The EDGE Blog

National Orgasm Day: How Orgasms Change As You Get Older

Orgasms change as you get older. But, says Joan Price in this piece for National Orgasm Day, they can be richly satisfying with the right stimulation and an open mind.

An aging body is not just a young body that happens to have wrinkles and arthritis. Each decade brings us more physical, emotional, and relationship challenges. We no longer have the hormonal sex drive that propels us to orgasm no matter what else is happening in our lives.

That means orgasms change, or they become more elusive. Arousal may require more time, effort, and stimulation. The things that used to get us to orgasm might not work reliably anymore. Our future is not doom and gloom, though. These changes are frustrating, but surmountable. Orgasms can be richly satisfying with the right kind and amount of stimulation and an open mind, so on National Orgasm Day, let’s talk about how to achieve that.

Why are orgasms difficult, and how do I fix this?

  • Hormonal changes and reduced blood flow slow arousal and make orgasms more difficult. Take plenty of time for sexual pleasure. Find ways to rev up your arousal. Exercise helps!
  • Inability to reach orgasm may be caused by a known or not-yet-diagnosed medical condition. It’s essential to get your doctor involved.
  • Some common medications have sexual side effects that interfere with sexual function and responsiveness. Your pharmacist can help you.
  • Aches and pains may prevent you from getting in the positions you like best, or you may find yourself concentrating on discomfort instead of pleasure. Experiment with finding your most comfortable activities and positions. Time your pain medications. Use pillows and other props for comfort.
  • Relationship issues can kill desire and intimacy. Work with a sex therapist or counselor to resolve these problems if you’re stuck.
  • You may not be getting the kind of sex you need for optimal arousal. Learn to ask for what you want, explore new options, and say no to activities that interfere with your pleasure.
  • If you don’t have a partner, don’t give up on sex with yourself — the person who knows your needs best. Relax and enjoy the orgasms you can give yourself.

What else can I do?

We often defeat ourselves with goal-oriented sex. Eliminate sexual goals that make you anxious, which sets up a ‘flight or fight’ reaction that stops arousal. Change your attitude so that your sex goal is to learn the most you can about how aging affects sexual function and response — and how you can use that information to enhance your sex life.

Ask yourself: what gives me the most pleasure? How and where do I get the skin sensation I need for orgasm? What kind of touch works best for me now? What time of day am I most responsive?

Practice asking for what you want. Whether you’re in a long-term relationship or getting sexual with a new person, communicate your needs and desires clearly, warmly, and in an inviting rather than critical tone. Your partner will appreciate knowing how to give you pleasure. (If this is difficult for you, I give plenty of communication tips in The Ultimate Guide to Sex after 50 and in all my webinars.)

Most important orgasm advice:

1) If the cause is medical, get medical help to resolve it. This isn’t easy, because doctors are not sex experts and may be uncomfortable with our sexual questions. But we must try, and medical professionals must educate themselves and create referral lists to help us.

2) If the ways you used to enjoy sex most don’t work for you anymore, explore other ways that might work better. We are sexual beings lifelong. Expanding our sexual repertoire keeps sex vibrant.

3) Choose and use a vibrator or assortment of vibrators for the extra stimulation you need to reach orgasm. Hot Octopuss has amazing products for our age group. In addition, I review sex toys from a “senior perspective” on my blog.

4) Engage in sexual pleasure more often. The more sexually active you are — partnered or solo, with whatever sexual expression you prefer — the easier it becomes to reach orgasm.

Special considerations for penis-owners

Everything above applies to all genders. But there is a big gap in our understanding about penises: erections are not a requirement for orgasm. With the right stimulation, orgasm can happen without an erection.

Erectile difficulties interfere with orgasm, but not for the reason you think. We need to combat the mindset that stops us from even exploring sex without an erection. If we think a flaccid penis signals lack of interest in sex or inability to enjoy sex, we don’t even try. If instead, we take this as an opportunity to explore different ways to give and receive sexual pleasure, we discover worlds of sensation and satisfaction. For many more ideas, watch my webinar, “Great Sex Without Penetration.”

A flaccid penis is capable of great sexual pleasure and its owner can be brought to orgasm. Try stimulating your penis of choice with fellatio or PULSE or JETT — no erection required. Likewise, partner sex that relies on the many sexual activities that don’t depend on an erect penis — oral, manual, toys — can be immensely satisfying for both of you.

Just as an erection isn’t necessary for orgasm, neither is ejaculation. After prostate surgery, for example, ejaculation is not possible, but a ‘dry’ orgasm can happen. The sensation of an orgasm without ejaculation is a ‘real’ orgasm. Let go of your notion of what orgasm has to look like. Pay more attention to giving the sensation needed to make orgasm happen.

But wait — I have more questions!

This is a huge topic, and I can’t address everything in one blog post. Let these points be your first steps for rethinking how to make sex more rewarding and satisfying.  I’ve written four books to help you enhance your senior sex life, and there’s still more to say. Fortunately, the Hot Octopuss Senior Sex Hub has more blog posts by me and others and answers to specific questions. This hub is growing all the time, so check back often.

How can I learn more?

– “Great Sex Without Penetration” webinar by Joan Price (Hot Octopuss readers get a 30% discount with code GSWP-30%)

– “Erection Changes After 50: The Facts” by Michael Castleman

– “Ask Joan: Easier Orgasms” by Joan Price for Senior Planet

– “Joan Price’s Ultimate Senior Sex Tips” for Hot Octopuss

Headshot of senior sexpert Joan Price, with a slight, alluring smileJoan Price calls herself an advocate for ageless sexuality. She is the author of four books about sex and aging, including the award-winning Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex and her latest: Sex after Grief: Navigating Your Sexuality After Losing Your Beloved. Her award-winning blog has been offering senior sex news, views, and sex toy reviews since 2005. At age 76, Joan continues to talk out loud about senior sex—partnered or solo. She is the co-creator of “jessica drake’s Guide to Wicked Sex: Senior Sex.” Find Joan at


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