The impression you'd get from looking at our culture around us (save for a few Cialis commercials) is that sex is for young people only. Take most TV shows, and you'll see sweaty young things writhing around with one another while anyone over 40 gets cut away as soon as they kiss.
But getting older doesn't mean sex leaves your life. In fact, a recent National Opinion Research Center survey of 3,005 adults found that of those between ages 57 and 64, 84% of men and 62% of women reported having sex in the past year. Of those 75 to 85 years old, 38% of men and 17% of women had done it. (We're seriously impressed.)
And those older men and women enjoying sex lives? They've been doing it for a long time. So it would stand to reason that they have countless pieces of sexual wisdom to benefit the young and the curious. Thankfully, we have these 12 women to fill us in.
Dolly Parton: God gave us the ability to do it — so let's do it
Christianity and other religions can get a bad rap when it comes to sex, but for Parton, a devout Christian, sex is just another part of how God created us. As she wrote in her 1995 autobiography, Dolly: My Life and Other Unfinished Business, we were given these parts for a reason: to use them. It's a natural part of life, and therefore shouldn't come with shame or guilt.
Dr. Ruth: Speak up!
Orgasms aren't straightforward, especially for women. As famous sex therapist and author Dr. Ruth pointed out in a 2011 interview to Esquire, it's up to each partner to take an active role and communicate what they need from the other person in bed — and it's up to their partners to listen honestly and respectfully.
Helen Mirren: Seek out what turns you on
Sexuality is fluid, and there's no reason to fight attractions. In fact, we can seek them out, as Dame Helen Mirren reminded us in an interview with the Times in 2011. What turns us on might not be what we expect, or what society tends to promote — and it may not fit within any gender norms. But being honest and seeking out what attracts us can only lead to better, more positive sexual experiences.
Sophia Loren: Sexiness is about how you feel, not how you look
As Oscar winner and ageless sex symbol Sophia Loren reportedly said, sexy is a state of mind — which means it knows no age limits, nor physical limits. A size 2 isn't inherently sexier than a size 14, and a made-up face isn't sexier than a plain one. It's not about being a certain size or fitting into some box, but about how you feel about yourself. The rest will follow.
Goldie Hawn: The best partner is someone who makes you feel sexy
Hawn has famously never married her boyfriend of over 30 years, Kurt Russell. But she told CNN in 2006 that not only is she OK not having a ring on her finger, but that she and Russell's unique, self-determined status makes her feel sexy. "I do think that it's a way of saying, you know what I don't own you, and there's no paper that says that," she said. Knowing someone's committed to you out of trust and love alone can itself be a turn-on — and a huge confidence booster.
Jane Fonda: Some of the best sex requires a plan
OK, so most of us under the age of 60 don't require pills to have sex. But as Fonda reminded Conan O'Brien in a 2014 episode of Conan, just because you're ready to "perform" doesn't mean you can always hop right into sex. That's especially true as you get older (that's when the Viagra comes in), but it can apply at any age — you're not always ready to go, in the right frame of mind or quite turned on enough to make it happen. Patience and planning are virtues.
Betty White: You're in charge of your sexual desire
As White hinted at in AARP the Magazine in 2010, sexual desire isn't something that magically disappears — or magically appears for that matter. Yes, there are women whose low sex drives are medical issues, but for many people that sense of lust and desire is something we can nurture and pursue. Getting in the mood, after all, is so much about your headspace. And that's something most anyone of any age can get into.
Martha Stewart: Don't forget about hygiene
Leave it to the home and lifestyle guru to advise us, in a 2014 Reddit AMA, that the most pleasant way to have sex is when everything's clean, hygienic and fresh.
Her tip, while certainly not mandatory, isn't a bad one: Sometimes feeling sexy goes along with feeling clean and pampered. So why not relax a little, have a bath, and put a little time into getting ready for your partner?
Joan Rivers: Talking about sex makes a major difference
Comedic legend Joan Rivers loved to joke about sex, as well as the differences between men and women. The line about the man on top and the woman underneath, a famous joke that's made its way around the Internet, might have only been intended for laughs, but it really does underscore a point: If we don't talk about what we want in bed and what that looks like, we can go a long time without getting it.
Barbara Walters: A little self-love? Yes, please!
Yes, Barbara Walters has a vibrator, as was revealed in a 2014 episode of The View so kindly by fellow host Whoopi Goldberg. We know there are plenty of kickass reasons why everyone, including women, should masturbate. But if those weren't enough, knowing one of the most respected news anchors of our time has one should do it.
Joan Collins: A healthy sex life means a healthy relationship
The English Dame and actress couldn't have said it better than she did on an episode of Britain's Loose Women in 2014. While sex may not be the single most important aspect of every relationship (no two couples are the same), it is an essential part of how we interact as humans and is proven to be key to relationship satisfaction.
Meryl Streep: Sex is about being happy
As Streep reminded us in an interview for the Talks in 2011, sex and pleasure are essential parts of having a happy life. So treat it as such, and have fun!