Feature Archive

Safe Sex for Grown-Ups

The questions you can't afford not to ask if you're dating after 50.

By Jennifer Soong
WebMD Feature

Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

When dance instructor Joan Price of Sebastopol, Calif., met the love of her life at 57 in her line dancing class, she was already wise to the steps and spins of modern dating, especially when it came to sex. She had been dating for years following her divorce, mostly short-term relationships, and was always careful to use condoms in bed.

Price, author of Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty, explains that when she and her now husband were ready to get intimate, she asked him point blank: "Shall I get the condoms or will you?"

Not all single women or men over 50 are so forthright. Some, perhaps divorced or widowed, find themselves newly single after years of marriage. The last time they had to deal with meeting potential partners, they were more worried about getting pregnant than catching sexually transmitted infections (STIs) like herpes and (HIV). So talking openly about safe sex and a partner's past may be unfamiliar territory for the over-50 crowd.

Even if it's not making the evening news or getting featured in a trendy sitcom, the sex life of the 50-plus set is alive and well. "Society's view of aging women as sexless is wrong, wrong, wrong," Price writes. "Many of us are having the best sex of our lives. We're the Love Generation. We practically invented sex."

No Time to Play Coy