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I have a problem. (How’s that for an opener?) I’m a 60-something cis woman with a 30-something cis man lover. The problem is my vagina is extremely tight. Also, sometimes I bleed a little bit after PIV and then urinating burns, but only briefly. We are only able to hook up about every other week, so frequency isn’t going to “stretch me out.” I had previously been diagnosed with vaginal atrophy, which for many women can result in pain during PIV intercourse. We’ve been using Uberlube with silicone, which has helped but it still gets painful. Any suggestions? I’ve been on an estradiol vaginal insert for three months, which helps my overall dryness but not PIV so much, although he has said I feel softer inside. I could really use some help because as much as I love having sex with him, I’m going to have to pause PIV altogether due to my discomfort. I also will say that before him, it had been 17 years since I’d had sex. I find this embarrassing to admit, but it may be information that will help you answer my questions. —Age-Gap Enhancing Intense Sexual Treats

P.S. He propositioned me. I was initially mortified but I have since overcome my ageist bias against relationships with large age gaps. Oh, and last night I experienced the “luxurious” sensation of having my anus licked for the first time!

“Vaginal atrophy is very common in women and people with vaginas, and it can make not just PIV but any type of penetration painful,” says Dr. Lori Brotto, a clinical psychologist, author, and sex researcher at the University of British Columbia. “And while Uberlube is a fantastic external lubricant that makes sex more comfortable, it does nothing to moisturize the vagina.”

Dr. Brotto says your hunch—that more frequent penetration might help—is correct, but you don’t have to wait for your lover to return to experience it.

“There are well-known advantages to regular vaginal dilation for people who have not had penetration in a long time,” says Dr. Brotto. “I would recommend that in between the times AGEIST has sex with her partner, she uses a dilator—or uses a dildo—to engage in solo vaginal penetration. She should do it at least once per week, with copious amounts of lubricant, and use it while fantasizing or enjoying erotica, to stimulate her mind’s arousal.”

You don’t have to simulate fucking with a dilator or a dildo (and a dilator in this case is just a dildo by another name); instead, gently insert the lubed-up dilator, remember to breathe, and then—once it’s all the way in—read some erotica or watch some porn. And then, if you’re feeling it, masturbate to climax. And then, when you’re with your lover, do the same but with his dick. Get his P in your V without it being about his pleasure. It’s about yours. When you do feel ready to let him fuck you, don’t feel obligated to endure it until he finishes. Only let him fuck you for as long as it feels comfortable and/or good for you, and then pivot to something else you both enjoy if he hasn’t finished.

Dr. Brotto also suggests that you talk to your gynecologist about switching to a different vaginal estrogen delivery system—there are tablets, creams, and rings in addition to the inserts you’re using—while at the same time adjusting your dose.

“She also might also consider seeing a pelvic floor physiotherapist in case some of the discomfort is arising from pelvic floor tightness,” says Dr. Brotto. “Pelvic floor physiotherapists have very effective exercises to deal with vaginal pain. Additionally, some positions can create more pain in an already painful vagina, so AGEIST and her lover should try different positions. And since the length and girth of a partner’s penis can also be a contributing factor, some couples use OhNut (ohnut.co), which are a series of rings that can be placed at the base of the shaft of the penis to reduce the length.”

It’s also important that you’re feeling aroused—not feeling dread—when your lover is on his way over. Knowing you can look forward to what works for you and makes you feel good, and knowing that he doesn’t expect you to grin and bear what doesn’t (even if that means taking PIV off the menu for now), will not only be the best way to make sure you feel relaxed and aroused, but it’s also the quickest way to get PIV back on the menu. Good luck.

Follow Dr. Lorri Brotto on Twitter @DrLoriBrotto. And you can see Dr. Brotto in the new Netflix docuseries The Principles of Pleasure, which premieres on March 22. (The first episode focuses on the erogenous parts of a woman’s anatomy, AGEIST, and Dr. Brotto suggests you watch it with your partner!) —Dan Savage

P.S. No need to put “luxurious” in scare quotes when you’re talking about anilingus!

I’ve been dating the same guy on and off for 20 years. I met him in my 20s and I’m now in my 40s. Even though we’re nothing alike—I’m kinky and adventurous, he’s extremely vanilla—we always come back together. The problem is, any time we have the slightest disagreement, he stops talking to me, usually for weeks, sometimes for months. The last time it happened was when I moved a year ago. He was helping but he snapped at me because he didn’t hear my directions, and I got upset. He didn’t speak to me for 11 months! I reached out to him repeatedly, but he only responded recently. We made plans to meet. But when I call him to ask when he’s picking me up, he says, “I forgot I had other plans tonight”! It’s an event I’m not allowed to attend, because “he’ll be working,” but his ex-girlfriend is coming. It’s fine for her to be there, but not me, the person he’s known for 20 years! I got mad, of course, and asked him to call me after the event. And he didn’t. I can’t show any disapproval without him ignoring me indefinitely, and even though it’s always been this way, it still hurts. Months of silence for something that wasn’t even a full-on argument seems extreme, and I have no idea why he does this. I’m just trying to figure him out. —Infuriatingly Mysterious Silences After Disagreements

You can’t make a long-term relationship work with someone who responds to routine conflicts—the kinds of conflicts you’ll face almost daily in any relationship lasting longer than a weekend—with months of the silent treatment. Well, maybe a person can make a relationship with someone like that work; you’ve been making this work for 20 years, IMSAD. My point is, you shouldn’t try to make a relationship like that work. You’re wasting a lot of time and emotional energy trying to figure out a guy who really isn’t that hard to figure out. I mean, the Nancy Drew novelization of this mystery would have just one page, IMSAD, and it would be the title page: The Not At All Mysterious Case of the On-Again, Off-Again Boyfriend Who Is an Asshole and Whose Number You Should Block and Delete.

Stop calling this asshole, stop sitting by the phone waiting for this asshole to call you, stop fucking this asshole when he shows up, stop thinking about fucking this asshole when he’s off sulking and/or fucking someone else. The effort you’re putting into making this relationship work would be much better spent trying to find a guy who isn’t an asshole and who shares your kinks. —DS

My boyfriend and I have been together for six years. We have a great relationship, he’s very caring and thoughtful, and we survived the pandemic together, so I think we’re very compatible. I’m in my late 30s now, and I’m starting to realize that time is running out if I ever want a baby. The problem: My boyfriend is 30 years older than me. If he were 45, he would be a great dad, but it doesn’t seem fair to have a child with a man who is almost 70. He doesn’t have children from his previous marriage, so this would be his first. Should I let go of the man I love to see what else is out there and find someone more suited to a future that hopefully includes a child? Or do I take the plunge with my boyfriend and hope for the best? —Tick Tock Bio Clock 

Let’s say you dump the old man you love—an old man who could live for another 20 years—to go find a younger man. How long would that take, TTBC? A year? Two? Because it’s not just a guy closer to your own age you need. You have to find a guy you like, a guy who wants children and wants them soon, and then date that guy long enough to fall in love with him. And then you’re going to have to live with that guy long enough to know you aren’t going to fall out of love with him anytime soon. And if it doesn’t work out—if the first guy you pick isn’t the right guy—you’re going to have to start all over again. And before you know it, TTBC, you’re 50.

As I see it, TTBC, you have three possible choices/likely outcomes to choose from here: having to get out there and find a new guy who wants a kid, having to date as a widowed single parent if your current boyfriend dies while your child is still young, or having to date as a single parent if the relationship you rushed into with some 30-something dude you barely knew after dumping the 60-something man you loved didn’t work out.

In your shoes, TTBC, I would go with the guy I’ve got—the known quantity—over a stranger I hadn’t met, might never meet, or might come to regret meeting. —DS

P.S. You don’t mention discussing this with your boyfriend. Does he want to have a child? That seems … germane.

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