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Are You an Older Woman Who's Given Up on Having Sex? Why?

I don't understand. Why would anyone be alright with this?

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illustration of bedroom with red bed and side table with sex toy
Valero Doval
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In most aspects of life, I am the poster child for acceptance: I live and let others live without judgment. I honestly don’t care who you do what with as long as everyone is a consenting adult and nobody gets hurt or leaves dirty dishes in the sink for me to wash. That last is a definite no-no.

But when it comes to healthy older women who say they are perfectly happy living without partnered sex, well, that’s a real head-scratcher for me. Do they really mean it? They can’t really mean it, can they? Help me understand, please.

I know many women younger than my 74 years who say they long ago lost interest in having sex with someone else. In some cases, their libidos went MIA (missing in action) when their long-time partners got sick or died. Other times, they lost their sex drive in a divorce ”but got the house,” as one quipped.

Given the explosion in the sex toys market — estimated by BusinessWire to have been $13.6 billion in 2022 in the U.S. alone — I’d have to conclude that more than a few have turned to pleasuring themselves. Perfectly acceptable in my book, but unless your vibrator likes to cuddle afterward, I still think something is missing from the experience.

I also wonder how much the swearing-off of partnered sex really boils down to a simple lack of opportunity to have any. Opportunity does seem to increasingly vanish from the landscape as we age. I mean where exactly do you go hunting for a sex partner? This, especially if you grew up as so many of us did believing that where there is intimacy, there should also be a committed relationship.

Dating sites can be creepy even when the members are on the up-and-up, and they would certainly be a dangerous place to troll for a partner who just wants a roll-in-the-hay. Bars are so 50 years ago and besides, who wants to be Mrs. Robinson anyway?

I will acknowledge that what pretty much every one of these celibate-by-circumstances women (and the celibate-by-choice crowd) insists is that they are perfectly happy doing without any sex at all. And that’s where my understanding falters.

For many, having a friend-with-benefits carries the risk of ruining the friendship. Let's admit it: Sex changes everything and eventually someone gets hurt. But for older women, the pool of available men has shrunk considerably. In fact, single women have so outnumbered men on cruises that some ships hired “gentleman hosts” to dance and dine with the solo ladies. But even there, the hired silver foxes must keep their pants on or risk losing their jobs.

Sex is a good thing. Not only does it feel good when properly executed, but it’s also good for us. It reduces our stress, exercises our heart, lowers our blood pressure, and on some planet, clears up teenage acne — at least if my first high-school boyfriend is to be believed.

Sexual satisfaction has long been recognized as a key aspect of our well-being. In a classic case of which came first, the chicken or the egg, I’m left wondering if women's diminished libido is their bodies’ way of adjusting to the lack of opportunity. Or do they create a lifestyle without opportunity because their sex drive has evaporated? If it’s the latter, why not consult a doctor about using a low-dose hormone cream if your health profile permits? Trust me, a little dab will do ya.

Science seems to weigh in on the sexless crowd with a shrug of the shoulders, like maybe it’s no big deal. But I think it is, and perhaps the winds of “this is mostly a female problem” are "a blowing." In general, menopause is blamed mightily. The reduction in our estrogen and testosterone levels leads to the thinning of our vaginal lining, loss of lubrication and atrophy of the important body parts. Collectively, all this causes intercourse to hurt and be less fun. And in almost every case, a visit to the doctor can fix it.

The truth is, our biology changes as we age. Women are their horniest when they are of child-bearing age and both their desire for sex and ability to conceive seem to take a hike in the woods together around the time they hit menopause. But why are so many older women still operating like Neanderthals in the bedroom? Sex for procreation is nice for the human race and all, but haven’t we progressed to fully accepting sex for pleasure?

What I really would like to understand is how someone can be fulfilled in a life without physical intimacy. I could no more go without food and water than I could live without the joy and pleasure that having sex affords me. Just so long as there are no dirty dishes left in the sink.

 
What do you think of the above? Do you think it's strange when older women say they do NOT have a desire to have sex? Let us know in the comments below.

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