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Sex After 50? Oh, Behave Yourself!

September 22, 2005 By:
Rita Charleston, JE Feature
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Dr. Ruth Westheimer
When the publisher of the new book Dr. Ruth’s Sex After 50: Revving Up the Romance, Passion & Excitement told a successful, 30-something movie producer that there might be a documentary to be made from the book, the producer said, “Sex after 50? Now you’re really grossing me out!”

It’s somewhat true that none of us wants to think about our parents engaging in sex, which may account for this young man’s aversion to the thought. But according to sex therapist Dr. Ruth Westheimer, men and women can be sexually active well into their 70s, 80s and even 90s.

According to Westheimer, “Many people enjoy the best sex of their lives after 50 — more passionate, more thrilling and even more satisfying sex for many reasons.

“For example, many women in this age group are postmenopausal and don’t have to worry about becoming pregnant. Then, too, the kids have grown up and moved out, removing any fears the parents may have had about having sex with the kids in the house. And with approaching retirement comes more time for sex.”

The main point of the book, she adds, is to “kick boredom out of the bedroom. There are times when routine is all right, say when you are too tired for anything else. But why not venture out of your normal patterns once in a while? Why not move from the bedroom to the living room?

“Or if you usually have sex at night, make love in the morning. Eat dinner in the nude. Play strip ‘Trivial Pursuit.’ Be inventive.”

Westheimer says she had another reason for writing this book: “I’m getting older. I’m now 77, and starting to think what haven’t I really talked about yet. I am a widow, and I do see lots of widows. I lost my own husband about eight years ago, and I decided I wanted to say something about what women and men both can do if they’ve lost or no longer have a sexual partner, including a chapter on solo sex.

“Oh, I know it sounds a little risqué but, after all, that’s Dr. Ruth. People should never give up on pleasure — no matter what!”

‘Old-Fashioned and Square’?!
Born in Germany in 1928, Westheimer was sent to a school in Switzerland at the age of 10. The educational institution became an orphanage for most of the German Jewish students sent there to escape the Holocaust. At 16 she went to Israel, where she fought for the country’s independence as a member of the Haganah. She then moved to Paris, where she studied psychology at the Sorbonne and taught kindergarten.

In 1956 she immigrated to the United States, and subsequently obtained a master’s degree in sociology from the Graduate Faculty of the New School for Social Research, and then a doctorate of education in interdisciplinary study of the family from Columbia University Teacher’s College.

She worked for a time for Planned Parenthood, and it was that experience that prompted her to further her education in human sexuality by studying under Dr. Helen Singer Kaplan at New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical Center.

Today, Westheimer is known throughout the world, and her expertise is spread on television, books, newspapers, games, home video and more.

Yet this charming little lady who looks more like someone’s grandmother than a sex maven describes herself as “old-fashioned and square. I know people might not believe that, but that’s the truth. I do speak very explicitly about sex because I believe sexuality has to be taught explicitly.”

Just back from five weeks in Israel, Westheimer was amused when a newspaper writer in Tel Aviv wrote a headline after an interview with her proclaiming “Size Does Matter.”

“And that’s absolutely true!” she says with a chuckle. “Here I’m a German Jew; my accent has not changed one bit. And I’m only 4’7” tall. I haven’t shrunk because I can’t shrink, otherwise, you’re not going to see me anymore, just hear me.

“So I like it when others use humor as I use humor, because in the Talmud it says, ‘A lesson taught with humor is a lesson retained.’ So I hope everyone retains the lessons I try to teach.”

 

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