No orgasm? No problem: 10 ways to great sex without one

Great sex isn’t the same now as it was 20 years ago, so is it time to redefine what works for you?

If you’ve spent years reading tips about how to orgasm, please your partner and have sex three times a week, it’s time to think again.

A survey from sexual wellness brand Lelo found that people aged 50 and older are having the best sex of their lives, but if you feel like you’re not, now is the time to take the pressure off.

What would happen if you redefined what sexual pleasure means and have the kind of intimacy that suits you now?

Two women smilingCredit: Shutterstock / Monkey Business Images

Do you need an intimacy makeover?

Kate Moyle, sex and relationships expert for Lelo, tells Saga Exceptional: There are many ways that we can enjoy ourselves sexually which don’t have to be focused on orgasm, and many people experience changes to orgasm with ageing, medications, illness and some injuries.

“Our psychology can also affect orgasm, and so if we are preoccupied, worried or anxious about orgasm, this can often ironically mean that we are less likely to reach it. There are many ways that we can be sexual – and our motivations for sex can also play a big part in us feeling like it’s a satisfying experience, for example if we want to feel closer to our partner.”

You don’t have the same lifestyle as you did in your twenties and thirties – and the chances are you’ve had a fair few wardrobe clearouts since then, too – so why would you have the same kind of sex as you did back then?

“Every stage of life throws up different benefits and challenges,” says Moyle. “For women, menopause is associated with symptoms which can impact our sex lives, such as vaginal atrophy, hot flushes and disturbed sleep. Vaginal atrophy can mean that sex becomes uncomfortable or painful, so we would rather avoid the experience.” 

Not every woman experiences the same menopause symptoms, so it’s particularly important for same-sex couples to be open about what they’re going through.

And men feel the pressure, too. Intimacy coach and sex and relationship therapist Charlene Douglas says: “You might grow in experience and confidence, but I’ve seen a lot of men who struggle with erectile dysfunction or delayed ejaculation – and diabetes or other health conditions that have an impact on blood flow can lead to problems. Particularly in heterosexual relationships, the woman can sometimes feel like the man’s not attracted to her and then the guy is panicking and the more anxious he feels, the more it’s going to happen.”

Her number-one piece of advice is to be honest about what you’re going through. “You do need to have real, open communication with your partner and look at other ways of enjoying intimacy, because it may not always be through penetrative sex,” says Douglas. “There’s a whole world of sex and I think society has told us that there’s one way of doing it, but that might not meet our needs.”


No orgasm needed: how to redefine your sex life

1 Move with the times

“Many of us view intimacy as something fixed when in fact we should always be adapting our sex lives to fit what’s going on for us at the time,” says Moyle.

And when the pressures of life hit, sex can become another thing on the to-do list. Dr Susanna Unsworth, gynaecology expert for women’s intimate-health brand Intimina says: “Naturally, libido does decline as we age, more so in women than men. There may be a role for testosterone therapy in some women where this has become a significant problem. Stresses of life may also become a factor – women in their fifties may well be caring for elderly relatives, and may have children or teenagers to also look after.” The answer is to move away from what you traditionally view as sex and take a more holistic approach.

2 Stop having sex

Yes, you read that right. “So many of us put pressure on ourselves to make sure sex plays a major part in our relationship and it might sound strange for me as a sex therapist that you don’t always need to have it, but building on emotional intimacy can be really beautiful,” says Douglas.

“Watching Netflix together, playing card games, cooking a meal together are good ways to develop intimacy. If the desire isn’t there, but you’d like it to return at some point, things like hand and foot massages are good ways to introduce touch into your relationship and building from there.”

3 Use all your senses

“A sensual massage can be great for our body. It can make us feel good and could make us feel turned on,” says Douglas. “Some couples whisper in each other’s ears to add auditory stimulation to the touch. There are so many ways to stimulate our bodies without penetrative sex. Play around with different scents such as ylang-ylang and lavender and see what they do for you. The key is to think about your five senses and see how you could stimulate those. Would you like to watch something or is the sense of hearing or touch more important?”

4 Bring in lubrication

“A good water-based lubricant is a great addition for reducing friction during penetrative sex and making sex less uncomfortable, and if you are not using condoms you can use an oil-based lubricant which lasts longer. Lubricant is also great for non-penetrative sex and clitoral stimulation too,” says Moyle.

5 Experiment with sex toys

You might be an old hand at browsing the aisle of Ann Summers, or you may have shied away from sex toys, but Douglas advises it’s a matter of individual taste. “Find a toy that works for you. Try a smaller bullet as an introduction – you don’t want to go straight for something that will hit you for six. Play around with the settings. If you’re going through the menopause, you might find your clitoris needs more stimulation, and don’t forget your lubricant.

“Try touching yourself in different ways and play around with different temperatures – if you have a sex toy you can put in the fridge, that might make your body come alive. Notice the impact it has when certain parts of your body are touched.”

6 Be kind to yourself

Bereavement can have such a big impact on sexual desire, so don’t put pressure on yourself.

“If you’ve lost a partner, you might not be ready to enter the world of sex, even with yourself, when you’re going through the grieving process,” says Douglas. “Sometimes you need to be in that space for a while. But once you’re ready, it’s a case of trial and error. We know not everyone feels comfortable touching themselves from a religious, cultural or generational point of view, but there are other ways of experiencing sexual stimulation.”

7 Turn on to sound

There’s been a boom in sound erotica in recent years – and it’s something you can build into your self-care routine. “A lot of people enjoy audio erotica such as Dipsea. Listen to stories or podcasts and see if they work for you. If you’re going to try that, create a setting for yourself. Have a nice bath or shower with fragrances or bath oils. Create an environment that’s relaxing and sensual, with clean sheets, and introduce yourself into the world of sex that way.”

8 Celebrate your best bits

Douglas is often asked about body confidence and she’s aware that there’s no magic answer, but she does recommend things you can do to make yourself feel better. “Eating well and exercising can help, and you can buy lingerie to conceal certain parts of your body. I work with clients who have stomas and there’s lingerie you can buy that draws attention away from it,” she says.

“We all have things we don’t particularly like about our bodies, but focus on what you do like. Also, be honest with your partner about your insecurities and they can tell you what they love about your body. If you don’t tell your partner you’re insecure about your belly, for example, and you stop having sex, then that has an impact on your relationship, so try and be open and receive reassurance.”

9 Love your pelvic floor

“Strengthening your pelvic floor will definitely help make sex more pleasurable for you and your partner. In addition, it is important to keep the vulvovaginal tissues healthy,” says Unsworth.

The Squeezy app, recommended by the NHS can remind you when to do your Kegel exercises – and help you visualise them. Moyle suggests Intima’s  Kegel Smart 2. “The pelvic floor does typically weaken as muscle mass and strength reduces with age, and this helps to train it,” she says.

10 Look forward to the future

Relationships change and even if you can’t imagine starting one with someone new, it could happen. “If guys have gone into a new relationship, they might be insecure about what their partner has experienced sexually in the past, so you need to communicate what you’re looking for,” says Douglas. “Just because someone has had a great sexual past, it doesn’t mean they can’t have a phenomenal sexual future.”

Hannah Verdier

Written by Hannah Verdier


Hannah Verdier writes about fitness, health, relationships, podcasts, TV and the joy of reinventing yourself at 50 and beyond. She’s a graduate of teenage music bible Smash Hits and has a side hustle as a fitness trainer who shows people who hated PE at school how to love exercise.

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