Feeling alive: sex for one in old age

White Gift Box. 3d Image.

Here’s a story about something you probably didn’t think of getting yourself for Valentine’s Day.

I read about retired schoolteacher Roslyn in an article on sex and the over 70s published in The New York Times Magazine last month and reproduced in edited form in an Australian paper.

For her 80th birthday Roslyn was given a gift by her daughters: a box with a big red bow and a vibrator inside.

She was amused but put it in a cupboard and didn’t think much about it again. Like many women in her 80s, her husband had died and she thought of her sex life as long gone.

Sex wasn’t the only part of her physical life that she’d given up on. She’d stopped riding her bike because her family worried that she’d fall off and break something. She quit tennis after straining muscles.

But a few years after receiving her vibrator present, she saw a segment on morning TV about women and vibrators which piqued her curiosity.

By then, her daughters, one of whom runs female sexuality retreats, had given her a few others. Eventually she found one she liked and decided to experiment.

She was nervous about hurting herself but thrilled with the result.

Although it’s hardly a popular conversation topic, older women using vibrators makes a lot of sense. Women live longer than men and are more likely to be without a partner for at least some part of their later years.

The article also referred to the late Betty Dodson, a New York based sex educator who died in late 2020 at the age of 91.

“The most consistent sex will be the love affair you have with yourself,” she wrote in her book Sex for One, first published in 1987. “Masturbation will get you through childhood, puberty, romance, marriage and divorce, and it will see you through old age.”

At age 92 Roslyn attended one of her daughter’s retreats. By the end of the article she was 95. Although her hearing and vision weren’t the best by this point, it turned out her sexual response worked well. Her vibrator made her “feel alive” as well as being handy when she had difficulty falling asleep.

Most of us don’t have daughters whose idea of a nice birthday gift for Mum is a vibrator. But that doesn’t mean it’s not a worthy idea.

Betty Dodson used to say, “Better orgasms, better world”. Maybe a better old age too?


The NYT Magazine article was written by Maggie Jones and called The Joys (and Challenges) of Sex After 70.

Photo Source: Bigstock


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