How to feel sexy after 50

  If worries about your body image are putting you off your stride, Tracey Cox’s inspiring advice from her new book, Great Sex Starts at 50, will boost your confidence and show you how to rediscover your sensuality, from lockdown to beyond.

Women are their own harshest critics

  Feeling sexually attractive means you’re far more likely to enjoy sex, have an increased number of orgasms, initiate sex more and be more comfortable discussing sex with your partner. But UK research has revealed that one in 10 women never feels confident about their If worries about your body image are putting you off your stride, Tracey Cox’s inspiring advice from her new book, Great Sex Starts at 50, will boost your confidence and show you how to rediscover your sensuality, from lockdown to beyond body during sex, compared with 3% of men. If you’re ashamed of your body and think it’s ugly, why would you want anyone looking at it or touching it?

  No prizes also for guessing what’s nearly always behind this revulsion of our own flesh and blood. We women are damn good at criticising ourselves for a lot of things, but none more so than our weight.

  Yet in contrast, does anyone reading this know of any man who thinks, ‘I don’t think I’ll have sex today because my beer gut is so enormous?’ But have you ever caught a glimpse of yourself in a mirror, thought, ‘God, I look so fat and awful,’ and felt that passing urge for sex disappear? Hmm. Michael Alvear, the author of Not Tonight Dear, I Feel Fat, says, ‘A poor body image can choke the life out of your libido. It can make you turn down sex, even when you want it. When shame walks in the door, lust flies out the window.’

A poor body image can choke the life out of your libido

Time to stop beating ourselves up

This is what women told me when I asked how they feel about their bodies post-50: 

  ‘I hate my body. I gained a kangaroo pouch after having my youngest and, since menopause, I just seem to be baggy all over. It’s not a good look.’

  ‘I haven’t felt sexy since I had children and my body acquired weight and stretch marks. My husband never gave me any indication he didn’t find me desirable it was all in my mind  but once there it wasn’t going away.’

  ‘I’m 62 and have friends battling breast cancer. I’m trying to train myself to look at my body and think “you’re healthy and amazing”, not “you look fat”. Most days I fail.

  This constant, exhausting, gruelling battle with our bodies is something most women struggle with their whole lives.

  What a lot of wasted, pointless, toxic energy! How utterly appalling that we treat the extraordinarily clever, efficient, magnificent machine that is the human body with self-loathing and disgust.

What would you prefer? Your kids? Or your old body? Everyone says the kids.

  What would you prefer? A face with no wrinkles because you haven’t laughed since you were 20, or a face that’s lined from having a brilliant time? Everyone would say the latter.

  What’s the point of beating yourself up about things like this? Not only will your sex life benefit from doing it, but your whole life will too.

Let’s look at how to stop being your own worst critic and, instead, be kind to yourself.

You need to ask yourself why wouldn’t someone want to sleep with you just because you’re over 50? There are evolutionary reasons why a youthful body is seen as more sexually desirable than an older body she is more likely to reproduce. But who decided that smooth skin was more attractive than wrinkled skin, which tells the story of a life lived fully? Why are age spots ugly and freckles cute?

  Women over 50 can be sexier than, not just as sexy as, younger women. Helen Mirren, Isabelle Huppert, Halle Berry and Lena Olin spring instantly to mind. And so do other ‘normal’ women who haven’t had any surgery or ‘help’, and beat the hell out of the Kardashian-style sexiness of today’s youth, which is totally reliant on surgery, make-up and Instagram filters.

Change your mindset, not your body 

  Dieting and exercise won’t help your body image. The reason is that our body perception has little to do with what size we actually are. You can be extra small and still feel fat and unattractive. So, if changing your body won’t work, what does? The top three winners are:

1 Having Sex

  Not all women have negative body images. Here are some very positive comments responding to research:

  ‘My body confidence is actually better than ever. I took up yoga at 50. I am flexible, strong and slim. I feel desirable and sexy, even if my breasts do still sag!’

‘I’m 49 but I still feel beautiful, and why wouldn’t I? There’s only one of me.’

  ‘My husband made snide remarks about how fat I’d become. The reason I started the affair was because this man loved every part of me. I’m the same weight but feel different about myself.’

  Having sex really does improve body image. All the women who were selfcritical about their bodies had another thing in common they weren’t having sex, even if they were in a relationship. All the women who were kind about their bodies were not only having sex, but they reported having good sex.

  Enjoyable sexual experiences make us feel better about our bodies. It’s a win-win scenario the better you feel about your body, the better sex is, which in turn helps feed a better body image.

2 Being Great In Bed

Improving sexual skills will do far more for your self-image than going on a diet. Women who know they are sexually competent rarely experience body consciousness while they’re having sex even if they do out of the bedroom.

3 Taking Exercise

Exercise will help reconnect you to your sexual self it can increase sexual desire, even in women with a low libido, not least because it results in a better clitoral blood flow. If you hate the gym, get out for a walk or do a class at home. Your sex life will thank you.

Other Stuff That Makes a Big Difference

Expect a Flicker, Not a Fire

  Some people feel desire as a huge, raging fire in their lower belly but, for most, it’s more a flicker than a flame. If you’re waiting for the fire and think anything else isn’t true arousal, you might be waiting an awfully long time if you’re in a long-term relationship. Most of us experience high-intensity arousal at the start of relationships, when we’re young. It’s rare to feel continual, powerful, potent passion for someone you’ve been with for a long time and are faithful to. It’s just not how humans are programmed. The flicker is the flame. Accept it and work with it.

Initiate Sex To Feel More Sexually Powerful

  The person who initiates sex more often is seen as the ‘sexy person’. Being the ‘sexy person’ makes you feel sexy. Shifting power changing  from being the person who waits to be asked for sex to the person who is demanding sex is an effective way to shake a sleeping libido awake.

Take Responsibility For Arousing Yourself

  It’s not our partner’s job to arouse us, it’s our own. This might mean fantasising to get in the mood or during sex. It might mean putting on some music that takes you back to when you were young and up for it all the time. It might mean ‘warming up’ with your vibrator before you slip under the sheets (even better, still holding it). It might mean reading or watching erotica. If you like porn, explore it together. That way it feeds your erotic connection, rather than separates it.

7 Ways To Take Back Control

  No one is born hating their body or being ashamed of their sexual self. Here’s how to start turning it round:

1 Take yourself off social media if it upsets you. Who really feels great about themselves after looking through Instagram?

2 If you have a friend who ridicules your body, ditch them. You should come back from seeing friends feeling good about yourself, not miserable.

3 If your partner criticises your body, do a check before you explode. If you’re pretty sure anyone would take offence, cut the conversation off at the knees by simply saying, ‘Thanks for your opinion.’ Then take yourself off somewhere where you can be alone and write down exactly how the comment made you feel.

4 Think about the other things your partner says that you don’t like hearing. Then, when you’re calm, tell them you need to have a serious talk. Say, ‘When you said X, this is how I felt.’ Then keep going. If you feel you’ve got through to them, drop it. If there’s a repeat after that and you’d like to give them a second chance, issue a warning. One more and you’ll walk. Then do it. If you can’t for the kids’ sake or for financial reasons, get a trusted person to intervene and help them see sense or seek help from a relationship counsellor.

5 If something is not making you happy, toss it out. Like your too-small underwear or that dress or pair of jeans that make you feel guilty because you never did drop a size to fit into them. Buy clothes that are the right size and feel comfortable to wear.

6 Have self-compassion. What would you say to a best friend who was constantly putting herself down? You’d tell her to stop, and give her compliments. Do it to yourself. Be your own best friend, not your worst critic.

7 Write down every compliment anyone gives you about how you look everything from ‘Your eyebrows look great’ to ‘You look fantastic in that dress’. Keep adding to the list and look at it when you’re feeling anxious.

How To Create (near) Perfect Conditions For Sex

  We all have brakes and accelerators when it comes to sex. Accelerators are things that turn us on to the idea of having sex, brakes are things that turn us off. Your accelerators might include feeling more like sex when you’re about to ovulate, seeing your partner naked, being in a place you’d like to have sex or having a fantasy.

  Brakes are things like the risk of unwanted pregnancy, fear of catching an STI, stress, a bad body image, fears over orgasm or not being sexually competent.

So you need to turn off those brakes to feel desire. Here’s how:

  If you know stress is a big factor for making you avoid sex, work out how to decrease it. If you’re worried your children will hear, use babysitters, friends and family to give you both time alone, or go away for the odd weekend. Be as detailed and specific with your ideas as possible.

  A lot of our ‘offs’ have nothing to do with sex. Tired? Get more sleep. Stressed? Find release by crying, shouting, running, fixing the problem. Feeling insecure in your relationship? Let your partner know how you feel and get help if you need it by going to see a therapist. Assume you’ll hit problems. Anticipate barriers and come up with contingency plans.

Also Try Thise

Makeover Your Bedroom

  Use soft lighting. Try putting glassencased scented candles on the floor. Hang an erotic print on the wall, make sure your bed is firm enough for sex and have lots of rigid pillows on hand too. Tablets and phones turned off, no telly, no clutter, no piles of dirty laundry.

Have Sex Before You Go Out To Dinner, Not After  

Who wants to expose their body when they’ve got a belly full of food?

Cover Up If You Want To  

  Half-dressed is sometimes sexier than naked but not by keeping on your T-shirt. Camisoles do a great job of making you feel less self-conscious but still look glam. Better still, grab his shirt once he’s taken it off and wear it during sex, half open.

Add Some ‘Sex Heels’  

  It’s impossible not to feel seductive when you’re naked or in great lingerie teamed with high heels. Those sky-high numbers you know you’ll never wear weren’t a waste of money after all!.

Stay On Top

  UK research looked at the positions women who had low body confidence chose to have sex in. The most favoured (40%) was the missionary position. And the position that made women least secure about their bodies? Woman on top.

  While only 30% of women regularly orgasm through intercourse (without extra clitoral stimulation), a lot of women who do get there do it by being on top and in control. Missionary is one of the least female-friendly sex positions because adding extra stimulation isn’t easy and his penis isn’t angled towards the front vaginal wall. Low body confidence makes women choose a position that’s almost guaranteed not to make them orgasm and ignore the position that’s most likely to. Lose-lose…

Stop Thinking Badthings About Your Body During Sex

Focus On How You’re Feeling 

Sex is about what’s happening on the inside, not the outside. Focus inwards, not outwards.

Look At Your Partner, Not Your Body 

Look into their eyes it’s sexy. Look at their body, not yours.


  You don’t have to talk dirty unless you want to. Just say ‘I like that’, ‘That feels great’, ‘God, you look hot’. Moan, groan, compliment. You’re in the moment when you’re talking, not worrying about how you look.

Get Active 

  Move around. Take control. Do something to them, don’t just lie back and let them do things to you. The more active and involved you are in sex, the less time your brain has to get paranoid.


  If looking at your partner doesn’t work, close your eyes and escape into a fantasy that casts you in a positive role. Lose yourself in it.

Don’t Fool Yourself  

  You have to want to feel sexy to feel sexy. You may be pretending you’re trying everything in the hope that it will work. When, really, you’re trying to prove that nothing will work to help you. That’s a waste of time. If you seriously don’t want to be sexual any more, then shift your efforts into making sure your life, and your partner’s, if you have one, is happy sex-free.

Feelingdesired Beats Orgasm

  Research shows women’s sexual satisfaction increases when they know their partner is attracted to them. This means two things. First, your partner needs to know how important it is to tell you regularly that they find you sexy and attractive. Not ‘You look nice, dear’ but ‘You look hot!’. Second, when they say it, you need to believe them. Unless you believe you’re sexy and attractive, what they say won’t make a difference.

  This extractis from Great Sex Starts at 50: How to Age-proof Your Libido, by Tracey Cox (£12.99, Murdoch Books), out now.


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