The words Sex Educator and Boomers don’t really seem to go together, do they? We don’t see much information specifically geared to the needs of older adults. We’re wise and experienced, but like everyone, a little extra education can be helpful.
I read a list of top sex education questions asked by college kids and young. Most of their questions are ones we might want to know about as well, reinforcing the notion that most questions about sex are relevant for all ages. There are some age-specific questions that we’ll look at later in the article.
These are the topics most often discussed among younger adults:
- The female orgasm
- Sending sexy text messages
- Open relationships
- Communicating in bed
- Curiosity about anal sex
- Am I normal when it comes to sex?
Let’s look at each one briefly.
The quest for the female orgasm has no age limits—just as sexual pleasure has no cut-off point. Not all women have orgasms; they want information that will help them become more orgasmic. Many men are eager to understand the female orgasm so they can better satisfy their partners.
Sex messages and texting: The issues may be a little different but we all need to understand the benefits and the risks of sexting. Text messaging can be a fun way to ramp up sexual desire and add more excitement to a relationship. Use it as one of the many ways you communicate with a lover. Sending sexy messages-yes. Sending naked photos-risky unless you know the recipient well and trust them. A photo of your genitalia as a ‘get to know me’ message is a bad, bad idea.
Open relationships are something lots of people are talking about. We’re hearing more about non-monogamous relationships in the media, in research, and as one option for exploring sex and relationships. I talked about the benefits and the risks of casual sex in my last article.
Consent is more than getting a yes from your partner before having sex. College campuses encourage consent as a preventive tool in sexual violence. Boomers can talk about consent as a way of expressing their desire to engage in sexual activities. Consent is thought of as a communication between two people, but it starts with the individual. Think about what you want from sexual relationships and then express that to your partner—your consent is like an enthusiastic “Yes”.
Communicating in bed is challenging at any stage of life. We have so much discomfort about sex and trying to express our likes and dislikes feels awkward—even when we might be comfortable with our partner in bed. Ideally, our communications include talking about your limitations and fears, asking for physical accommodations, STI prevention, and figuring out what you both want.
Anal sex is one of those taboo topics that seems to gaining in popularity right now. There are lots of articles about how to make it an enjoyable experience for both parties. It’s probably a topic that older adults aren’t comfortable talking about.
The question, “Am I normal” comes up as young people struggle with sexual identity and expressing their sexual needs or fantasies. Older adults have those same questions-probably more focused on whether their sex drive is normal. Is the failing erection to be expected for this age? Will I still want sex after menopause? When I’m 75? What if I’ve suddenly discovered I like to do ___________ or find myself desiring a partner of a different gender?
These questions focus on the specific needs of boomers:
- Will I dry up after menopause?
- Will the decline in natural lubrication make sex painful?
- What if I stop wanting sex?
- What if my partner stops wanting sex?
- How long will I be able to continue having intercourse?
- What if illness affects my ability to have sex?
- What if prostate cancer or some other illness makes me impotent?
- My partner died; will I ever have sex again?
Interestingly, the subject of sexually transmitted infections, or STIs, didn’t come up in the list of topics for younger adults. I think it’s a topic we need to discuss at every age. Any kind of sex, even protected sex, presents the risk of a sexually transmitted infection. We need to talk about STIs. We need to understand how and why testing is so important and be aware of the risks.
As you look at the list of questions, you can see that the quest for knowledge never stops. One way to remain sexually active is to ask the questions, to have the conversations and to be willing to embrace intimacy and sex as it presents itself over time. We may redefine sex due to illness or other age-related issues but we don’t have to give it up. We simply need to find the information and resources to answer our questions.
Are there other questions boomers need to ask? Are any of these ones you want to see me talk about more?
Walker Thornton is a writer, sex educator and public speaker, with a Masters in Educational Psychology and over 10 years experience in the field of sexual violence against women. She is a strong advocate for midlife women’s sexuality, encouraging women to ‘step into their desire’. Kinkly.com ranked her blog, WalkerThornton.com, #17 in their top 100 Sex Blogging Superheroes of 2013. Walker is the Sexual Health columnist for Midlife Boulevard and writes about sex and the older adult for Kinkly.com. You can connect with her on her website (www.walkerthornton.com ), Facebook (https://facebook.com/AWomansPage ) Twitter (http://twitter.com/WalkerThornton) and Google+ (https://plus.google.com/u/0/+WalkerThornton/posts ).