When does Sex End?
Twenty years ago, I decided to teach a course on the subject of senior sex to retirees. When I ran a newspaper ad inviting people to a preview of the course at the Elders Institute at FIU, 120 seniors responded.
Over the next eight weeks I talked about everything from attitudes and misinformation about sex to initiating open conversations, the terms to use when discussing sex, and the changes that accompany aging.
I and the 45 retirees who signed up for the regular class traipsed through two shops in Coconut Grove: the Condom Sense, which specializes in condoms, and the Pink Pussycat, which sells explicit sex items. We asked questions, and we discussed, at first hesitantly, then more openly, the physiology of orgasms and masturbation. We touched visual aids such as a lucite penis and an anatomically correct rubber vulva. And we watched videos.
Under my guidance, the students, most of them between the ages of 65 and 85, moved slowly into the 1990s. The class was a freeing-up experience, one participant said. No one finished the course without feeling they had been liberated to some extent.
“I came to the class dewy-eyed and innocent,” said a 66-year-old widow. “I had been married for 42 years in a loving monogamous relationship. I married very young, and I've done more dating as a widow than I ever did as a single person. The social mores have changed so much in the interim that I had to be brought into the modern world.''
Martha Sachs, 79, found the Sex After 50 class so enlightening that by the third session she had persuaded her 84-year-old husband Ben to give up his weekly golf game to take the class with her. The videos they viewed opened their minds to a new way of thinking about sex.
''People are saying that at age 50 or 60 your sex life is over, but that's a myth,'' Sachs says. ''You start understanding that it isn't just the sex act that counts, it's the idea that people can enjoy sex in different ways even when they're in their 70s and 80s. That's important, because a lot of people are not close to each other. They feel that if they don't have sex they can't be close. But the video show couples hugging and kissing and enjoying life regardless of whether they had sexual intercourse.”
Dr. Judie is a Clinical Sexologist and educator who has appeared on numerous television programs and hosted an award-winning cable television program called "Sex Talk." A contributor to Lifestyles magazine, she also authored a sexuality column for "Senior Life," an award-winning publication of Mature Media. She has been an interviewer for the "Better Sex" video series and serves as a talking head in the video, "Sex After 50." Follow her on Twitter @DocJudie.
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