A few days ago my friend and i were at a cafe when our laughter caused a bunch of teenage boys to turn their backs. ‘Ugh,’ I heard one of them whisper. ‘They’re talking about sex. At their age!’

We, sixtysomethings, were left in no doubt of her emotions on the topic by her expressions of sorrowed dismay.

Our discussion, a post-mortem of my friend’s ‘night before’, had ventured into territory assumed to belong exclusively in a world inhabited by the young and beautiful. It was a place that is not accessible to people my age.

It’s true that single women are the best age to have sex, according to a survey.

Although, in my experience, I’d say the best sex is to be found within a long and trusting relationship whatever your age, a healthy sex drive in your 60s is really not unusual. No matter what your situation, I believe sex is great at any age.

I speak as someone who met her beloved husband — Bob, the love of my life — when I was 19. After spending my teens in casual relationships and experimenting with the world, I learned the differences between having sex, making love, and simply having sex. It’s amazing what the difference is!

Deborah Dooley (pictured)

Deborah Dooley (pictured). Despite what you may think, the best age for single women to have sex is 66.

Through our long three-decade-long partnership, I discovered the pleasure and importance of trusting one another. The importance of being able to laugh, cry and give and receive the kind of pleasure I hadn’t really known existed. It was almost as though a limb had been taken from me when he suddenly died in 2016 just three months after his 65th Birthday.

We had a great relationship with our partner, Sex. Through our baby years, and even when we had three small children, there was always time to be with each other.

The lack of intimacy was something I would miss the most about my Bob-shaped life. I had lost so much already — did I have to lose that, too?

I’m 63 years old and I will soon be a grandmother. I wasn’t ready to give up that part of my past.

Three years passed before I was ready to try a new kind of relationship. Bob was a friend of his friend. And no, it didn’t feel ‘wrong’ or disrespectful to my husband at all: Bob was never the kind of person who would want anyone to feel guilt on his behalf.

Although the sex was enjoyable, it was sub-par. It was strange to be able to sleep next my partner after 35 years of being with him. Bob was slimmer, more muscular, and much heavier than me.

In the end, however, I realized that my expectations needed to be altered. It was a wonderful experience to have enjoyed a loving, long-lasting relationship that included a satisfying and fulfilling sex life.

Yes, I want the entire package: Love, intimacy, safety, closeness, and a fizzing sexual life. But given the choice of all that or a sexual desert, I’ll willingly compromise.

It is the most intimate feeling there is, and it’s hard to find a better one than snuggling up to your partner. It is the intimacy between skin and skin. As you lay, with your legs intertwined, secretly smiling at the memories of past pleasures.

You will never forget the intensity of your sensations. It’s a glow.

Although, in my experience, I’d say the best sex is to be found within a long and trusting relationship whatever your age, a healthy sex drive in your 60s is really not unusual. And whatever your circumstances, I think sex at this age is absolutely great. Pictured: File image of Catherine Deneuve in Belle de Jour

Although, in my experience, I’d say the best sex is to be found within a long and trusting relationship whatever your age, a healthy sex drive in your 60s is really not unusual. I believe sex is great at any age, regardless of your situation. Picture: Catherine Deneuve, Belle de Jour.

When women have sex frequently, I know it immediately. There is a radiance to their complexion that can’t be bottled. They have a spring in their steps, and a sharpness around them.

And, indeed, when I embarked on that first relationship after Bob died, a very dear friend asked me if I’d had sex (I had).

‘I can tell,’ she said.

I didn’t need to look in the mirror to know that I glowed. I felt beautiful, desired, cherished — all the things that make women exude sexiness and confidence. My body was more than my friend. It was not there to do my work, but also as a source for pleasure and joy.

Experts are unanimous in their belief that sex can be good for you both physically and mentally. Sex is good exercise — and a study by Dr David Weeks at The Royal Edinburgh Hospital found that people who have sex up to three times a week can look up to ten years younger than those who make love less frequently.

You may also find it helps keep your mind sharp. Scientists from the Netherlands have found that people who regard sex as unimportant score lower on problem-solving tasks than those who think sex is important.

Like any other study, it’s difficult to determine if people’s perceptions of sex cause their brains stay healthy.

An alternative explanation would be that people in relationships are more likely to consider sex important, and it is actually someone’s relationship status that influences the health of their brain.

Regardless, it’s fascinating.

Even though my initial relationship with Bob was a failure, I still have a lot of sex and am determined to continue it.

While I know I’ll never again have the intimacy I had with Bob, I will always hope for something similar. I felt arms wrapped around me and it grew slowly to a close embrace. We are now ready to move on to the next phase. The long gaze filled with promise and the soft, smooch of a lover.

For anyone citing age, tiredness and consequent low libido as a reason for a rubbish sex life, I challenge the parents among us to cast their minds back to the exhaustion of the early days of parenthood — endless broken nights and the ever-present need to attend to the hunger, hygiene and tactile needs of a small person.

Deborah likened her friend describing striking up a new flame as a Shirley Valentine moment. Pictured: A scene from the film Shirley Valentine

Deborah described her friend’s experience of meeting a new person as being a Shirley Valentine moment. Pictured: Shirley Valentine scene 

This feeling can be compared to the well-rested, freshened up and anointed skin. Enjoy a glass (just one) of wine, snuggle up with your loved one and spend a couple of hours together. Now tell me sex is so much better when you’re young.

Other benefits to having sex in your 60s include: It’s hard to not weep when I recall my hypercritical evaluation of my thirtysomething, port-breasted naked reflection. It was my love for a man who cared and showed appreciation of me that helped me love myself.

However, this is just a result of the ageing process. You also feel. . . well, if you don’t like what you see, chaps, then look elsewhere.

We get bolder as we age and are more inclined to try new things. And this in turn leads to more enjoyment and more confidence — a rather delicious circle of intimacy that just keeps on getting better.

A dear friend of mine, divorced for over 20 years, fell head over heels in love — and lust — at 66, recently.

‘The first time we slept together, he told me how beautiful I was naked,’ she confided, eyes sparkling. And then, in a superbly Shirley Valentine-esque moment, she leaned in and whispered, ‘You know that saggy bit around the top of your thighs?’

It was a difficult decision to admit that I knew that particular area.

Tinder and the like isn’t for me, but if you’re a sixtysomething who feels drawn to dating sites, then why not? (stock image)

Tinder and the like isn’t for me, but if you’re a sixtysomething who feels drawn to dating sites, then why not? (stock image).

‘Well, he stroked it. For ages!’

These two are happily married and happy twenty-two years later. A friend of mine tells me that her sex lives have never been more fulfilling. She has also counselled me to expect nothing less — and she is right to.

Survey results from 2013 show that 71% over-50s consider themselves to have had a positive sex experience. This is an increase of 65 percent from 2007’s survey. Post-menopausal women report being more sexually active than ever before. As any sixty-something woman will know, insecurity is decreasing and confidence grows.

‘Now I know that I’m just as entitled as anyone else to have an amazing sex life,’ said another acquaintance of mine recently, ‘even though I’m not young and gorgeous. And as a result, it has become even better.’

This particular friend also lost her husband some years ago and has coped with her grown-up children’s obvious distaste for her rediscovered enthusiasm for sex by simply explaining to them that, as well as being their mother, she is still a vibrant woman with desires. They have agreed to this because she said they loved her and wanted her happiness.

Sarah McCloughry is a psychotherapist with a particular interest in women’s sexual health. She says: ‘Women in their 60s have inevitably grown to know their bodies very well. And they have come to terms with the fact that being less than perfect — as we all are — should be no barrier to enjoying a fulfilling sex life. For which, being the age I am, I give frequent thanks.’

Freed from society’s expectations and our own self-imposed expectations, there really is no reason why people in their 60s should not enjoy a healthy sex life. Sarah states that it doesn’t matter if you feel good about it. ‘And try not to let anyone else’s perceptions of who should be doing what at any age affect your decisions on how to live your life.’

Bob showed me that humor is one of my greatest aphrodisiacs. He taught me to give in to the urge to giggle at certain moments during sex — something that many might believe to be unromantic or ‘spoiling the mood’.

Unquestionably, one of the benefits of getting older includes a greater awareness and confidence in your body. This increases pleasure and sensation.

The warm memory of that first sexual encounter after Bob had gone is still very much with me — the joy of discovery combined with the bitter sweetness of what I’d lost. Maybe I will never be in love with anyone again. For many years, however, I look forward to good sex.

In fact, I don’t just hope, I expect that to be the case. Tinder and the like isn’t for me, but if you’re a sixtysomething who feels drawn to dating sites, then why not? You can do whatever works best for you. You can enjoy sex just for the sake of it.

I am asexual, even without all the facts and figures to prove it. It’s good for you. It feels great. This is part of living a healthy, happy life regardless of your age.

This is evident.