturbation: ‘It will make you go blind’; ‘It is prohibited by our religion’; ‘Nice girls don’t.’ Our parents, pastors, priests and imams were wrong. Not only is masturbation not sinful, it is a very healthy and contributes to our physical and mental well-being. If you are not masturbating, then you would well begin. Spell the word as ‘Loving yourself.’”

What To Do If You’re Not Inspired

Our retreating hormones and decreased blood flow make it easy to forget about sex, because there’s less urgency. Yet the less we experience arousal and orgasm, the more difficult it is to get there when we want to. If it’s already difficult for you to arouse yourself to orgasm, that’s a good reason to masturbate more rather than less. Sexual arousal and orgasm bring blood flow to the genitals and help to tone our pelvic floor muscles. The more we do it, the easier it becomes. Give yourself at least one or two orgasms a week and you’ll feel the difference. You’ll find that the physical arousal will happen that will trigger your emotional arousal, which triggers more physical arousal, until it’s all working just right.

For those of you who insist that masturbation is inferior to sex with a loving partner, my response is that there’s nothing inferior about sex with the person who knows you best.

How to Make Solo Sex Work for You 

From planning to sex toys, take these steps to give yourself the best chance for an orgasmic experience.

  1. Make a date with yourself. Don’t leave self-pleasuring to chance. Our arousal capability ebbs and flows, so schedule your dates with yourself during the time of day when you feel most sexually charged. Not sure when that is? Orgasms are easier before a meal, not afterward, and not when you’re tired. You might get aroused most easily in the early morning after your first cup of coffee, or just before lunch, or after a quick afternoon nap. Experiment to find out what your special time is. Set aside enough private time to enjoy the experience without rushing.
  2. Exercise first. Be physical in your daily life. Exercise increases blood flow. This translates to sexual arousal, because the blood flows to your genitals as well as to your muscles, making arousal easier and faster. For surprisingly effective results, exercise right before your solo sex time.
  3. Prepare. Have everything ready that you might want: lubricant, a small towel, massage oil, pillows for hip, back and neck comfort. Leave your phone and computer in another room, gather your favorite sex toys and settle in for pleasure. You don’t have a favorite sex toy? See my “Senior’s Guide To Vibrators” on Senior Planet and read my sex toy reviews at Naked At Our Age.
  4. Set the mood. Read erotica if you enjoy it (try Ageless Erotica, by and for our age group!), play music, write sexy thoughts in your journal, take a bath, massage your body slowly—whatever turns you on. You might like candlelight, lingerie…Let your imagination run wild.
  5. Choose your lube. A lubricant that keeps you moist and slick will increase comfort and intensify your pleasure. Keep the lube within reach so you can reapply frequently. See my “Senior’s Guide to Lubrication” on Senior Planet.
  6. Explore your body slowly. Sometimes racing to an orgasm is fun, but at other times, take time to slow down and explore all your erogenous zones and the kind of sensual stimulation you like. Maybe you like your breasts or thighs stroked, or maybe there’s a special place on your neck or the inside of your wrist that makes you shiver when touched just right. You may discover that the kind of touch that turns you on and/or the places you like to be touched are different now than they used to be, so don’t rely on past history.
  7. Fantasize. Let your fingers and sex toys help you imagine an intimate date with… who comes to mind? Let yourself explore fantasy scenes and partners. Your brain is your main sex organ, so invite your fantasy to your private party. No fantasy is “wrong,” and no one has to know what images or scenarios turn you on.
  8. Use sex toys and other erotic helpers. Our hormonally challenged bodies may need extra help to reach orgasm these days, and our wrists may tire before we reach our goal. That’s where your vibrator comes in. Use it on a low speed to get you aroused, then turn up the intensity to take you to orgasm. Or you might experiment with switching between toys to surprise yourself.
  9. If you think you’re not in the mood, do it anyway. It’s too easy to put solo sex on the back burner, and once you’re out of the habit, it’s harder to get revved up again. This is especially true at our age, when our hormones are no longer screaming for release. So reread steps 1 through 8 and just do it.

Solo sex is a lovely gift you can give yourself. Instead of seeing it as a poor substitute for partner sex, see it as a celebration that your body is still capable of such delights. Give yourself this gift often, whenever you want. I wish you joy!

25 comments
  • Daniel
    REPLY

    Thank you all so much for all your input. I’m 73 still sometimes feel the guilt . I lost my Loving wife of 50 years . First time masterbateing after losing her I felt horrible like I just cheated on her . Well I have a good sound mind I’m getting over this guilt. I feel much relief after doing it . It gets my day jump started . I’m on my way to a healthier life . Thank you all.

  • Mark
    REPLY

    Mirror Mirror! they should’ve mention the mirror, its a great way to explore and get a first hand glimpse of your penile exercise results, they do work!

  • Dan J
    REPLY

    I am a 67 year old diabetic, and have had problems with erections for the last two years. I am exploring the possibilities of penile shots that create erections, but in the meantime give myself regular orgasms daily with an electric vibrator that is about 300 horsepower. My fear is if this thing ever quits, where will I find another one. I do miss the touch of another person, and think about trying friends with benefits sites. Not sure if anybody would be interested in an old guy like me.

  • Vic
    REPLY

    I am 68, been a masturbator without guilt and with much pleasure since I was 11 and discovered it privately when in the rush of emotions and hormones of puberty. The first time was ecstasy indescribable. And although I went through a time of exploration with other teen guys, (mutual masturbation), I decided I didn’t want that lifestyle, married, have been married for 40 years. Although we had a good sex-life, my wife has lost interest (meds and discomfort), and gradually, after continuing to try to initiate, I gave up and rely on my old friend, JO, as I refer to it in text. I play about every day, although I only cum about maybe twice a week. I do enjoy the assistance of the internet :) and find masturbation perfectly normal and although not as urgent to rush to orgasm as in my teens, much more time consuming as I fondle and explore. Although my wife has known for years that I JO, I’m pretty sure she doesn’t, never did and isn’t interested for herself. So, although she knows, I keep it a private thing and since she sleeps in in the morning, morning is my time, with coffee and internet.

    • Steve
      REPLY

      I feel the same way. Cheated and wanting sex with her but she just has no desire anymore. Very frustrating. I dont want to hurt her by having an affair and dont want to leave her because she and i fo love each other. She just has no desire for sex and for some reason just expects me to go without as well. I cant do that and have secretly had discreet sexual encounters with two women from my past but feel guilty afterwards so my options are kind of limited. I masturbate alot preferably with her watching but thst doesnt even get her in the mood. Temporarily satisfying but still very frustrating. I want a women who wants and enjoys sex as much as i do and i feel cheated after all these years that im growing old without that.

      • Ron
        REPLY

        My wife is the same way, ZERO interest in sex since menopause. I resort to masturbating like you, I like to play daily in the morning, finishing a couple of times a week.

        My wife also knows and I don’t have to hide it anymore. She said she knew I did for years and has been very accepting of it.
        I may be older but still enjoy sexual pleasure.

  • Trish
    REPLY

    Hi! My therapist suggested that I learn more about personal organisms & thus us my 1st stop. Thank you for this info. I’m a 74 yr “young” divorcee. I’ve been divorced since ’24…but he no longer wanted intimacy as far back as ’11. We were married for 24 years when he asked for a divorce over the phone. AND he’s 13 yrs my junior (yep! I’m a Cougar:-)…& that was NEVER a problem. I grew up in many foster homes & I was sexually abused &/or raped in most if them. From the age of 4, I BELIEVED that if a man wanted to have sex w/me it was quite a compliment! And visa versa. I had been/ was quite promiscuous. I was 40, the mother of two boys & long divorced from my starter husband when I heard about a clitoris. I bought the book, Our Bodies, Our selves. Then a mirror & found it! BUT I’ve ALWAYS been afraid of losing control. Even today, when I try to masturbate, I stop my self before I have an orgasm. I did have one, years ago that made me appreciate what my friends talked about. I was beautifully stoned, the ONLY time I EVER felt that free & I was alone & DAMN! I want THAT again but I simply cannot let myself! After reading the article & replies…I’m going to try to get there again. I want to. I would like to meet a man that I could trust enough to let myself “go”…I’m thinking I have to learn to be able to experience that w/another. Wish me luck, everyone & thank you for sharing.

  • Lyn
    REPLY

    I masterbate and enjoy each and every climax. My husband has ED and just simply stopped sex with no talk or even trying. I find my marriage has taken a strange turn! We hold hands and act like we are a couple but a piece of the puzzle has been missing for a long time. I feel compelled to stay like this after so long of being together but there are many times when I want to just “break free”. I guess I want him to see this and even after several considerate talks the situation remains the same. I think he is a wonderful man but not a wonderful husband. Am I being awful?
    After all these years of us having a family and moving to where he wanted to live I cannot help but feel cheated. Any help or advice would be appreciated. Thanks for listening to my rant! We

  • Genevieve
    REPLY

    I’ve in my late 60s and been giving myself wonderful organisms in the shower for the past couple of years, using the hand-held shower head on high pressure…well, not too high…

    It’s fantastic, and makes me feel great all day after my morning shower and play. I feel so grateful to my body for giving me such intense pleasure. It’s a beautiful gift.

    • Richard
      REPLY

      I am getting old so my erection isn’t what it was so I can’t satisfy her with that as in your partners case. But my partner and I have fantastic sexy sessions where I spend hours giving her massages, enjoy her breasts, oral, fingers, toys even hand inside and she has orgasm after orgasm so she feels very happy with me and me with her. She plays with me even though not hard which is also great.

      So my advice for what it is worth is to encourage your man to do all the things he has undoubtedly seen on porn – except penetration which he cannot. You will both enjoy yourself!!

  • Mark Smith
    REPLY

    Mark

    I am 80 and still masturbate about 2 times a week.
    Happily married for many years.
    I shaved it all clean and it makes for a better orgasm

  • John B.
    REPLY

    Just turned 80 and still need to masturbate about once aweek, used to be 3 times a day at 16.

    Been solo sexual for 25 years and still cannot do without the release, it keeps me sane and probably out of jail. Three cheers for Viagra, detachable showerhead, and the internet!

  • Paul
    REPLY

    Thanks for sharing, it helps to know you are not alone in solo sex. I am 75 and struggling with ED. Thankful the web has helped find answers and today my wife and I are talking about our sex lives at breakfast .

  • Kelly
    REPLY

    I am a female who just turned 66 and masturbate twice a day. I am in a relationship for over five years but find masturbation more pleasurable.

  • bill
    REPLY

    Masturbation. Yes i will say it again the dreadful M word Masturbation. Everyone or almost everyone does it or did it. Those that have not are missing the ability to experience one of lifes pleasures. Whether in a relationship or alone masturbation will provide you that sexual release for the moment. It has been taboo for many years for women to admit that they masturbate but during a recent paper i wrote for a masters class just as many women admitted to masturbating and some more often than men.

    Whether you choke our chicken flick your clit or just jerk off, masturbation is a great addition or substitute for that partner.

    Masturbator since 14.

    Bill

    • Ken
      REPLY

      Yes I do. I enjoy communication with men and women who are open and honest about the ability of the human body to produce endorphins and oxytocin from touch, interaction, art and nude recreation. Where sun and wind are the only elements between nature and our bodies. Life is about giving and accepting pleasure without guilt.

  • Frank Prescott
    REPLY

    Great article and full of useful info. I am 76 years old and happily married for 54 years. I have masturbated since I was 13 and still do about 1 – 2 times a week. Still with the same vigor and enjoyment. My wife and I both masturbate, sometimes alone and sometimes together, also we masturbate each other. Very enjoyable!. Thank you for the article.

  • BRENDA FLORES
    REPLY

    I WAS SLAPPED AS A CHILD FOR MENTIONING THE WORD SEX. I GREW UP HATING IT. I HAVE 2 CHILDREN BUT NOT FROM ENJOYABLE SEX . I GAVE MYSELF MY FIRST CLIMAX. THANK YOU FOR HELPING ME TO GO SOLO. FOR NOW !

  • Ted
    REPLY

    I am 78 and I enjoy masturbation a few times a week. I would like to enhance the feeling, but it always is a pleasure.

  • Eric Walker
    REPLY

    I am a 53 year old married man who has enjoyed regular masturbation since childhood. My wife and I have had an active sex life and also masurbate together. She knew when we married that I masturbated several times daily. I now masturbate 1-4 times a day. Usually twice (morning and evening) but never miss a day. It is part of my daily routine and enjoy it whether I’m aroused or not. It has kept everything working really well in that area. After about 19,000 lifetime masturbation orgasms and about 2000 additional one’s from sexual intercourse my body is working like it did when in my 20’s except it takes a little longer to orgasm which is a positive for me. I masturbate whenever I want and would recomend it for everyone as long as it doesn’t cause conflicts in other areas of your life. Enjoy

  • Maurice Hodgen
    REPLY

    Brava! and Braov! A splendid and timely affirmation of solo sex, something most of us enjoyed repeatedly much of our lives all the while convinced that something that feels so good cannot be bad no matter who told us otherwise. And the newly experienced pleasures with benefits continue.

  • Bruce
    REPLY

    I’m so glad to read that masturbation is actually “good for you.”
    As they say, “There may be snow on the roof, but there’s still a fire in the furnace” and that the need for sex does not diminish with age.

  • Judy
    REPLY

    I just want to thank you for speaking about masturbation—the “hushed word” that so many of us seniors grew up recognizing as, like you say, dirty, shameful, forbidden!! It is a topic that needs to be spoken of more so that masturbation can be realized as a natural, healthy and important part of our journey here on earth. I wish everyone, seniors or otherwise….love, in all its many and beautiful ways.

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