Ask Minda Honey: Over 50? Time to Talk Lube

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Hi Minda Honey,

I’m quite a few years older than my fiancé. I’m 54, and he’s 39. And, well, I was wondering if there’s a wealth of knowledge out there somewhere about sexual lubricants one can purchase to make things easier for us ladies who are a little older. I keep seeing a lot of ads for this “hot and cold” lubricant that folks seem to like a lot, but then I also see warnings about toxins that can damage vaginal tissue and stuff.

— Lady-in-Her-50s

Hey there Lady!

Thanks so much for your question. I know these things aren’t always easy to talk about. But I reached out to someone who talks about them all day, one of the few sex therapists in the state of Kentucky, Michelle Stillwagon.

Stillwagon said that changes in natural moisture as you age are due to hormonal shifts and cannot be easily resolved through changes in your diet. But you can help your body along by staying well-hydrated and being aware that alcohol can dry you out. Your sex life is also dealing with the fact vaginal skin gets more fragile as you get older. Stillwagon said, “It can be really tiny tears, but they’re really agitating. When you have friction, when you have that good in and out motion going on with your partner or with your personal device, some people get really frustrated and it can be really uncomfortable with them.”

When I asked Stillwagon about natural alternatives to manufactured lube like coconut oil, she said because she isn’t a doctor (she’s a therapist), she likes to steer clear of that recommendation. “If you’re using a toy, I don’t know how coconut oil is going to break down whatever your toy is made of and if there’s some leftover coconut oil in you after sex, there can be some irritation” like yeast infections. And Lady, I’m sure you don’t want to swap one problem for another one.

So, what does Stillwagon recommend? “I think that it’s really important for everyone to feel sexy and pleasure isn’t something we should have to give up just because we’re aging. I encourage them to consider ways to keep themselves aroused and feeling good.” She suggested ideas like wearing lingerie under business attire and rocking red lipstick in a shade that shouts “Do Me!” And she’s a firm believer that all begins with you. “I encourage masturbation. The more we use it, the more we pleasure ourselves, to more we bring pleasure to ourselves, the more our drive is going to increase.” This can also help offset decreases in desire that tend to plague us in our older years. Masturbating is just another part of taking care of yourself. “Like walking, working out, drinking water and eating good food,” said Stillwagon. “Masturbation should be a part of a weekly ritual you have to take care of your body.”

But you asked about lubes, Lady. And Stillwagon has some suggestions there too. Some brands she likes for their performance and their ingredients list are:

• Plant-based Sliquid Organics Silk

• Erosense Sync

• SUTIL (But she cautions this brand can get dry and tacky, but initially feels great)

If you’re dealing with the tearing issue, Stillwagon said go with a medical-grade, silicone-based lube because water-based will soak in too quickly. When it comes to silicon-based lubes, the therapists say stick to dimethicone or dimethiconol, “Other types of silicon have other solvent residues in them and some can be more irritating.”

Beyond lube, if you’re in need of a day-to-day intimate moisturizer, Stillwagon suggested trying out Shibari personal lubricant. If you’re experiencing daily discomfort, I encourage you to visit a health professional. Options available include prescription grade personal moisturizers and oral supplements.

You can find Stillwagon’s lube suggestions online, but your options are limited locally. She said that Louisville Pharmacy near Village 8 Theatre probably has the best selection locally. Good Clean Love makes a good sampler pack. And the LEO is giving a few away. Head over to the Ask Minda Honey Facebook page for details.

If you need more expert advice from sex therapist, Stillwagon has a seminar coming up this fall for women dealing with life transitions and you can always book time with her by visiting her website

— Minda