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Libidos and Vibrators, Oh My! This Is What a Woman's Aging Sex Drive Looks Like

In the words of Gloria Steinem, a dwindling libido makes a woman's mind 'free for all kinds of great things'.

The ups and downs of female  sex drives are rarely discussed, nevermind celebrated by powerful figures. So when  Gloria Steinem, on the eve of her 80th birthday,  boldly declared that she felt a dwindling libido to be a "terrific advantage", we decided to take the conversation a step further. In just 24 hours, nearly 300 women of all ages  responded to our call. Many echoed Steinem's sentiment, telling us about the freedom that a low sex drive provides. Others vehemently disagreed, insisting that their sex lives have only improved with age. Everyone was very, very forthcoming:

Women in Their 70s:

Zero interest in locating a sex partner is very liberating. Sex with a person can be complicated and is hard work and, in my experience, rarely worth the energy. Sex with my Hitachi is more rewarding, less complicated and not nearly as exhausting. A date with my vibrator is at my convenience, it's exhilarating, and it's reliably great exercise. Sex is not complicated when no other humans are involved – and far less risk. – Jean, 73, US

Older women become invisible. I feel more in tune with men at least 10 years younger than myself. That is the problem as middle-aged men go for women in their 40s: women in their 70's don't stand a chance! – Ann, 70, US

It hasn't changed at all! But reliable and "performative" partners are difficult to find! Pity the prejudices of a mature woman dating a (much) younger male! It seems that the other way around is fine! – Rajani, 70, Portugal

For me, diminished libido is yet another manifestation that my time has past. Outliving my vitality has not made me feel happy, free or wise. Dwindling libido can assuage somewhat the grief of persistent loneliness. Yes, it is a kind of blessing. – Carole, 70, Illinois

Women in Their 60s:

They do say that sex is mostly in the head; I spent 40 years worrying about my 'failure' to get it right. Instead of relaxing and understanding my body – and my responses to men – I went for 'OK' instead of waiting for 'spectacular'. Now I've met a lovely man (I'm over 60), and sex is better and more frequent than it ever was. My libido is flourishing, thank you very much!  – Trisha, 61, UK

I feel like I was trapped by my enthusiastic response to men my whole life. As though I was addicted to drugged. Now I'm free. It's a great feeling.  I wasted so much of my life being obsessed with men. A vast waste of time.  – Clare, 62, London

My lack of sex drive has been enormously liberating. I look back with some regret at the years I wasted on men. I've recently, at age 60, completed a BSc in Computer Science and now work as a software engineer. Such an amazing world to discover, so little time. ... The hardest part is getting used to what I see in the mirror, and watching people react with revulsion to my ageing face.  – Debra, 63, Ireland

My sex-drive is considerably lower – what a relief!  No more chasing rainbows that turn into hell-holes. No more longing and yearning. No more not feeling good enough. I feel free. I feel that I'm doing what's important to me.  I've had loads of great sex in my life, but I don't need it all the time, and I'm glad I don't need it now when it would be harder to find.  – Maxine, 65, UK

I had both my ovaries removed at 51. My libido plummeted. I had zero sex drive until my gyno prescribed testosterone cream. It made a huge difference. I recently fell in love with a man who is 73 and I'm having the best sex of my life and am multi-orgasmic for the first time. Hooray senior love.  – Linda, 66, New York

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