No sex at the nursing home, please!

Some time ago, I gave a lecture about the sexuality of older people, and one of the students told this story. I’m telling it here because it’s very noticeable and very sad.

The student worked at a nursing home. One day she was checking in on one of the older ladies. She knocked on the door as she used to, but there was no answer. She heard strange sounds from the room and was afraid that the resident was sick so she walked in. Then she noticed that the woman was masturbating, so she left silently and closed the door. On the door she put a note where she wrote: Don’t disturb, the resident is spending a good time with herself.

There were some of her colleagues who reacted very strongly.

”How disgusting, old sow!” That kind of talk.

No one considered that there is no expiration date for the ability and the desire to enjoy sex.


And it got worse …


A few days later, the woman was not found in her room in the morning. She had become very good friends with one of the old men, and the staff thought she might be visiting him. They knocked on his door – and there she was. They lay in his bed together: He was a big man, but she was a little lady so there was room enough for both of them. They lay close and held each other and seemed to be having a wonderful moment together.

In the middle of the floor in the man’s room stood her walker. The diaper she had taken off before getting into bed with him hung on the handlebars.

Again, some of the staff became very upset. One of the younger men in particular was extremely annoyed. Something had to be done! That kind of mess was intolerable! The man had to get a lock on his door. And the old lady had to be locked in, so she didn’t  “stray”.

Nobody seemed to understand the two old people. That love, intimacy and closeness have no age. That it’s a basic human need to feel an other person close to you, a need that can be very difficult to meet for lonely old people. Instead of being happy that the two old found warmth and joy together, they condemned their actions based on old-fashioned moral principles basically saying that old people and especially women should not have sex. We may think we live in a sexually liberated culture, but sex is still connected to youth, fertility, and producing babies.

That is a huge clash between what we believe and what we actually do. How often do people actually have sex to have children?

I was so sad when I heard this story. For it tells such a lot about our narrow-minded view of old people (women in particular), about sex, and the meaning of it. I have written more about it in my book Sex after 50.

Why do women get orgasms?

The purpose of sex is creating a pregnancy, right? And women do not have to orgasm to get pregnant. So why do women get orgasms at all?

There are two opposing theories about this. There’s not much fun about the first one – now you’ve been warned. But stick around anyway, the second one is much more exciting.

The first theory: Women’s orgasm is just a leftover from evolution. It’s a superfluous feature that has no function in relation to our survival. Such features tend to disappear over time, so in the course of a million years or so, women will not get orgasms at all. Men’s nipples, which are of no practical use, will also disappear. (Barbie’s Ken taking the lead. Absolutely no nonsense there.)

A good lover is a good man

The opponents to this theory (the fun starts now!) believe that pleasure and orgasm help women distinguish between good and inferior partners. A woman can only have a limited number of children, and every one of them is an enormous investment of her physical and psychological resources. And how a man behaves during sex may be an indicator of how he would be as a father. Is he a wham-bam thank you mam type, who only thinks about his own needs when he has sex? Or is he the type who enjoys the play, the courting and teasing and touching, and understands that his penis is not going anywhere until it’s invited? This may actually show if he’s willing to put his own needs aside to provide food and protection for the woman and her (and his) baby. Maybe this is why women in general take a longer time to orgasm than men. It gives the man a chance to show his worth, and the woman a chance to separate the wheat from the chaff.

We want sex for the pleasure

In my opinion, believing that female orgasm is an evolutionary leftover is reducing sex to something that only exists to make babies. And what’s worse, it’s also reducing women to passive recipients of men’s sexual exploits (likes of Harvey Weinstein, you know?). This goes with a picture of “natural sex” as a stone age man grabbing a woman by her hair, pulling her off to the nearest cave, where he throws herself on top of her end impregnates her, the intercourse lasting about 45 secs. And what the stone age woman may think of that is unimportant.

If you believe that enjoying sex is just a necessity for men and not for women, consider the anatomy. You will get a huge explanation problem. Because the only part on the human body that is only there for the sake of pleasure is the clitoris. And it’s located on women.

No, in my opinion female orgasm is no evolutionary residue, but a crucial feature of our sexuality. The woman’s orgasm shows that her partner has been out of his way to make her happy. And then there is a greater chance that the partner is also a good life companion in other areas.

(Bonus info: Men’s nipples are strong erogenic zones, so let’s hope they don’t disappear.)


To fake is human, to talk is divine

John and Jane are having sex, and Jane has decided to fake orgasm. Jane does not really feel like having sex tonight at all, but thinks ok, let him. A couple of days ago, he said something about how important sex was in a relationship. But right now, she’s not really up to a discussion about how often they should have sex. So she thinks: OK my friend, you get sex and I get peace.

He really makes an effort to make it fun: Different positions, licking her a little while, cuddling her breasts. But it’s not really any use, she just not in the mood tonight.

She also feels she’s getting dry and that doesn’t make it any better. It’s time to end the show.

So she grabs his hips and thrusts him harder into her. She opens her mouth, puts her head a little backwards with her eyes closed and breathes faster, makes the sounds she usually makes just before her orgasm, and then she ends it all with a loud “Ohh!” And then she relaxes. A few seconds later John comes.

“That was fantastic,” he says. “And was it good for you too, honey?”

He falls asleep quickly. After a couple of minutes, Jane sneaks under her own duvet and reaches out for the novel she’s currently reading.

A lot of people fake orgasm, especially women. Some do it every time they have sex, others only once in a while. But for what reasons?

You want to make your partner happy

Most fake for the sake of the partner. And that of course is a good motive, wanting to please your significant other. A good partner hopes that when you have sex, it should be great for both of you. Ideally, you should climax simultaneously, in a huge common climax. If you are unable to meet these expectations, you can pretend – and let your partner keep the image of her/himself as a fantastic bed buddy.

But although you motivation is good, it’s a really bad idea to fake in a permanent relationship.  You should be able to talk about things, including sex, shouldn’t you? Hasn’t Jane told John what he can do to make her orgasm? If she consistently fakes and they never talk about what she likes best, she may never get an orgasm with John. In the long run that could make their relation a sinking ship. Sex is so important to make love last and hold a relationship together, but it must be fun and wonderful and not something you just do out of duty.

But loving someone also means giving a gift sometimes. Just tell it as it is: “I don’t feel like it today, honey, but if you want to, I don’t mind giving you a good oral or whatever you’d like. Then it’s my turn another time.”

You try to turn yourself on

Some people hope that if they just get started, they will get so horny during the proces that they will reach climax. It’s sex life’s fake it till you make it. It’s actually not such a bad idea and it may very well work from time to time. If it is about focusing on and enhancing feelings you already have, it may work like some kind of training to get an orgasm.

You believe that everyone else has the wildest orgasms

Some people fake because they don’t know what’s normal. They believe that everyone else gets the most amazing orgasm after a maximum of five minutes of regular intercourse – so when they don’t live up to their own expectations, they’d better fake. They are afraid they will be seen as abnormal otherwise. Frigid was the word for it in the old days with a very negatively charged word, and that means cold. So in order to appear as sexy and sensual lovers or mistresses, they put on an act and add som extras to body language, sounds and movements.

This type of faking is not uncommon in one night stands, where the scene may not be set for a deep conversation about lusts and turn-offs.

You just want to sleep …

And then there are those who fake just to get it over with, like Jane. It’s just a little white lie that does not harm anyone, right? She could also just have said no and let John lay there with his lust until it disappeared, or he handled it himself. After all, it’s not a human right to get sex just because you want it – not even in a steady relationship.

Too dangerous for Facebook!

I have written a couple of books about sex. Last Christmas, I wanted to advertise on Facebook for my first book, Sex after 50. I had done that a year before and sold a good deal, and I wanted to repeat the success.

Things didn’t really turn out as expected. This is what happened, in a slightly dramatized version:


I start the proces.

– Dear Facebook, I would like to buy an ad for my book.

Facebook answers as promptly as any energetic seller would.

– Of course. Thanks for reaching out! Who would you like to target?

– Men and women over 35. In Denmark. And, well, let’s include Norway too.

– That’s awesome! And what’s your budget? 539 kr (about §90) a day?

– Hm. That’s a little more than I had in mind. Let’s say 50 kr a day for 10 days.

– OK then. Well, it may generate a few clicks, of course. We’re here to help you promote your homepage and sell your book! What’s the title?

– It’s “Sex after 50”.


A little red light starts blinking on the screen.


– Your promotion may not be accepted. Please read our Advertising Policies.

I click on the link and read. It says:



Ads are not allowed to promote sale or use of adult products or -services, except for family planning and contraception. Ads for contraception must focus on the contraceptive properties of the product and not on sexual pleasure or performance-enhancing effect, and they must be targeted people over 18.


A little later, I receive a mail from the censorship department at Facebook.

– Your ad has not been approved. There is adult content, which is forbidden.

– Oh come on Facebook, that is a misunderstanding! My book is very decent, there are no pictures, no porn, nothing that can embarrass or offend anyone. I would like to appeal your decision.

I wait. After a day or so, I get another mail.


Hi Ditte,

Thanks for contacting us.

Your ad has not been approved because the web address used in the ad does not comply with our policy about adult products.

We do not allow ads that promote or suggest any kind of sexual acts. This kind of ads result in negative emotions in our users, and we have zero tolerance to these advertisements. This policy also includes ads targeted to people over 18.

This decision is final, and further mails will not be answered.


The double standards of Facebook


I don’t know what’s the most appropriate reaction – laughing or crying? Feeling offended, or maybe proud to have stepped on the toes of the prissy American double standards? My book is an adult product promoting sexual pleasure. Shame on me (and everybody else who enjoys sex)!

So. Facebook supports the viewpoint that sex is for having babies, not for fun, wellness, closeness, intimacy… and so on.

So. You can advertise for contraceptives, but not for pleasure.

But wait… If you use contraception, you’re doing it for fun, pleasure and all the good feelings, right? And not for having babies?


Dear Mark Zuckerberg, please send me your address, and I will send you a copy of my book, completely free of charge. It’s called Sex after 50, and even if there are still some years left until your 50th birthday, I have a feeling that it would be a really good idea that you start preparing now. You see, people over 50 have sex for feeling good. Not for having babies.








Madly in love!

Love is so great when it’s right. And it’s so terribly difficult when it’s wrong.

If you’ve tried it, you know how crazy you are when you have fallen in love. The brain doesn’t work in its normal mode, and neither does your heart! Your wonderful, glowing emotions are all that count – other feelings, choices and priorities – forget about them. When you’re really in love, you don’t feel pain, hunger or cravings as strongly as otherwise. You don’t sleep, you lose weight. You may put everything else in your life at stake, turn it upside down, lie, cheat and let people who trust you down, just to be with your beloved. He or she is on your mind 24/7 and you are quite unable to concentrate on other things.

And of course it has to be like that, because you just know that the one you love is something special, a truly fantastic person who is good and great throughout. All you see is this person’s amazing qualities, and any less flattering sides are forgotten. Your friends and relatives may not agree with you in this, but you don’t care. You are convinced that as they get to know your beloved, they will understand you.

And the object of your emotions, this unique woman or man, is the first one who ever saw you as the person you really are, a truly fantastic person who is good and great throughout…

If love is mutual, it becomes even stronger. To be allowed to be the one and only for someone as wonderful as your beloved heightens you too. You feel that you also are a great human being, who can do and achieve far more than you have before. It’s a second chance, and your loved one will make you grow, develop, and live a new and different life, better and more fulfilling than ever before.

Perhaps all this makes you extra vulnerable to falling in love when you’re about 40? The age when you discover that you’re standing in the middle of life, and begin to wonder if there’s nothing else to look forward to than the usual daily humdrum?

If something happens that keeps you away from your beloved, you become deeply frustrated. And if you get a hunch that the emotions of your chosen other are cooling off, or a rival turns up on the scene – there is simply no greater accident in the world. Suddenly, you can kill. Maybe the rival, maybe yourself. There’s a good reason that literature, music and film are often about those things. Our emotions are rarely stronger than in this situation.


Falling in love: With whom, where and how?

Most people fall in love with somebody they have known for a while. You need some time to discover how great that person is. It’s not that love at first sight doesn’t exist; it’s just not very common.

If you are looking for a love affair, you should search for a place or an atmosphere out of the ordinary. Somewhere exciting, maybe dangerous or dramatic in other ways. That makes it particularly easy to fall in love. And be a little mysterious! People love challenges, and having to make an effort to get to know somebody always makes it more enticing.

But remember to show some of your attractive traits: A reasonably good appearance is an asset, and I mean reasonably: Being too ugly isn’t attractive, but being too beautiful can actually scare people away because they feel that they’re not playing in your league at all. I believe that beauty is more important, the younger you are. Kindness, intelligence and humour are features that become more attractive as you get older (good for us!).

At some time, you will probably want to have sex with the person you’re in love with, but it’s actually not the most important thing. Love and sexual attraction are different feelings. What matters is to be together, to be seen, recognized and loved and feel close to this special person.

One more thing is important about falling in love: the first insane, headless phase will pass. Normally, it takes somewhere between 6 and 12 months. If your emotions then change into real love or just evaporate leaving curled toes and embarrassing memories, time will show. So have fun, while it lasts!




Bonobo apes have sex that is fun and friendly

If you were a bonobo, you would have a wonderful life. You would live in old dense rainforest in a place where the Congo River makes a soft turn. It is a hot, humid and fertile spot, and you would have enough food – fruit, leaves, and whatever you would want.

You would enjoy life in the forest with your group. You wouldn’t fight, because there is enough food for all of you. You’re a peaceful crowd. And you would have sex. Several times a day, regardless of gender and age. Oral sex, vaginal sex, caressing and cuddling. Maybe only as a short intermezzo – but enough to give each other a nice time. It is your way of saying hello, bonding, solving conflicts and in general socializing with your mates.

You would not have any enemies besides humans, but there are not many of those where you live. You actually resemble humans a lot yourself – you have at least 98% of your DNA in common with humans.

If you were a female bonobo, you would probably be pregnant, or you would have a baby to take care of. Who the father is, is not important – it may be all the males in the group. You would take care of your kid until it is five years. If it’s a male, he would stay with you till you die, so you could have several grown-up sons in the group. Your daughters would leave home and find another group when they reached puberty.

As a female, you would have a kind of sisterhood with the other adult females in the herd. You would decide, for example, who should have the most delicious fruit. If you had high status, your sons would too – until you died. They would then lose their inherited position in the group, never to get it back.

What about intruders?

If you were a male and you encountered another group of bonobos, you and the other males would form a front against the others, and you would all shout and make a lot of noise. But you wouldn’t kill each other. Meanwhile, females from both groups would get together, and when you and the other males were done shouting, you would all be together in one large community group. You would enjoy yourselves together and have sex across the groups in a week’s time, only to go separate ways again after that.

The guys on the other side of the river? Well, they would live a completely different life. They would not be bonobos, but chimpanzees and gorillas. They would have to fight over food. They would not have sex with anybody in the group and not for fun at all. Females would have nothing to say with respect to when and with whom they had sex. They just had to accept what the alpha male and the others did. They would be lowest in the hierarchy and treated brutally by the males. The alpha male would kill infants he hasn’t fathered. Males would have to watch their back and always be prepared to defend their position in the hierarchy. Between different groups, there would be violent and bloody gang wars.

What can we learn from this?

If there are resources enough, it is not dangerous to share, and not necessary to have power over others to enjoy life. You don’t have to be the physically strongest individual to have a say in the group. And you can have sex with anyone without making anybody feeling threatened.

In the light of our own culture and everyday life, that’s kind of funny to think of…

Viagra – how does the blue pill improve your erection ?

When the little blue pills called Viagra were introduced to the market in 1998, it was really breaking news. At last, there was a medicine that could help men with an erection that was too weak for a satisfying intercourse. Not all men, but many.

When I give talks and lectures about sex, I almost always get the question: ”How does Viagra make erection stronger? Does it work for women too?”

I’ll answer the second question first: No, Viagra has no effect on women. It does not make them more sexually aroused or give them more fantastic orgasms. (Well, maybe if their male partners use it).

With men, it’s something else. To understand how Viagra works, you have to know a little about how erection is produced and sustained. The mechanics is quite simple. Imagine that you want to fill a balloon with water: You hold the balloon to the faucet and let the water run. The balloon will fill and get bigger and firmer. If the water runs fast the balloon fills quickly, but if there is a lot of limescale in the pipes, the water flow will be slow and it takes ages to fill the balloon. If there is a small hole somewhere in the balloon, it will never get filled.

The erection mechanics is about the same. The penis has two elongated, spongious structures resembling balloons. They are small and soft when they are empty, but become elongated and firm when filled. When something excites the man and makes him want sex, the blood vessels leading to the penis open and the structures fill with blood. If the erection mechanism works the way it should, his penis gets elongated and stiff – that’s the erection.

But it is also important that the blood stays in the spongious structures long enough to enable the man to have an orgasm. So the blood vessels leading blood from the penis must stay closed. Otherwise, the man will lose his erection too early.

Viagra only works if the man wants to have sex

Even if the mechanics seems simple, a lot of things have to function. First, the man must want to have sex. Desire is crucial to get the process started. Desire makes the brain send signals down to the blood vessels in the pelvis to produce something called NO ( although in this situation, YES would have been more appropriate). NO makes the vessels open, provided they are elastic and can change their diameter. And as the vessels must not close again too early, NO is produced until the man has had his orgasm. The stiffness itself helps to keep the blood in the penis by pressing the vessels together. So will a good strong bulk of pelvic floor muscles.

So what exactly does Viagra do? It keeps the production of NO in the vessels going, so they can stay filled and the erection holds until the man has orgasmed.

But even if Viagra helps a lot of men, it is no miracle cure. It doesn’t work if the man has lost his desire for sex. If the blood vessels have lost their elasticity and are stiff and narrowed by arteriosclerosis, they fill too slowly and there won’t be much erection. It the pelvic floor muscles are too weak, they can’t keep the blood in the penis and the erection will wane off too quickly.

So, to keep your ability to get an erection, or regain what you have had: do pelvic floor exercises and avoid arteriosclerosis. The remedy is lifestyle, again and again…

Can pink pills cure her lack of sexual desire?

My dog Emma is in heat these days. She dreams about puppies and prepares a nest for them in her basket. Male dogs come galloping up to our house, tails high, owners behind them, short of breath and carrying an empty leash. Emma will mate at once, given the chance. She wants to, and she doesn’t care who the partner is, as long as he’s male. When she is not in heat, she sneers at any dog getting too curious of her behind. She does not want to mate. It’s simple.

Marianne and Svend are a couple a little over 50. Marianne’s desire for sex has disappeared completely. She never thinks of sex, has no sexual fantasies, no sudden nice feelings of warmth and heaviness in her pelvis. She and Svend have tried so many things: They have talked about what she likes and what usually turns her on, they have gone on a lover’s weekend, bought toys, watched porn. Nothing has helped. Svend doesn’t try to get close to her so much anymore and the good talks they used to have a getting more rare. Marianne is worried and sad. It’s not simple at all.

People have expectations about desire. They especially expect it to be there, ready to supply experiences, relaxation, wellness, intimacy, and happiness… Lust and a good sex life are seen as necessary ingredients in a good life.

Desire comes from many things

Words, pictures, touch, smell, thoughts and imaginations. What turns us on and how quickly and easily it happens has in part to do with where we are in life. Stress and busyness, disease, breast feeding, oral contraceptives, a partner who’s not as new and exciting as s/he used to be, pain – these are all desire killers. During puberty, when the libido hormone testosterone is high, the sex drive is intense and powerful. During old age spontaneous lust may have disappeared and can only be enticed forward by stimulation and fantasies.

Lack of desire is a widespread problem, with a negative impact on the lives of women and couples all over the world. Hence a great deal of money is at stake for a company who can bring a desire boosting pill on the market. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has now approved Addyi (flibanserin), the first product ever to get an official stamp as a preparation strengthening sexual desire. It’s so far only tested on women prior to menopause. It’s been called “Pink Viagra” or Viagra for women, which is misleading. Viagra (for men) only works if the man already wants to have sex. Addyi is for those who have no desire for sex.

Small effect, many side effects

Dosage is one pill every day, and if you don’t have any noticeable effect after 8 weeks, you should stop the treatment. The pill can have side effects. It can make you dizzy, sleepy and nauseated. The risk is greatest if you drink alcohol, so during treatment with Addyi, you should not drink alcohol at all. A new kind of Antabus, actually. And the effect is not something that will make you see stars and fireworks. The women in treatment get a handful more sexual thoughts and fantasies, but only 10% of the women think their sex lives get better. On average, they have satisfying sex once or twice more every second month. If that makes it worth the trouble (and the side effects) taking Addyi probably depends on how often you have sex in the first place. And so far, Addyi is only approved for women who have not yet gone through menopause.

So Addyi is no miracle. Maybe it’s not at all better for Marianne than other ways of improving desire. I will come back to that later.

He still desires her. But her desire is gone.

The 60-year-old woman came to my office with her husband. She wanted to have a gynecological checkup. It had been very unpleasant last time she saw a gynecologist – her vagina was very dry and tender.

I asked if that was a problem for their sex life. Yes, it was, she answered. Actually, they did not have sex at all. It was impossible, even if they used a lubricant. She looked straight at me and answered in a matter-of-fact, direct way. She didn’t look at her husband, but he looked at her, concerned, mumbling that it had worked out well earlier, also after her menopause. She didn’t comment on that.

When I examined her it was obvious that her vagina was very dry and irritated. But that was not all. She squeezed her pelvic muscles so hard that it was impossible to do a gynecological examination and visualize the vaginal mucosa, the lining of the vaginal walls. There was just too little space. If she squeezed around her vagina like that when they were trying to have intercourse, it certainly wasn’t possible for him to enter her. And I think the reason with her seeing me was to tell the husband that they could not have sex.

Her sex life was over, but what about his?

When I told her what I had found, she actually seemed content. As I had just given her an alibi to finally drop all ideas about having sex. She clearly didn’t want that anymore. But he did. He asked a bit timidly if there wasn’t anything to do, lubricants, medicine? And yes, there was, so I gave her a prescription of vaginal estradiol tablets, the best remedy against postmenopausal vaginal dryness. But I don’t think she will pick them up at the pharmacy. She has decided that her sex life is over.

Then what about her marriage? I don’t know anything about that. Maybe they had lots of other ways of being intimate than sex. But it was clear that her husband was unhappy with the situation. What about his desire? Will he satisfy himself by masturbating in front of the computer late at night, or will he find another woman, a mistress? That is a dangerous solution. Has she thought that through?

Of course you should not have sex if you don’t want to. And it certainly can be a problem, when the parts in a relation differ a lot with regard to desire. But marriage is about willingness to compromise, more often than not. And desire can be turned on, if you allow it. How – that’s something you must talk about.

Real men exercise for better erection!

Can exercise really give you a stronger erection? Yes, it can!

If you are 50+, you have probably noticed that muscles lose their strength with age. That you can’t lift heavy things, run up the stairs or do push-ups as when you were 20. The muscles in the pelvic floor get weaker too – and this may have consequences for your sex life.

Strong pelvic muscles make it easier to get a firm erection and keep it. They help you control your orgasm and prolong the pleasure for yourself and your partner. And strong muscles also give you better orgasms, make the sensation of  the rhythmic contractions in your pelvis stronger. And who wouldn’t want that?

This is how it works: Imagine the pelvic floor muscles like a hammock that can be tightened and lifted and also relaxed. The hammock has passages for the urethra and the rectum, and for women also the vagina. When the hammock is relaxed and lowered, urine, gas and stools can pass. If you couldn’t control your pelvic floor at all, the hammock would be relaxed all the time. Both the rectum and the bladder would empty themselves without your being able to stop it.

In children and young people, the muscles are strong. But as you get older and the muscles become weaker, you may start to drip a little urine and pass some gas occasionally. You can also get a sudden urge to urinate and may not be able to reach the toilet in time. And it will only get worse if you don’t start strengthening those muscles. As you can imagine, there may be some really awkward situations here…

So how do you do your Kegel exercises?


Squeeze your muscles as if you were trying to stop passing gas

Squeeze as much as you can and count slowly to ten

Relax, count to ten – and squeeze again

Try to do the exercises twice daily and 8-10 times each time.


If you are not sure you are using the right muscles, you can try exercising while lying on your back with your knees flexed. This position makes it easier to feel the muscles contracting.

You can also try to stop the flow while you are urinating. If you can do that, you are using the right muscles.

When you do the Kegels in the right way, you can feel your anus being pulled upward towards the abdomen. Your penis will also move a little when you squeeze. Try not to squeeze the muscles in your abdomen, buttocks or thighs. And remember, muscles only get stronger if you demand something from them that they can’t do! Be prepared that it takes some weeks’ effort before you will notice a change. And then, look forward to an even better sex life!