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Sex and Aging

At the CSPH, we believe it is imperative to celebrate sexuality throughout the entire lifespan. We recognize that with aging comes change in many aspects of life, including sexuality. We strive to provide resources to accommodate these changes and enhance the sexual lives of folks as they age. We want to assert that sexuality is not something that ceases to exist at a certain age and we believe that accurate information should be available for folks at every life stage.

By including resources here, we are not necessarily endorsing all the information provided, so please check sources and make your own decisions about the content. Furthermore, not all of these necessarily have entirely friendly language, but might have important facts/good suggestions, so they are included. If you have any resources to add to this list, or have any concerns about the information listed here, please email aida@thecsph.org!

The CSPH would like to give thanks and credit to SIECUS for the resources found on their Sex in Middle and Later Life Bibliography.

Organizations

SAGE USA
SAGE (Services and Advocacy for GLBT Elders) is the country’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) older adults. Founded in 1978 and headquartered in New York City, SAGE is a national organization that offers supportive services and consumer resources to LGBT older adults and their caregivers, advocates for public policy changes that address the needs of LGBT older people, and provides training for aging providers and LGBT organizations through its National Resource Center on LGBT Aging.
Some highlighted projects from SAGE are their friendly visitor program, connecting younger LGBT adult with older LGBT adults, fostering companionship across generations, and the SAGE Harlem center, a community safe-space in the Harlem neighborhood of New York City where LGBT elders can socialize.

The Sexuality and Aging Consortium at Widener University
An educational outreach initiative of the Widener University’s Center for Human Sexuality Studies dedicated to enhancing the sexual health, knowledge and well being of people in mid and later life by providing quality sexuality education to individuals, couples and to professionals who serve them. Consortium members are professionals whose work addresses diverse aspects of sexuality. They recognize sexuality to be a life-long issue that affects everything about an individual from self-perceived sex and gender to the management of sexual health and attractions of the heart. The consortium puts on an annual Fall conference on sexuality and aging, and produces a blog.

The Transgender Aging Network
FORGE is a Milwaukee-based, progressive organization whose missiong is to support educate and advocate for the rights and lives of transgender individuals and SOFFAS (Significant Others, Friends, and Allies).  Their Transgender Aging Network maintains a listserv for transgendered elders and SOFFAS, as well as one for professionals working with aging populations.  FORGE also provides training for professionals who want to create welcoming environments for transgendered individuals.

LGBT Aging Project
The Boston Based LGBT Aging Project is a non-profit organization dedicated to ensuring that lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender elders have equal access to the life-prolonging benefits, protections, services and institutions that their heterosexual neighbors take for granted.  They organize a variety of  social and educational events for the aging LGBT community, including weekly luncheons, monthly brunch for LBT women and events for older folks during Boston Pride.  They also host a group for LGBT persons who provide care to aging family members, to discuss issues of family acceptance and support.

Minnesota LGBT Senior Organizations
Provides a statewide list of organizations for support, advocacy and socializing.

 

Books

General Books

Better than Ever: Love and Sex at Midlife
Bernie Zilbergeld
2005; Crowne House Publishing
This guide for couples, by the author of The New Male Sexuality, is based on interviews with 145 women ages 45 to 87.  The author suggests that many men and women are having good sex well into their later years.  He explores the myths and facts about sex and aging and present tools and techniques for older couples.

For Each Other: Sharing Sexual Intimacy
Lonnie Barbach, Ph.D.
2001; Signet
This book provides the reader with more than 50 exercises that explain how to increase sexual desire, experience orgasms with their partner, and enhance vaginal sensitivity. Chapters include “Learning about Yourself: The Sexual Arousal Process,” “Sexuality: An Ongoing Journey,” “What Is Normal Sexual Desire,” and “Lack of Sexual Desire.”

Great Sex after 40: Strategies for Lifelong Fulfillment
Marvel L. Williams, Ph.D., R.N.
2000; John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
This guide gives adults the information they need to recognize and adjust to the normal sexual changes brought on by aging. Chapters include  “The Sexually Fulfilled Woman,” “Preserving Male Sexual Function,” “Sex and the Prostate,” “The Sexual Challenges of Cancer,” “The Truth about Sex and Heart Disease,” and “Staying Sexual No Matter What.”

The New Love and Sex After 60  
Robert N. Butler, M.D. and Myrna I. Lewis, M.S.W.
2002; Ballantine
This book provides older adults with the most up-to-date information on later-life sexuality. Chapters include: “The New Love and Sex After 60,” “Normal Physical Changes in Sexuality That Occur With Age,” “Sexual Fitness,” and “Common Medical Problems and How they Affect Sexuality.”

Making Love the Way We Used To…or Better: Secrets to Satisfying Midlife Sexuality
Alan M. Altman, M.D., and Laurie Ashner
2002; McGraw-Hill.
This book includes case narratives, medical information, and communication techniques for couples wanting to revitalize sexuality in midlife. Chapters include “Discovering the Secrets in the Bedroom and a Five-Step Plan for Ridding Yourself of Them Forever,” “Understanding Aging and Sexual Response—What’s Normal and What’s Not,” and “Making Love the Way You Used To.”

Still Doing It: Women & Men Over 60 Write about their Sexuality
Joanie Blank, Editor
2000; Down There Press.
This book, consisting of personal stories and experiences of women and men over 60, is a testament to sexuality throughout the life cycle.

Books Targeting Men

The Complete Prostate Book: What Every Man Needs to Know
J. Stephen Jones, M.D.
2005; Prometheus Books
This book, written by a urologist, addresses the concerns many men have about prostate health as they age including benign prostate problems, enlarged prostates, risk of prostate cancer, and the latest treatments.  It also addresses sexual health.

Gay Men at Midlife: Age before Beauty
Alan L. Ellis, Editor
2001; Routledge
This collection of essays explores what it means to be a gay man at midlife. The essays address a wide range of topics, including searching for intimacy, coping with failing health and HIV, developing concern about social support and familial relationships, and considering the role of religion and spirituality in men’s lives.

Men Like Us: The GMHC Complete Guide to Gay Men’s Sexual, Physical, and Emotional Well-Being
Daniel Wolfe
2000; Ballantine Books
This health resource provides gay men with a wealth of information on topics such as sexual pleasure, relationships and intimacy, medical care, mental health and therapy, spirituality and community. Topics related to middle and later life include ageism, AIDS and older men, and the prostate.

The New Male Sexuality: The Truth about Men, Sex, and Pleasure, Revised Edition
Bernie Zilbergeld, Ph.D
1999; Bantam
This comprehensive book addresses all aspects of male sexuality. Chapters include “What Is This Thing Called a Penis?” “On the Road to Better Sex,” “How to Be a Better Listener,” “Touching,” and “Resolving Erectile Problems with Sex Therapy.”

Books Targeting Women

Dr. Susan Love’s Breast Book, Fourth Edition
Susan M. Love, M.D.
2005; De Capo Lifelong Books.
This revised edition provides a comprehensive look the breast. Chapters include “The Healthy Breast,” “Common Problems of the Breast,” “Diagnosis of Breast Problems,” “Prediction and Prevention of Cancer,” “Treating Breast Cancer,” and “Living with Breast Cancer.” Appendices are included.

Dr. Susan Love’s Menopause and Hormone Book: Making Informed Choices About Menopause
Susan M. Love, M.D., with Karen Lindsey
2003; Three Rivers Press
The author believes that menopause is a natural part of a woman’s life and this book provides women with comprehensive information. The revised edition offers easy-to-follow information on the often confusing research into hormones and hormone replacement therapy.

Midlife Lesbian Relationships: Friends, Lovers, Children, and Parents
Marcy R. Adelman, Ph.D., Editor
2000; Routledge
This collection of essays explores the complexities of relationships and bonds that sustain and nurture our lives. Essays include “Lesbian Friendships at Midlife: Patterns and Possibilities for the 21st Century,” “The Bloom Is on the Rose: The Impact of Midlife on the Lesbian Couple,” “Lesbian Dating and Courtship from Young Adulthood to Midlife,” “Making Up for Lost Time: Chemically Dependent Lesbians in Later Life,” and “Midlife Lesbian Parenting.”

The Wisdom of Menopause: Creating Physical and Emotional Health and Healing during the Change
Christiane Northrup, M.D.
2006; Bantam
This second edition provides information on menopause using case histories as well as the author’s life-changing experiences. It also examines the connection between menopause and a woman’s emotional and spiritual life. Chapters include “Menopause Puts Your Life Under a Microscope,” “The Brain Catches Fire at Menopause,” “Hormone Replacement: An Individual Choice,” “Creating Pelvic Health and Power,” and “Sex and Menopause: Myths and Reality.”

You Don’t Need a Hysterectomy: New and Effective Ways of Avoiding Major Surgery, Second Edition
Ivan K. Strausz, M.D.
2001; De Capo.
This book provides women with advice on new and effective ways to treat chronic pelvic pain and related gynecological symptoms without radical surgery. Chapters include “Avoiding Hysterectomy,” “How Your Body Works,” and “Chronic Pelvic Pain: An Overview.”

Speakers & Blogs

Better Than I Ever Imagined: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty
Joan Price is a speaker and author who advocates for “ageless sexuality”. Her blog includes opinion pieces, news, educational posts and sex toy reviews with a focus on issues that face many older women and men.

Sexuality and Aging Today
The Sexuality and Aging Consortium at Widener University “recognizes sexuality to be a life-long issue that affects everything about an individual from self-perceived sex and gender to the management of sexual health and attractions of the heart.” Their blog covers issues related to sexuality and aging, both for general interest and for the interest of sexuality educators.

Gray Pride Parade
Loree Cook-Daniels focuses her writing on aging and LGBT issues.  She spent a decade as a regular writer for the Washington Blade and has written for a variety of publications, including Victimization of the Elderly and Disabled, Outword (a now-defunct publication of the LGBT Aging Issues Network of the American Society on Aging) and published several books.

Get a Second Wind
Katherine Forsythe, a social worker and member of the Widener University Consortium on Sex and Aging, maintains this blog focused on the sexuality issues of women who are middle-aged and older.  As well as authoring Sexperienced: Guide for the Seasoned Woman Seeking New Possibilities, she coordinates Sex On The Porch speaking events for women 50+.

Web Resources

Aging and Human Sexuality Resource Guide
This website contains a wealth of citations for empirical evidence on aging and sexuality, summary chapters, case presentations, and resources to use for education in teaching settings or with clients. It is our hope that it will serve to further openness.

Power Surge: A Warm and Caring Community for Women in Menopause
Power Surge is a resource for women in menopause, encouraging education about the physical and psychological changes often associated with the transition from perimenopause to menopause. Expert advice as well as a user message board create a welcoming and supportive space for learning about and strategies for adjusting to the changes our bodies experience.
While Power Surge includes lots of advice for maintaining a healthy and satisfying sex life, please keep in mind that it is always a good idea to research possible side effects of home remedies before you try them out.

The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging
The National Resource Center on LGBT Aging was created by an alliance of 11 organizations from across the country.  Through a federal grant, they have set up this site to help healthcare professionals who work with aging populations to create inclusive spaces for LGBT folks, as well as helping LGBT organizations create inclusive spaces for the elderly.  This well organized website also includes a state by state listing of resources for aging LGBT people.

The Graying of AIDS
The Graying of AIDS aims to increase awareness, sensitivity and collaboration among care-giving professionals of long-term survivors and older adults who contracted HIV later in life. The site includes educational articles about living with HIV/AIDS, dealing with stigma, and how to prevent transmission. There is also a section of personal stories from older adults living with HIV/AIDS.

AARP Sex and Intimacy Pages
While the Sex and Intimacy Section of the American Association of Retired Persons website has a mainstream magazine feel that makes it accessible to folks who are not used to reading about sex. It features three major sections: Sex, Marriage and Dating. While the site is somewhat hetero- (and mono-) centered in it’s focus, same-sex relationships are not ignored, but are not front and center either. This site also features an ‘agony aunt’ style advice column that answers readers questions about sex and aging.

Let Life In
A website that deals with the realities, not the myths, of being a boomer today and doesn’t mince words or beat around the bush.  Their website includes a Sex After 50 section and a Relationships section full of articles. A notable article on sexuality is one about LGBT-friendly and/or LGBT specific living communities,where an aging LGBT population can feel safe, accepted, and cared for.

AARP Prism Online Network
The AARP Prism Network is an online message board and blog focused on issues of interest to AARP members, volunteers and staff who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or an ally.  It is a place to share ideas, resources, successes and concerns about aging, caregiving and retirement.

Old Lesbians Organizing for Change
Conceived as a way to utilize the unique experiences of lesbian elders (60 and over) to challenge agism within the lesbian community, the larger women’s community and society at large, OLOC has formed a network of Old Lesbians all over the country, keeping them connected through their quarterly newsletter, The Reporter.  They also published the groundbreaking document The Facilitator’s Handbook: Confronting Ageism and subtitled Consciousness Raising for Lesbians 60 and Over.

Primetimes World Wide
Primetimes World Wide is a social organization with over 75 chapters located throughout North America, Europe and Australia.  The group encourages travel and facilitates connections between older gay and bisexual men.  The plan to be at the forefront in seeking answer to the needs and problems of maturing gay and bisexual men.

The Old Masters: BDSM’s Popularity Grows Among Senior Citizens
This article from Rachel Rabbit White spotlights Chicago’s Sins Center, a bdsm club with an estimated 50% of their membership in the over 50 demographic.  Both veteran community members and older newbies participate at the club, illustrating an interesting trend among older americans.  This article includes some seemingly unintentional agist language, but is encouraging of bdsm play among elder folks and features advice from renowned sex-positive sexologist, author and activist, Carol Queen.

Leadership and the Elderish: Please Remember My Old Knees
This article on Leatherati.com by Deborah Isadora Wade asks for and details ways of making fetish clubs and parties more inclusive for aging leather enthusiasts.

Aging and Your BDSM Relationship
This article by Yahoo Voices user Caged Heat details tips for working around age-related disabilites during BDSM play. This is a somewhat personal article written by a white female submissive with a male dominant and that is reflected in some gender and race assumptions made in the article.

Safer Sex 4 Seniors
Safer Sex 4 Seniors is an education and advocacy site.  While they emphasize condom use, the sexology experts who contribute to the site cover a variety of topics, from sex drive to communication to long-term care.  They have a blog as well as an FAQ section and answer reader’s questions.

Shops/Toys

Come As You Are: Aging and Sexuality
Come As You Are is a feminist-run online sex toy shop with a brick and mortar store in Toronto, ON.  Their site features an education section on Sexuality and Aging.  From the site:
The biggest change when it comes to aging and sex may not be how our body responds differently, or how we think and feel, it may be the way we are treated by everyone around us, and the ways our access to partners change as we get older.
CAYA eschews the common educational tactic of listing all the difficulties you may expect as you age and encourages creating a “sexual blueprint” and being in touch with your body and how you feel/what you like at all ages.
CAYA also has a section on Disability and Sexuality with advice for working around sexuality related issues that may arise due to particular disabilities.

Silver Sex
Silver Sex is a retail website selling handmade furniture and accessories aimed at making sex easier and more comfortable for elderly lovers.  Based in the UK, they ship worldwide. They include information on the safety of their products and include free “sexcessories” with every order, from faux mink fur to vibrators. Some items require hardware installation, so Silver Sex offers a free ‘pull you up’ bed hoist to keep your real intentions discreet from your hardward installer.
Silver Sex also includes a page of information on how aging can affect our sexual health, drives and attitudes, as well as a very detailed list of current and historically used sexual stimulants. The list includes illicit substances and stimulants of questionable efficacy, but the authors make it clear that you must do your own research and make your own choices and that they are not medically trained.

Online Communities

Polygeezers
Polygeezers is a Yahoo group/mailing list for polyamorous adults middle-aged and older.

Fetlife
Fetlife is a Facebook-esque social networking site for the kink community.  The site hosts a variety of groups for elder kinksters.  Membership is free and can be anonymous, however you must join to browse the groups.