Sex & Relationships

Ask Joan: What to do when orgasms are difficult

senior couple

Have a question about senior relationships, sex and intimacy?  Every month Senior Planet’s award-winning senior sexpert Joan Price answers questions about everything from loss of desire to solo sex and partner issues. Subscribe now (do it here) and don’t miss a single column. Senior Planet subscribers also get The Weekly Orbit, our newsletter with features about personal finance, health and fitness, tech tips, celebrity interviews and more. 

  • “I’m 64 and it’s impossible to achieve orgasm with my husband. With my toy, it takes me close to an hour to orgasm. Why?”
  • “I’m a 66-year-old female. I’ve not had partner sex for over 8 years. I have a vibrator for external stimulation which used to bring me to orgasm. However, for the last 8 months, nothing works. I feel frisky, but I just can’t relieve myself. It’s getting uncomfortable. Any ideas?”
  • “I am 68, in great health, at ideal weight, taking no medications. Why can’t I climax after 20 minutes of cunnilingus that includes manual stimulation? I am very excited with my man, who is years younger and an excellent lover.”

Too Difficult to Orgasm?

If you’ve followed my column for a while — it’s been going for more than 8 years! — you know that “difficult orgasms” is a recurring concern. These questions, almost always from women, have a variety of backstories, but the crucial question is always the same:

“Why can’t I have orgasms the way I used to? What can I do to make orgasms easier?”

Normal…or Not?

As with many sexual changes, it’s important to find out whether this problem is a normal sign of aging with self-help solutions, or a medical problem that needs a diagnosis and possible treatment. It’s always a good idea to enlist your doctor who knows your medical history, your medications, your hormonal changes, your other medical challenges.

Penetrative sex is only one of many ways to give and receive pleasure.

It’s a necessity if you’re experiencing one or more of these:

  • Inability to orgasm comes on suddenly. This can be a sign of an underlying medical condition that needs treatment, such as heart disease.
  • You’re on medications that might be contributing to your orgasm problem. Your doctor or pharmacist can advise you and perhaps recommend a change.
  • You and your doctor agree that hormone replacement is advisable for you.

Penetrative sex is only one of many ways to give and receive pleasure. If there’s no medical cause for your elusive orgasm other than the normal changes in your aging body, consider changing the way you’re having sex. Let go of the idea that only penetrative sex is “real” sex and the way to reach orgasm. We know that 75 to 80 percent of women do not reach orgasm through vaginal penetration alone, and I suspect that figure is even higher at our age. We need direct clitoral stimulation, either during or instead of penetrative sex.


Make your sex dates an opportunity to explore your responses through massage, oral sex, manual stimulation, sex toys — whatever makes you quiver with delight. If you do enjoy penetrative sex, add direct clitoral stimulation before, during, or after intercourse, depending on what you like, when you like it, and what it takes to get you to orgasm.


Let’s talk vibrators. Since our sexual responses are usually slower and sometimes seem to go into hiding, manual or even oral clitoral stimulation may not be enough to get you there. Adding a good quality vibrator can be the solution. In two of the opening questions, the women are using vibrators that used to work. Maybe it’s time for a new, stronger, updated vibrator. There are some glorious options — see my blog for 100+ reviews! I predict you’ll be amazed at what happens when you choose a newer, more rumbly, more intense, higher-quality sex toy buddy.

Use your vibrator solo to learn what works for you. Then, incorporate it in your sex play with a partner. Don’t be shy about saying to a partner, “This is how my body works these days. This is what I need to reach orgasm.” Show your partners how well vibrators work on their genitals, too!

Don’t fake pleasure or orgasm when you don’t feel it.


Talk to your partner. Don’t fake pleasure or orgasm when you don’t feel it. Admit to your partner that you have difficulty reaching orgasm, and you’d like to explore new ways to be pleasured. Plan goal-free sensual sessions with your partner to discover how you like to be touched, kissed, stimulated. Let you, your lover, and your vibrator become a threesome during partner sex. Give feedback about what feels good. Redirect your partner if you’d like something different. Honesty and communication are the keys to good sex.

Quick tips to enhance your arousal:

  • Schedule sex for a time you’re feeling high energy, e.g., morning or afternoon instead of nighttime.
  • Exercise before sex to increase blood flow.
  • Plan sex before a meal, not after, so that the blood flow is not going to your digestive system.

If all else fails…

If none of these suggestions work, it’s back to the doctor to find out what is impeding your orgasm. Tell your doctor that your sexual pleasure is important to you, and you want help resolving why you’re not having orgasms. If your doctor is dismissive or insensitive, find a new one who is sex-positive and age-positive. They’re out there, and it’s worth the effort to discover them!


Do you have a question for Joan? 

  • Check case Joan has already addressed your topic.
  • Joan can only answer questions from people age 60 and above.
  • Selected questions will be answered in this public column, not privately. If you want a private answer, you can book Joan for a personal consultation.
  • If your question is under consideration for Joan’s column, she will email you directly and will only select your question if you respond to her email. If you submit your question, please check your spam/junk folder in case your overzealous spam filter captures her email.
  • Ready to submit your question? Email

Joan Price has been Senior Planet’s “Sex at Our Age” columnist since 2014. She is the author of four self-help books about senior sex, including her award winners: “Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex” and “Sex after Grief: Navigating Your Sexuality after Losing Your Beloved.” Visit Joan’s website and blog for senior sex news, views, tips, and sex toy reviews from a senior perspective. Subscribe to Joan’s free, monthly newsletter.


6 responses to “Ask Joan: What to do when orgasms are difficult

  1. I am 76 (female), my partner is 83 (male). His sexual desire is very low, whereas mine is very high. He can achieve an erection (thanks to an ED drug), but it doesn’t last long enough for penetration. He does not achiever orgasm thru any means, and misses that terribly, whereas I can climax very easily. What can we do to satisfy both of us?

  2. At 70, after a total hysterectomy, I’ve found my G spot is sometimes making up for my increasingly unreliable clitoris. My AirVibe provides simultaneous clitoral suction and G spot stimulation. Some days my clit is just plain dead, but when it is working, the combination with the G spot can be quite intense.

  3. Orgasms are wonderful when they happen, but the greater joy is in the intimate togetherness of mutual caressing, kissing, hugging, laughing, and snuggling. Sharing and caring with another person is a “mental orgasm” of the most profound sort.

  4. Even for men achieving orgasm can be difficult. Using ED meds, while helping to maintain erections, a lot of the time desensitizes and blocks climax. This can be a mixed blessing as too often for men, once orgasm is achieved, the “party’s over”. Orgasm is no longer my primary goal. Instead I prefer to savor and extend the multiple sensations. My situation is compounded by being a prostate cancer survivor with a history of impotence and nerve damage.

    1. I’m a 68 year old single ( separated ) man who has had cardiac by-pass surgery some 10 years ago. I found after a while the Viagra didn’t work as effectively so I went using “Trimix”. Trimix is an injectable medication made up of 3 different meds, produced by a formulary pharmacy.. A prescription is required of course. Now it may sound weird injecting your penis but it’s really not painful at all and the results are worth it..some men describe the injection like flicking your finger on your skin

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