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Why Older Woman May Have Trouble Climaxing—and What You Can Do

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 sexpert@seniorplanet.org.

My partner and I are in our early 70s. We’ve been together for several months and enjoy sex two or three times a week. He doesn’t have a large penis, but that doesn’t matter, because I get great pleasure from the way it touches my g-spot. I enjoy sex with him a lot, even though I don’t climax—although he thinks I do. In fact, he thinks I have multiple vaginal orgasms because of the pleasure he sees me experiencing.

Still, I am concerned that I almost never climax at all. Even with my vibrator that used to bring me there in under a minute, it now takes a very long time, and sometimes I can’t do it at all.

This change came on gradually. I’d been using the vibrator often, but nowadays not so much, because my boyfriend hates vibrators and doesn’t want me to use one. He wants to make sure I reached orgasms with him, not with my sex toy.

Why can’t I climax anymore? Did I zap my clitoris to death with my vibrator? Or could he have flattened my clitoris area by trying to get the deepest penetration? He’s not really hurting me, but his weight on me makes it hard to breathe while he’s trying to penetrate deeply, and I have told him this. He really likes it when I straddle him, and I enjoy that, too. But if it takes too long, it’s a killer on my knees, so we change positions at that point.

Is it something wrong with me? I have not asked my doctor. I would be too embarrassed, especially at my age. So I’m asking you!  —Can’t Climax

Joan Price responds

You’re concerned that you’re having trouble reaching orgasm alone with your vibrator, when it used to happen easily. There might be a medical problem that you need to investigate. Just in case, please swallow the embarrassment and ask your doctor to run tests to see if something is going on that is interfering with your ability to reach orgasm. This might be an urgent matter, such as heart disease or diabetes, or a medication issue that can be adjusted.

That said, as we age, many of us experience increasing difficulty achieving orgasm. Our hormones are not the reliable helpers they used to be. Our body aches, other medical conditions, medications and anxiety about not reaching orgasm contribute to the problem. Trouble breathing when your partner is on top and knee pain when you’re on top don’t help, either! Plus 75 percent of women of all ages do not reach orgasm solely through penetration, so you’re not alone there.

The point is that as we get older, most of us need extra clitoral stimulation. That’s what vibrators do superbly—and intercourse does not do at all. Their sole function is to make it easier to reach orgasm. Why would your partner want to deny you that? I know that many men in heterosexual relationships are anxious about their partners using vibrators: What if she prefers it to me? Shouldn’t she have an orgasm the “natural” way? Maybe you could show him the blog post I wrote about that: “Senior Sex & Vibrators: Myths & Facts.”

Your partner wants to help you climax, so please stop faking orgasms! Since he thinks he’s doing that already, he has no incentive to try other methods that might work for you, such as more oral and manual sex and incorporating a vibrator into your lovemaking together. If you add a vibrator for clitoral stimulation during intercourse with your partner, you may find that you’re able to orgasm that way. But don’t put pressure on yourself. Anxiety is an orgasm-killer.

Your relationship is still pretty new, so get your communication on track. Say your version of something like this:

“I love the way you pleasure me when you’re inside me. You give me so much joy that way! This is really hard for me to say: I’m getting pleasure, but not orgasms. The only way I reach orgasm is with my vibrator. You’ve been so anti-vibrator that I didn’t know how to tell you that it’s the only way I’ll reach orgasm, and even that’s not reliable. I’m embarrassed that I haven’t been fully honest about it, but I want to be honest now. Can we please explore how to enjoy my vibrator together?”

(For more about how to tell the truth after you’ve been faking orgasm, see my piece on seniorplanet.org, “How to Tell the Truth About Faking Orgasms.”)

There are also some things you can do yourself to decrease arousal time and increase your chance of orgasm:

  • Enjoy frequent solo sessions with your vibrator. The more orgasms you have, the easier it will be to have more.
  • Exercise before sex (solo or partnered) to bring blood flow to the genitals.
  • Avoid eating before sex, because that sends the blood flow to the digestive system.

I’ve given you a lot of things to think about. I hope you’ll get back to us and let us know how it went. I wish you the best.—Joan


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 sexpert@seniorplanet.org. 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.

9 comments
    • Janie whitney
      REPLY

      I am having an affair with a younger man. My orgasm story sounds like the run I just read. I have few orgasms and it always requires a vibrator. I can come sometimes at home but with my husband and son here all the time it’s hard to be frequent. My husband is disabled and we haven’t had sex in years. Orgasm was difficult at 55 so I gave up and just catered to him.
      Tuan is getting rough. He hurts my parts. He jams his penis and wand in at the same time. I have already tried my own little vibrator but it doesn’t help so he gets rough. Perhaps this is why I don’t come. What once happened occasionally now not at all.
      We only have 50 minutes. I know all this is wrong .
      I want orgasms back for anxiety relief and pleasure.
      62 and fading fast.

  • Carla
    REPLY

    I slowly lost my sex drive and no longer have sex at all. However, once in awhile I have I desire to climate. I sometimes use a vibrator but I no longer have strong orgasms. Sometimes it is so mild it’s flrustating. Why has orgrass become so mild?

  • Jennifer Dee
    REPLY

    I am 53 and not 70, and I have not been unable to reach orgasm the last 3 or 4 weeks, and it use to be once or twice a week, may-be it is the Holidays, but I never use to have that problem, I do take blood pressure medicine, may-be that is it.

  • Pamela
    REPLY

    I have recently been unable to reach a climax. I have been taken a lot of anti histamine and using hydrocortisone creams could this be the reason?

  • Robyn Eckert
    REPLY

    I had a hysterectomy in 2009 because of uterine cancer. For awhile I have been doing well reaching an orgasm with my husband. The passed few years I have had problems reaching that. The last 3 or 4 times I have been unable to get there. We have read books, tried watching movies, using a vibrator but I still have issues. He uses Cialis because he has his issues. He two years ago had bladder cancer. I was instantly upset because I felt I gave him cancer. ( I Know not true) . I just felt that way. He is 69 and I am 66. We are running out of things to try and fix the situation. We can you suggest? I feel like I let him down because sometimes I try to wait for him to reach that point and then it’s hard for me. I’m not sure what’s happening. Need some help or at least advice.

    • Patricia Cook
      REPLY

      I am having sex with my boyfriend and I am not able to have climax and he does. It feels good but I can’t climax.
      So I am 69 years old. I haven’t had sex sense 2008. Is there any thing I can take. I just wish I could climax to enjoy also.

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