With a glint in her eye, a vibrator in her hand and not a hint of arthritic wrist pain she whispered: “It awakened something in me that I thought was long dead. I never even realised how much I missed it. Oh, how I missed it.”
Netflix’s Emmy-nominated show Grace and Frankie certainly doesn’t shy away from discussing the sexual needs of older people, with the hilarious leading stars (played by Jane Fonda and Lily Tomlin) reminding us all that a cheeky sense of humour and a quality orgasm is exactly what’s needed to stay young.
If you’ve already contemplated the idea of spicing things up with a sex toy, you’ll know exactly how daunting the idea of wandering into a sex shop (even the online version) can be. From gigantic (weirdly lifelike) vibrators to every bizarre shape and colour you can think of, there’s something available for all tastes and knowing where to start can be a little tricky.
To help you navigate this brave new world, we spoke to sex toy expert Susan Jarvis of The Spicy Boudoir to get some tips on how to introduce toys to your solo or coupled sex life and to find out what benefits you can expect once you’ve cleared away those cobwebs.
Jarvis says there are many misconceptions around sex and older people, with many believing the desire for intimacy diminishes as you age. Of course, this couldn’t be further from the truth. A lot of this misunderstanding stems from a lack of knowledge about our erotic anatomy — something Jarvis encourages everyone to explore and educate themselves on as they age.
“There is no age limit or expiry on sex and intimacy for older people,” she says.
“While this generation of Boomers lived during the sexual revolution, a lack of sex education and knowledge about our bodies exist. Many women do not know that their clitoris is just what can be seen and touched!”
While there are biological challenges that arise (or don’t arise — hello, erectile dysfunction) with sex as we age, Jarvis says there are ways to work around these issues. Some of the most common hurdles for sex in our 60s and beyond include vaginal dryness, low libido and erectile dysfunction. The first step towards conquering these obstacles is realising that as we age our bodies shift towards ‘responsive desire’, which is when our sexual desire comes in response to stimulation rather than a spontaneous urge.
“It’s true that we will rarely feel that spontaneous surge of desire like we did when our bodies were driven by nature to produce offspring,” she said. “In our older years we need to understand that the majority of people will experience what’s referred to as responsive desire.”
Orgasms are not only good for mental health but they’re also one of the best ways to reconnect with your partner and deepen your understanding of your own body if you’re going solo.
“Aside from jumping out of a parachute, I don’t think anyone else can make you feel as alive as having sex! Using a sex toy opens up another dimension to lovemaking,” she said. “It opens up the fun and excitement of trying something new.
“For both men and women who experience difficulty reaching orgasm, a product that provides stimulation more than what one can achieve by manual means can do the trick. For many women, their orgasm is locked in their head and sometimes a toy can be the key to letting go.”
Buying a sex toy for the first time can be daunting, and introducing it into your relationship can seem even harder. Jarvis says there are many ways to introduce the idea of bringing a device into the bedroom, but if you feel awkward or uncomfortable about it, she recommends using a humorous approach or playing a sexy game to get the conversation started.
“Don’t bring a sex toy into a relationship to solve a problem. They should be viewed as an enhancement to the fun. If there is a problem to talk about then seek help with a sexologist,” she said.
“Create a sexy bucket list and plan some one-on-one time to share your list. Use a funny analogy such as, ‘my hands got sore using sandpaper so I bought a drill’ the same goes for the toy. [Or] ‘I know you like playing with the tools in your shed so I got you this special ‘O’ ring’ (aka cock ring).
“Men should not fear being judged, feel inadequate or feel disregarded by their lover when using a vibrator. They should seek to become the master wielder of the pleasure device on their lover.”
There are thousands of toys on the market, which can make for a confusing first experience. One way to simplify things is to think about what kind of orgasm you’re looking for — clitoral or vaginal.
“While orgasms are fun, it’s the journey that should be the focus,” Jarvis says.
“Firstly, what is your orgasmic fantasy? Knowing what your orgasmic fantasy is — or what we like to call ‘orgasmic preference’ — will help you determine if you prefer a pleasure device that is realistic or one that is modern with a contemporary aesthetic designed for pleasure and one that also suits your physical needs such as being comfortable to hold.
“Let’s face it, you should get the best bang for your buck – and that’s not just a well-deserved pun!”
The advent of senior-friendly sex toys has opened up a whole new chapter for over 60s, offering both women and men toys that cater for a range of health issues, including arthritis and sexual disfunction. Many of these toys have different levels of vibration so you can control the stimulation and are also designed to be easy to hold and put less pressure on arthritic wrists.
Jarvis says there are a few essentials for older people looking to enhance their sexual experiences, but at the end of the day “the physical needs of our body and our desires should guide us,” not our age.
“Lube! It’s essential. As we get older the tissue of our genitals becomes thinner (just like our skin),” she says.
“I live with chronic pain in my knees so use pillows to support my body: I prop this under my pelvis and use a pillow under my knees. I [also] like the Digit by Hot Octopus because it straps to my fingers and I don’t have to worry about holding it.”
Perfect for those with arthritis, the DiGiT is one of the most ergonomic sex toys on the market! With five power settings, it’s also perfect for those dipping their toes into the world of sex toys for the first time, giving you full control of your orgasm.
If you’re unsure what your ‘orgasmic preference’ is, the Ruby is a perfect choice as it’s versatile enough to be used for both clitoral stimulation, or an internal massage of the g-spot.
This bendy fellow also offers the ability for clitoral and internal stimulation and heats up to a comfortable 40°C, just above standard body temperature, to enhance circulation, arousal, and relaxation. It also offers seven intensity settings and three vibration patterns, for you to customise your experience, and is entirely waterproof for use in the shower or bath.
The Vibrating stroker for men can be used solo or with a partner, and offers a sleek and easy-to-use handle design with ridges specifically designed to hold lube for a better and longer lasting glide.