Never too old for sex toys

After the launch of an online sex shop aimed at the over-50s, we speak to experts about why you shouldn’t shy away from sex toys.

Who’s heard a teenager say: “Eww, gross, they’re too old to have sex anymore!”? All of us – and we probably said the same thing ourselves when we were younger.

But it’s far from true that older people don’t have sex. And as the conversation around over-50s having sex has become normalised, older generations are exploring their sexuality with more confidence than ever.

A report in The Lancet showed that, in a study in England, 86% of men and 60% of women aged 60-69 said they were sexually active, as did 59% of men and 34% of women aged 70-79. And 31% of men and 14% of women aged 80 or older were as well.

Even 10% of people older than 90 reported being sexually active in a Swedish study.

Another report showed that being sexually active in older adults led to a greater enjoyment of life. Hurrah! So, why are many older adults still not fulfilling their sexual needs?


Some issues may be contributing to your problems

Suzanne Noble, a sex and relationships expert who hosts the Sex Advice for Seniors podcast, says that medical conditions and lack of information often contribute. “I’ve noticed that many women struggle with issues such as vaginal atrophy [drying and thinning of the vaginal wall] and lack of libido or desire, and very little information exists to support them. These are the women I hear from who may have decided that sex is no longer interesting to them.

“Men also have their issues, but it feels as if they are a priority when it comes to being dealt with – hence the availability of Viagra, Cialis and similar drugs.”

How the menopause can affect your sex life

And let’s not forget the issues that can arise with sex during and after menopause. Serena Novelli, a sex, love and relationship expert, says: “Menopause can introduce various challenges to a woman’s sex life. Physiological changes, such as decreased oestrogen levels, can lead to vaginal dryness and reduced blood flow, causing discomfort during intercourse. Hormonal shifts can also lead to decreased libido and changes in sexual response.” 

The good news is, sex toys are helping the over-50s reignite their passion for sex. In fact, Noble launched an online portal with sex toys and books, specifically aimed at this age group.

“The more powerful a sex toy is, the more desensitised a woman becomes to it, making it more difficult for a woman to achieve orgasm,” says Noble. “People want sex toys that are simple to use and effective. Nobody really needs a toy that requires a 100-page manual to operate. Many of the modern vibrators seem to be fully loaded with functions that appear to be there more for a unique selling point, rather than a genuine purpose.”

Don’t be scared of sex toys

But what if you’re apprehensive about using sex toys – on your own or with your partner? Novelli sees this with some of her clients.

“Attitudes towards sex toys vary widely depending on the client’s sexual history and experience, especially in their 50s and beyond. Most women will be open to exploring the use of sex toys to enhance their intimate experiences.

“As a sex coach specialising in female sexuality, I find that education and de-stigmatisation play crucial roles in helping clients feel more comfortable when navigating a web shop or high-street shop.

“Addressing their concerns, providing information about reputable sources and discussing the potential benefits of incorporating sex toys into their intimate lives can help alleviate apprehensions and empower them to make informed decisions that align with their desires and needs.”

Novelli recommends the Self Love range at Ann Summers to ease people into the world of sex toys.

Times are changing

Noble has also noticed that attitudes towards sex have changed in the over-50s, with relationships often taking on a new dimension later in life. “I have noticed a growth in people over 50, many recently divorced or separated from their partners, wanting to explore a different style of relationship than they may have had.

“For some, that may mean having multiple partners with whom one has a casual or same-sex relationship. I have recently returned from Cap D’Agde in France, the world’s largest naturist village, with a large percentage of over-50s who would identify themselves as swingers.

“Many of the couples I spoke to were in their second marriage, and they all seemed keen to point out how different their current relationship was from their previous one. That is, they felt freer, more open and more adventurous.”

And sex toys could well enhance the experience of sex in older adults, bringing more pleasure and fun.


Novelli offers this advice to those looking to introduce sex toys into their lives: “Take time to explore your own body and discover what feels pleasurable to you. This self-awareness can guide you in choosing sex toys that align with your preferences and sensitivities.

“Understanding your body’s changes and needs as you age is empowering.

“Invest in high-quality sex toys from reputable retailers or brands. These products are often made from body-safe materials and designed with user comfort in mind.”

Find more advice

There are many aspects beyond the menopause that can affect your sex drive, something that the Family Planning Association is aware of. It’s created a guide with lots of advice about sex for the over-50s with regards to sex, including bereavement, illness and STIs. It’s aimed at all couples, whatever their sexual orientation, and includes a wealth of contacts for help and advice.

Serena Novelli’s top five sex toys to try

If you’re a little unsure about the plethora of sex toys out there, these ones, recommended by Novelli, will ease you into the world of self-pleasure…

Self Love Massage Wand, Ann Summers – “Stimulating your erogenous zones with the Massage Wand can generate a sexual response such as relaxation, erotic fantasies and arousal that leads to an orgasm,” says the website.

My Viv Pebble Personal Massager, Ann Summers – The Pebble Personal Massager is designed to sit in the palm of your hand, allowing for targeted stimulation.

Self Love Rabbit, Ann Summers – Explore dual stimulation with the smooth, soft vibrating shaft for internal pleasure and vibrating rabbit ears for external sensation. 

Lelo Sona 2, Jo Divine – The silicone absorbs sonic waves and pulses and transmits them back to the clitoris. These waves stimulate the internal and external parts of the clitoris, gently teasing and caressing you to an all-consuming climax. 

Glass Dildo for trauma release, Jo Divine – Perfect for beginners, this elegant glass massager features a tapered tip to ease insertion and a pronounced head that hits all the right spots.


Written by Michaela Twite she/her