When you imagine what sex is supposed to be like after menopause…
What comes to mind?
Do you imagine gray-haired couples getting it on with a smile?
Or does your mind pull a blank?
No one really talks about what sex is supposed to be like as you get older.
If anything, the message seems to be that you stop having it.
You dry up. You don’t need it anymore.
But that’s not what sex expert Tracey Cox found.
She discovered that many couples were having even better sex after 50…
As long as they redefined how great sex looked and felt.
Yes, your sex life changes as your body ages.
But those changes can be fun and incredibly pleasurable.
In this week’s YBTV interview, Tracey shares tips from her new book Great Sex Starts at 50.
She talks about the difference between spontaneous and reactive desire, why men after 45 may suddenly act like they no longer want sex, and why some women blossom later in life while others don’t.
This interview contains explicit language. Viewer discretion is advised.
What You’ll Learn
“After writing 16 books about sex, I was not up for writing another one,” Tracey Cox says.
Then she turned 50.
“And it was just like, ‘Oh my god, this really is a completely different ballgame.'”
Tracey Cox is a sex expert who exploded on the scene in 1998 with her first book Hot Sex: How to Do It.
Since then, she’s been everywhere. Writing for magazines. Appearing on television. Doing her thing on TikTok.
She finds herself answering the same questions over and over again.
She shares basic sex facts, like the fact that only 25% of women can reach orgasm through penetrative sex alone.
And she STILL finds that her audience reacts with shock and surprise.
“How did we get to this point that it’s still not common knowledge?” she wonders.
Perhaps it’s because we don’t want to believe the truth.
We’ve been so convinced by movies and media that all sex must follow a certain formula. Penis + vagina = orgasm. Surely that’s how it works?
Women who ask for more can find themselves shut down. Their boyfriend snaps back, “None of my girlfriends have ever had a problem.” It feels like the problem is them… and they stop asking.
Sex after Menopause
By the time women reach their 50s, the questions start to change.
They don’t want to know how to give a great blowjob. They want to know how to have comfortable sex. They want to know what happened to their libido!
“That’s the thing that got me interested in writing this book,” Tracey says.
“Because I knew about all of these changes that were ahead of me, but I just thought, ‘This isn’t going to happen to me. I’ve written 16 books about sex!'”
She was certain her sex life would sail on just as before…
But instead it took a nosedive.
“It wasn’t even so much that I went off sex. I forgot about sex,” she says.
What was going on?
“What happens to women over 50 is that there’s so much that happens to your body. It’s not up here [in your mind],” she clarifies. “It’s your body.”
Specifically, it’s those pesky hormones.
From Spontaneous to Reactive Desire
If you’ve got the right balance of testosterone, estrogen, and progesterone, then your libido should be able to erupt out of nowhere. You’ll be watching a sex scene, or your partner will start putting the moves on you, and your body will respond.
That’s spontaneous desire.
But once your hormones start to change after menopause, spontaneous desire diminishes.
“It doesn’t mean that you won’t ever want sex again,” Tracey says, “but it does mean that … you have to get used to putting yourself in the mood.”
Often, what it takes for that desire to come back is starting to have sex. Once you’re into it, you want it.
This is known as reactive desire.
Most women post 50 think, ‘Oh, [my loss of libido] must mean I just don’t want sex.’ No, it means that you need really good stimulation, you need a good lover, and you need to take responsibility for arousing yourself.”
Better Sex Than Ever
“A lot of it is shifting your attitude,” Tracey explains.
If you want the kind of sex you had in your 20s, “that sort of hot, lots of thrusting-type sex, you probably do have to kiss goodbye to that to a certain degree,” she says.
“But if you want slower, more erotic sex that’s less penetration-focused, then your 50s can often be actually better than before.”
You may be slower to arouse and feel less sensitive, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.
“You just have to rethink what you think of as sex,” she says. “Sex doesn’t necessarily mean intercourse. It means lots of oral sex; it means lots of slow sex, erotic sex.”
And that can be good for him, too.
Men tend to be dealing with their own issues later in life, around the strength and duration of their erections.
“To try and move men from this mindset that, actually, you don’t have to penetrate something to have good sex, is so difficult,” Tracey explains.
Men understand that women can have orgasms without intercourse, but they still feel that they need an erection. How else will their partner know how much they desire her?
To make matters worse, a lot of “men would rather never have sex again then admit to not getting an erection,” Tracey adds.
“If a guy who’s 45 or over used to have great sex with his partner, then suddenly he doesn’t want to have sex anymore and won’t talk about it, there’s always erection issues.”
The couples who continue to have great sex talk about it.
She says, “Wow, sex is actually starting to become a bit more painful for me. Maybe we should have more oral sex, less penetration.”
He replies, “Well, actually, I’m having troubles getting really firm erections, so that suits me fine.”
And their sex life shifts to mutual masturbation and mutual oral sex.
That’s in an ideal world.
In the real world, couples can struggle for a long time before admitting that things aren’t working.
“The more honest you are about the things that happen to you as you age, the more honest your partner will be with you,” Tracey says.
That includes single women who are dating.
If you’ve got, say, arthritic knees, don’t be afraid to tell your new partner.
“Just make fun of it,” Tracey recommends. “Keep it light. Don’t make it a big deal, and they won’t find it a big deal.”
“I think anyone worth his stuff is not going to fall to pieces if you say, ‘Actually, you know what? This might hurt a little bit. Do you mind if we do it this way?'”
When Tracey was researching her new book, she found that the women she interviewed fell into two camps.
One group of women were lamenting their lost youth. They hated getting old. They missed the way their body used to be.
The other group of women were ecstatic. They were celebrating. “Oh my god, I’m free of my periods! I’ve got more time now. I really like myself. Now I understand my body more. I might not look the same, but I think I’m sexy.”
Who were having the worst sex lives?
You guessed—the negative women.
“You have to just make peace with [the fact] that your body isn’t going to look the same,” Tracey says. “Who cares?”
Why is a young body necessarily any more attractive than an older body? …Where did we ever come to this conclusion that older women weren’t as attractive as young women?”
“It’s all in your attitude, so the first person you have to convince is yourself,” Tracey says.
“Find somebody who appreciates your body. Look at yourself differently. A lot of this beating up stuff doesn’t come from society. It comes from you.”
Are you ready to reclaim your sexy?
Then grab your copy of Tracey’s book Great Sex Starts at 50!
And if you’d like a little help in the toy department, don’t forget to check out Tracey’s sex toy line.
Tracey Cox is one of the world’s most famous sex experts and writers on sex and relationships. She has written 17 books, many of which are bestsellers worldwide, including her first book Hot Sex: How to Do It, available in 140 countries and translated into over 20 languages. She has been writing, researching and talking about sex for thirty years and has toured the world as an international sex, body language and relationship expert.
Get all things Tracey.