Monday, February 6, 2012


On my 60th birthday, I plunged into mourning. I thought my sex life was over.

As I contemplated my bleak future, I took heart from Ruth Turner, who was quoted in Joyce Tenneson's book, Wise Women. At 75, Turner said, " I just got married again. I answered an ad in the New York Review of Books. That's how I met Larry. I am his sexual fantasy." I decided if she could be some ones sexual fantasy, so could I.

Further encouragement came while dining out one evening. As I prepared to order, I watched an elegant African-American couple of advanced years be seated next to me. She was somewhat frail, but he tenderly held her arm. I told her how lovely she looked.

With a conspiring air, he came over to me and said they were newlyweds. He proudly announced he had married a younger woman.

Patting him on the shoulder, I smiled and said, "Good for you."

He chuckled and said, "I'm 92, and she is 88."

As we ate, we chatted. As I was leaving, I bent over and whispered in her ear, "I just can't resist asking you. How is sex at 88?"

With a knowing smile, she replied, "Very interesting."

She promptly relayed my question to her husband, and we all had a good laugh.

A friend once said, "Nobody wants to talk to old people about sex." However, as a psychiatrist, my job is to ask questions, including questions about sex.

I once asked a depressed 78-year-old gentleman about his sex life with his wife of 50-plus years. He replied that it had always been wonderful until the preceding year. With a dejected look, he said that he was unable to have an erection because of his heart medications. He perked up when I suggested he talk with his cardiologist about oral and injectable treatments for erectile dysfunction.

A 92-year-old woman once related that she was saddened by her partner of 45 years who refused to be physically intimate. She said, "Old people still feel things. Believe me, I know."

Research has shown the need and desire for regular sexual activity does not significantly diminish with age. In fact, the ability for a man to achieve an erection and for both men and women to experience orgasm continues throughout their life spans. In additions, sexual activity, especially between loving partners, contributes to the physical and psychological health of the participants.

As mature women, we often have reared children and/or had fulfilling careers. Usually, we have resolved many of our emotional and spiritual issues and found peace within ourselves. In our maturity, we become comfortable in our skins. In the sensual and sexual realms, these can be our most fulfilling years.

So ladies, if you are having another birthday, put away your mourning shrouds. Enjoy your sexual maturity.

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