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At 55, I’ve Given Up Bad Sex

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1 Minute Read

I’ve been doing a fair bit of thinking about orgasms and penetrative sex.

When I was in my twenties, orgasms were easy to come by. I started messing around with myself as an adolescent so I knew how to make myself come. I had my first one, while having penetrative sex, with an old school friend at the same time as he lost his virginity. Yes, you read that right. A guy who had never had sex before made me come. Can you imagine?

I remember the moment as if it happened last week. I was in his university dorm room, on his single bed. I remember getting on top of him and grinding for a bit, maybe not more than 5 minutes, and I just came. It was eventful and yet not eventful, in that it did not require much effort. OK, I might have said, “Wow, that was amazing.” It just happened and after that being on top became my failsafe position. Over time I learned I could orgasm a few other ways provided that my clit made contact with my partner’s public bone or belly. No clit contact, no orgasm. Simple.

I’m down with sex writer Jenny Block on vaginal orgasms who says, “The vaginal orgasm — which for all intents and purposes does not even exist — is not a mature orgasm, while a clitoral one is not immature. Orgasms can emanate from a number of parts of a woman’s body. But the clit is orgasm central.” True say.

I also learned that if I really wanted an orgasm, I needed to take control. I couldn’t rely on a man to make me come. In my twenties, most of my partners were fairly inexperienced and if there’s anything I’ve learned about sex over the years, it’s that practice makes perfect. I recall a lot of fumbling back then and almost no foreplay. The men came quickly and easily so it was really up to me to get what I wanted.

I spent my 30s bringing up children so orgasms took second place most night to sleep although if I wanted one, I could. I had no trouble having orgasms with my husband.

Then I hit my 40s and I got into the swinging scene. My vibrator became my trusted companion wherever I went. I started watching porn (both with and without partners) and having more and more adventurous sex. That’s when the problems began. I stopped experiencing or expecting an orgasm whenever I had sex. It wasn’t that they never happened, it just took a bit longer to get there. I blamed the vibrators. I became used to such intense clitoral stimulation, I became desensitized in the process. The porn didn’t help either as I recognized that the more I watched, the longer it took me to get turned on. If I was going to have a healthy sex life, I needed to wean myself off both or, at the very least, cut back.

I’m not obsessed with having an orgasm but I don’t believe it should be the sole preserve of men to experience one. I’m not an orgasm fanatic but I do believe it’s one of life’s greatest pleasures. When I hear some of my friends tell me that they’ve never had an orgasm during sex (whether oral or penetrative), I just can’t understand why anyone would put up with that. In my opinion, for every woman that fakes it, that’s another man that has been allowed to get away with being lazy. Statistically 1 in 3 women have trouble reaching orgasm during sex with almost 80% having difficulty from vaginal intercourse as well. Put it another way, there’s a hell of a lot of incredibly dissatisfied women out there.

Now I’m in my 50s and both my body and my choice of partners appear to be conspiring against me. One of the effects of menopause and reduced estrogen levels is that reaching orgasm can take longer and be less intense than before. This wouldn’t usually be an issue if not for the fact that at the same time I’m meeting men who, while top of their field professionally, have clearly not put their 10k hours in the bedroom. Either they’ve been with lots of women who have faked it or they simply haven’t cared. One thing is for sure; they haven’t got a clue how to make me come. Often, I have to wait until they leave to finish myself off.

I’ve never thought of orgasm as being the ultimate end game while having sex. I’m not obsessed with whether I have or don’t have an orgasm each time but when I’m with someone, really turned on and then left wanting more, I’m not happy. Sometimes the time taken to get to orgasm can be more trouble than it’s worth, especially when I’m tired or had too much to drink. At that point, a cuddle is just as good. But when I’m having sex I want it to be good sex. I expect the pleasure to go both ways. I want the connection to be total. I certainly don’t want to feel that my orgasms don’t really matter or that I’m on the clock.

If our twenties were about fumbling and experimentation, then surely our 50s should be when all the experience and wisdom comes to fruition, I want making love to be more than 3 minutes of pleasure for one and not the other. Recently, I’ve been contemplating whether I should create a manual, a sort of user’s guide to my body. Why risk disappointment when I could simply provide a set of instructions? A how-to-get-me-off guide I could send to a prospective or current partner would avoid that awkward, but inevitable moment when he asks, ‘Did you come?’ and I say, “No, but it felt nice.” Sex needn’t be prescriptive but I’d rather if a guy knew in advance that I don’t enjoy having my nipples squeezed so hard they turn black and blue. Or that the reason why I may feel so tight has nothing to do with my anatomy but simply because I’m not quite ready to be penetrated.

One of the advantages of being older is that I can’t be bothered to have bad sex anymore, not when I have a massive Rolodex of kinky memories. Life, as the cliché goes, is just too short. I’ll leave you with another quote from Jenny Block, “It’s not rocket science. It’s sex. And if you’re not doing it right, there’s no reason she should be doing it with you at all.” Snap.

About Suzanne Portnoy

Profile photo of Suzanne PortnoySuzanne Portnoy is the author of the best-selling explicit memoir The Butcher, The Baker, the Candlestick Maker: An Erotic Memoir (Random House, 2006), The Not-So-Invisible Woman (Random House, 2008) and the play Looser Women, which was performed in 2011 at the Edinburgh Festival.

The book charts her journey through a sexually liberated youth, largely sexless marriage then divorce and pursuit of a lifestyle of multiple partners, group sex, loss of someone close and being mother to two children. Parallels can perhaps be drawn with The Sexual Life of Catherine M., at least in terms of its honest approach and graphic detail.

1 thought on “At 55, I’ve Given Up Bad Sex

  1. typical predictable cliche’d experience. it’s always the men’s fault. most women’s idea of men’s orgasms is if you shake it hard enough it’ll happen. i’ve seen so called experienced ‘dominatrix’ ‘teaching’ sissies how to treat a cock and have no idea of its physiology, not even that there is more gained in pushing than pulling. men are blanket-stigmatised with having no patience, not being into foreplay and always coming before their partners. how about most women are clueless as to how to really get the best out of a man and have no patience when it comes to really fulfilling him. some women feel all they have to do is lie back and think of their particular country – nothing is more of a turn off, even with the most beautiful of women. it is not a foregone conclusion that when a man can’t get it up or come, he is completely at fault. stop talking in ever regurgitated bitter examples and get down to real education. Unfulfilled men everywhere have the same self-satisfaction, and also can feel on the clock, but where will the meeting of minds take place that enables both sexes to appreciate and take time to satisfy each other? this is actually partly women’s responsibility towards educating to find fulfilment. not the usual predictable alienating drivel that comes from embittered feminists who have always had far too much self-justification from bad experiences for a conducive respect for both sexes. and have only ever contemplated one side of an argument. this kind of drivel only entrenches that kind of narrowed stance for other women seeking fulfilment. certainly no enlightenment here from Dr Greer. the best sex comes from intimate and honest knowledge and mutual desire to satisfy, unless you get off on sex with strangers where you don’t expect to call the shots or take it as it comes – how many more years are you going to peddle the stereotypical? you don’t need a doctor to tell you that. tell us something we didn’t know.

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