I am in a new relationship with a woman who will be 65 soon. I am 63. She has confided in me about vaginal dryness and the pain it has caused her. When she talks about it, I can see the pain experience is genuine. I get the feeling that she feels dread whenever our play together gets sexual. The thought of causing her pain in that way saddens me and the thought that I might never have a complete relationship with her because of her fear of pain breaks my heart. I have read quite a bit about the subject and the many ways to improve it, some of which she already does, like lubricants during the week. I still see dread in her eyes and sense she would rather accept a sexless relationship than work with her significant other to improve her condition so that we can experience that special sexual closeness. I’ve told her that I would not hurt her, meaning no intercourse until she felt safe to do so. How do you open the dialogue to discuss outer course options while not creating feelings of inadequacy or disappointment? I love this woman and want us to experience all that intimate relationships have to offer before we get old.


  • Michael Castleman says:

    She is far from alone. Vaginal dryness is extremely common among women over 60, the rule, not the exception. If she feels inadequate or disappointed in herself, I would urge her to see this as it really is, another completely normal, to-be-expected aspect of aging. She’s totally normal.

    For some women, lubricants don’t provide much relief, hence her visible feelings of dread.

    Vaginal dryness is one of the reasons most older couples stop having vaginal intercourse. It’s uncomfortable for women and even with the drugs, many men over 60 can’t raise erections sufficient for it. So older couples switch to the moves still comfortably available to them. Fortunately, those options—hand massage, oral sex, and toys—can feel marvelous. Many lovers of all ages prefer oral to vaginal intercourse, and the numbers increase as lovers grow older.

    I would urge you to try “outercourse” for six months and see how it feels. It may feel awkward or like something’s missing for a while. But after a few months, as you play with extended massages, lots of cunnilingus and fellatio, a vibrator and maybe other toys, I bet the dread disappears from her eyes as the two of you enjoy a bright erotic future.

    For more, you might like my low-cost article, Great Sex Without Intercourse.

    Finally, if her dread isn’t just about dryness, if it’s about sex in general, a sex-phobia, then I’d suggest a sex therapist. For more about it, read my article, or see the movie, “Hope Springs,” with Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones. To find a therapist near you, visit the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists, the Society for Sex Therapy and Research, or the American Board of Sexology.

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