Healthy Aging

How to Be Ready for Sex When It’s Been a While


Every month in Sex at Our Age, award-winning senior sexpert Joan Price answers your questions about everything from loss of desire to solo sex and partner issues. Nothing is out of bounds! To send your questions directly to Joan, email

I’m a 67-year-old widow. I haven’t had sex with anyone except my BOB (battery-operated boyfriend) since my husband died 10 years ago. He was the love of my life, and I didn’t think I would ever want to be with another man. But a couple of months ago I started seeing a man I really like. He’s funny, understanding, kindhearted—and he makes me feel desirable again. I surprise myself by getting excited when we kiss, and I can’t help imagining what it would be like to have sex with him. I didn’t know this sexual hunger could be possible again!

We haven’t gone past long kisses and cuddling. Each time we get close to the next stage, I put on the stops, and he respects my limits. But now I’m asking myself, what am I waiting for? I am feeling ready to experience sex and intimacy again. I’m honest with him about my fears about being with someone new, and he says he understands, he’ll be gentle, and he’ll wait until I’m ready. He’s hinting that he’d like to give me “something very special” for my birthday next month. I don’t think he means roses or jewelry.

How do I prepare physically? I’ve been masturbating, so I know I’m capable of orgasm, but I don’t know how my old vagina will respond to a penis after a decade. I don’t know how big he is—can you even ask a man that?—and I’m scared that it will hurt.

How do I prepare emotionally? What if I can’t go through with it? I hope you can help me quickly! —Fossilized

Joan Price responds

Isn’t it exciting when a new relationship renews the delights of desire and arousal, especially when we thought that was over for us! Yes, we are remarkably resilient, even after we’ve grieved for a beloved. I’m happy for you!

I commend you for several actions you’ve taken:

  • You’ve continued to masturbate to keep yourself sexually vibrant. That’s so important.
  • You talk honestly with your new man about your feelings. Communication is key to feeling safe and respected.
  • You aren’t rushing into sex before you’re ready.

It sounds like you’re ready for the next step emotionally, but you’re nervous about what we used to call “going all the way.” Here’s the thing: It doesn’t have to be all or nothing. You can talk to your fellow about taking it a step a time. Remember “first base,” “second base,” “third base,” and “home run” when we were teenagers? Before you get started kissing and cuddling, you can discuss going very slowly from one base to the next—maybe over several dates, or maybe just checking in verbally. You can suggest, “Let’s slow down” or “let’s take a break” whenever you feel that things are going too fast or too far.

As for the physical readiness, continue to masturbate, including penetration with fingers and/or sex toys. You don’t indicate that you have any discomfort with penetrative solo play. If you don’t, but you’re worried about his penis size and the rigors of intercourse, be sure he understands that older vaginal skin is thinner and more delicate, especially when you’ve gone a long time without penetration.

There are plenty of other ways to give each other orgasms while your body adapts. The more relaxed you are, the better it will feel, so instead of having intercourse be the goal, let pleasure be the goal. See my Senior’s Guide to Sex Without Intercourse on this website. Delaying intercourse as you get intimate step by step may be a relief to him, too, because he wants to please you and not cause you pain or anxiety.

Be sure to use lubricant liberally, both when you’re masturbating and with him. Make the lubricant part of the erotic scene—leave it in plain view and ask him to apply it by massaging it gently over your vulva and inside your vagina when you get to “third base.” It’s lovely if you can coach him to give you an orgasm that way, whether or not intercourse will happen that day. It’s sexy to reciprocate, too – ask him how he likes to be touched and use lubricant on him, too. (For more about lubricant, see my Senior’s Guide to Lubrication)

And please, use condoms! Have them sitting next to the lubricant. That’s part of entering into a new relationship.

Good luck, and I hope you have a fabulous experience!

Additional Resources on

Would you like to see more questions and answers? See all of Joan’s advice in Sex @ Our Age.

Send Joan your questions by emailing All information is confidential.

joan-priceJoan Price is the author of “The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50: How to Maintain – or Regain! – a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life”;  the award-winning self-help book “Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex”; and the sexy memoir, “Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty.” Visit Joan’s  blog, “Naked at Our Age,” and her Facebook page. For interesting senior sex news, views, practical tips, announcements about events and webinars, and special offers, join Joan’s mailing list.


4 responses to “How to Be Ready for Sex When It’s Been a While

  1. 65 and planning to sex a retry. I thought the answers you gave ( although 0ld school ) were understandable and helpful.
    Fear is a limiter of activity. if she has the desire for machanical sex, slow and easy is all that is required.
    Thank you

  2. J, I’m sorry that my tone struck the wrong chord for you. The language from the ’50s and ’60s was meant to be humorous, but I clearly missed the mark with you. As for “penetrative play,” she said she masturbates regularly, and I encouraged her to include penetration if she didn’t already.

    I’ve already written about vaginal atrophy and pain in the two columns I listed in the References section: “Painful Sex: Where To Go For Help” and “How To Deal With Vaginal Atrophy Post-Menopause.” Rather than repeat the same information, I included links to those articles. I hope you’ll find those links helpful.

    I always appreciate feedback from our readers. Let’s continue the discussion.

    – Joan

  3. This really isn’t helpful at all. The question was about physical capacity. The answer didn’t really get into the nitty-gritty of what to expect, and how to deal with the atrophy, etc, except to talk about lubricant (and failing to say what type).

    And this: “You don’t indicate that you have any discomfort with penetrative solo play.” She didn’t indicate that she had any penetrative play!

    Also the tone was patronizing. Talking about “going all the way,” the three bases, etc. Nobody has talked like that since the 60’s, (and not everyone did back then either …) The writer was 67 not 102!

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