Sunday, February 22, 2009

"Not only bone dry, but I have shrunk"

My blog posts are occasionally republished with my permission on and*. I thought you'd be interested in a reader question on Eldr and my response:
Have any women readers had this problem? All sorts of hormonal treatments and creams and oils have failed. I am not only bone dry, but I have shrunk. Just when Viagra has done wonders for my husband, I am unavailable. I want so badly to get back what we used to have and be his partner again. We have tried alternative acts, but it just isn't the same. He seems to feel that affection should lead to sex, so we are losing the intimacy we used to have. There are all kinds of dildos and vibrators for women. Are there any fake receptacles for men that we could use? I could use suggestions and advice. My next step is to ignore my embarrasment and try to ask at a "toy" shop.
Thank you for posting these questions -- I know other women are hungry to know the answers, too.

You related many things you tried to resolve the dryness and shrinking (vaginal atrophy), but you did NOT say whether you consulted your physician. This should be your first step -- get the hormone tests, find out what's going on. If you don't want to go on full-out HRT, you might want to use an estrogen ring which is inserted in the vagina.

You definitely want to use a lubricant -- I advise you to try sample sizes of several types until you find one with the degree of slickness and comfort that enhances your pleasure. My personal favorite is Liquid Silk, available from A Woman's Touch, which is also a fabulous educational resource, and even from Amazon.

My book, Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty, offers a number of self-help strategies for just the kinds of problems you relate, and my new book (in progress!) will offer more.
As for whether there are "fake receptacles for men," yes. They're called "penis sleeves" and you can find a varied selection at Good Vibrations.

I've mentioned two of several woman-friendly sex shops that offer trustworthy educational resources as well as sex toys, lubricants, and other products that solve many of the problems we face at our age. Both Good Vibrations and A Woman's Touch have both brick-and-mortar and online stores staffed with people who know how to advise us (at all ages) and care about our comfort and pleasure. (No sleaze, dark corners, or sticky floors, in case that's what you pictured when you thought "toy shop.")

*October 2009 update: It is with great regret that I have asked to remove all my content. If you've been there lately, you'll see the comments have been overrun by spam. Unfortunately, this high-quality publication and website fell victim to inadequate funding, and although past content remains, the site isn't being maintained. I hope ELDR readers will continue to come here for news and views about sex & aging.


  1. I am aware of this issue and it recently is something that I've experienced. I'm a 33 year old man and have developed a relationship with a 62 year old beautiful woman. We very recently became sexually intimate and I noticed a difference in intercourse compared to past younger partners. I'm not really sure how to discuss it with her because she seems to be enjoying the lovemaking immensely. And~ I am too...but things generally...anatomically...seem smaller...and drier. We decided not to use condoms because pregnancy and disease is not an issue. But I certainly am having a hard time having an orgasm during intercourse. I'm gingerly considering bringing it up~but we've only made love once...and I don't want to upset her.

  2. Hopeful, thank you for writing. Yes, bring it up -- not in a comparative way, but to say, "I'm just getting to know you intimately. Let's talk about how we can enhance our pleasure together."

    Then, if she's receptive, you could discuss whether the lubricant you're using is slick enough (if you're not using any, please do) and whether she feels uncomfortable accomodating your size. Talking is very sexy--and necessary, at our age.

    If she has trouble talking about it, make it about her: How can you please her more, make her more comfortable. If she's enjoying it immensely, she may tell you everything is great. But if you're having trouble reaching orgasm with her, you might suggest what will make it better for you. Do you want to thrust harder, but you don't want to hurt her, for example?

    I hope this begins your dialogue. Let us know how everything goes, ok? Good for you choosing an older lover.

  3. Joan,
    Thank you~you certainly seemed to hit the nail on the head. We enjoyed considerable foreplay...and she did introduce a lubricant when we were about to join together. We're both slender built people, and she did want to make love with her on top. I was certainly fine with that. The whole trouble came in for me because I felt...and she did tell me...that I was hurting her a little bit when I began to thrust. And we tried missionary...and I wasn't able to thrust in a way that would allow me to orgasm. I wasn't able to climax from intercourse, and she didn't tell me that she was disappointed about that because she wanted us to share that intimate moment together. I suppose that it might not ever feel perfect and that I should try to learn to enjoy a slower more subtle form of penetration as I've read that many older couples enjoy.

  4. Hopeful, thank you for continuing our dialogue. Yes, you absolutely need to talk about this and find positions that work for both of you.

    Has it been a long time since she's had intercourse? It might take some compromises for a while -- maybe she can bring you to orgasm in other ways while she's adjusting to intercourse again.

    Find out if it's your girth or depth that is uncomfortable. If depth, you can hold your penis (with a well-lubed hand) so that you can't penetrate as deeply, but you can still thrust, partly into your own hand, partly into her. If it's girth, tell me and I'll give you some more ideas.

    Most important: talk to HER. Find out how to make your intimacy more comfortable and at the same time allow you to be orgasmic, too.

    -- Joan

    - Joan

  5. Joan,
    Thanks for your wonderful advice~
    We had met on a well-known internet dating site, and she had seen me looking at her profile and subsequently messaged me. I was somewhat reluctant because of the age-difference but we met and there was chemistry that ultimately became physical. We have talked...and I'm a bit more reserved than her, but she had told me even before we made love that she was a very sexual person. She has told me she has dated before since she was widowed about 10 years ago.
    As far as the width/girth of my penis issue, I am not certain that's the issue. I'm about 6.5 inches when aroused and am not very thick. I had been told in the past by a previous girlfriend that she wished I was thicker. Anyway...with my current partner, simply placing my penis into her vagina is difficult. I don't have the feeling that the muscles of her vagina are contracting or accepting me inside. When she was on top of me...she was very comfortable just rubbing her vagina on top of my penis...which was very sensual...but definitely a very different feeling for me. During missionary, I was able to push inside of her and I began to slowly thrust but it was straining for her and me too because I couldn't get the sliding feeling that I'm used to. This is just a very new experience for me...she didn't seem nervous...but maybe her vagina was? While we were making love she told me that she wanted me to climax inside of her...but I don't think I will be able to do that in a way that she might expect.

  6. It would be good for her to find and work with a pelvic floor therapist who can teach her how to relax the muscles surrounding her vagina.

    Please see my post on pelvic floor relaxation at (You'll need to copy & paste the whole URL)

    My new book, Naked at Our Age, will have a lot of information about this, but while you're waiting for the book to come out spring 2011, this will get you started. I hope everything works out well.


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-- Joan