Facebook Pixel

You Never Know: Staying Ready for Sex

By Expert HERWriter Blogger
Rate This
keep yourself ready for sex, you never know what might change in your life MonkeyBusiness Images/PhotoSpin

I had a call not long ago from a friend who’s been a widow for several years. “I’ve found someone!” she told me, with just the slightest quiver in her voice. “I’m so excited I can hardly concentrate at work.”

Of course I was happy for her—and happy that she called to set up an appointment with me for an exam in anticipation of resuming her sexual life. “I think everything’s going to be okay,” she said, “but I think I might want to come in and see you first so you can tell me for sure.”

She did come in to see me and I was glad to be able to reassure her that, from a physical perspective, she was good to go. If I am able to place two fingertips in a patient’s vagina without causing pain or discomfort, it’s a good bet that she’s going to be able to have intercourse comfortably.

But more than a few post-menopausal patients who come to my office have been astonished to discover that they can’t pass the two-finger test. Their vaginal walls have narrowed and thinned over a period of time without regular intercourse, and I have to tell them it’s going to take some work to get back into a condition where penetration will even be possible, let alone comfortable.

I run into this fairly frequently with women who are widowed and divorced at our stage of life. They are grieving or angry—or both—and, without thinking too much about it, decide that their sexual days are behind them. Don’t need to worry about that any more! But, as my ecstatic friend can attest: You never know. Surprises happen, and when they do, it sure would nice to know that your body’s ready and able to experience the pleasures of intercourse.

It’s one of my biggest concerns for single women our age. If you’re 30 when you divorce and 40 when you want to take it up again, there’s been no lost ground. But if you’re 50 and decide to resume sex at 60, it’s a very different story. You find yourself in a new relationship, you’re ready to be intimate, but your vaginal “architecture” has changed. It can be a very unhappy surprise.

Physical therapy with vaginal dilators can help to restore capacity for intercourse, but it’s much simpler—and more pleasant!—if you don’t lose that capacity in the first place. For all my patients and friends who are currently without partners, I recommend a “vaginal maintenance plan” that will help them keep their genitals healthy and ready for love: moisturize regularly; use a good lubricant; and experiment with a personal vibrator or dilator to preserve your capacity for penetration.

Because you never know.

Add a Comment2 Comments

EmpowHER Guest

You can talk to your doctor about counselling can be a good start. A special type of counselling called ‘risk-reduction’ may be offered to you – this is particularly useful if your main concern is being safe enough to protect your partners.

February 11, 2014 - 10:41pm

I could be that woman! Except that I am even older, 75, and haven't had intercourse in 9 years. I had had a hysterectomy/bilateral oophorestomy and took ERT, and later Estratest HS for about 17 years until my husband died. I didn't notice any hot flashes when I quit, but my vagina did become dry and itchy, I just used topical drugstore creams for that. But now I have met a man of 78 who says he is interested in sharing a cabin on a cruise. We have kissed, and he says I am sexy (not true!), but I know I need to get ready for this. Will any GYN prescribe hormones to be after so long?

February 8, 2014 - 12:03pm
Enter the characters shown in the image.
By submitting this form, you agree to EmpowHER's terms of service and privacy policy
Add a Comment
Expert HERWriter Blogger View Profile Send Message

We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

Sex & Relationships

Get Email Updates

Resource Centers

Sex & Relationships Guide

HERWriter Guide

Have a question? We're here to help. Ask the Community.


Health Newsletter

Receive the latest and greatest in women's health and wellness from EmpowHER - for free!