Many of my recent posts have been general statements on the world around me. It’s been a while since I’ve spoken with the “wife voice.”
Sex after fifty. How’s that going for you?
What about sex UNDER fifty?
Oh my, I hear you. It’s really such a mixed bag! Women in their 50s and over (and UNDER!!), especially those who are in, or have experienced menopause, have many reasons to put sex on the bottom of their to-do lists. Some of us can identify with the full range of views on this topic–in the space of 24 hours! Trust me, I’ve experienced (almost) all them all, and in great honesty, many came well before 50)! And it’s not always about us ladies.
Done: I’ve given up. Done. Over. Shop is closed. It was nice while it lasted but it’s over.
Relieved: I never liked sex, always was a chore, it did nothing for me, I’m so glad that’s over with.
Charity Sex: If I must do it to make him happy, I’ll go along. But I’ll sure as heck pretend to be asleep a lot.
Not Sure: Sex isn’t as fun anymore, and maybe I can just learn to live without it if it’s going to be this difficult. I sure hope he can live without it (not likely, ladies).
This is really sad (but I’m not sure I care): I know that I love my husband, and there was a time when we had good if not great sex. It’s just so different now. I’m not turned on by him. I can’t get aroused. He can’t get it up (then our negative head talk ensues: I can’t blame him, I’m not longer sexy, my body has taken a major hit, I’m old). It takes more work, more effort, more frustration. Maybe we both need to get some new moves on, some new attitudes towards sex, but getting a good night’s sleep sometimes seems better than sex.
I’ve only just begun: My inhibitions about sex aren’t what they used to be! The kids are gone! The fear of pregnancy is over. We are rediscovering each other and enjoying this! We’ve always liked sex, but rediscovering it is great!
Better than ever (or renewal): The above, and I almost want it more than before!! Wow, this is great! I had no idea we could try something wild and crazy and new! We welcome this challenge to find new and different ways to enjoy each other. Being naughty is fun. I never knew that it felt so good to…
What’s Changed? I’m not sure what you’re talking about… (if you’re in this category, you may not need to read further… lucky you!)
Wherever you find yourself (today, or yesterday), just know this: if you are married, sexual union is a sort of necessary glue for other parts of your marriage. It keeps you bonded and connected. There may not be the same drive to find multiple climaxes anymore, but the physical union is powerful and healing. Chances are, if you are having regular enjoyable sex, you are arguing less, and in a better mood and state of mind about your mate. That said ladies, here are some of the facts about our post menopausal bodies:
Bye Bye Hormones: For most women, 50s mark the end of ovulation, when your body stops making all of those juicy hormones it used to. The hormones kept things not only ready to make and grow a baby and have a monthly cycle, but had you physically desiring, wanting, and perpetually prepared to do the deed that leads to procreation. This includes making you ready for sex, namely keeping things slippery and supple and tight and tingly and aroused. When the hormones stop producing, all that gear undergoes a change called “atrophy” (officially one of my least favorite words or concepts when it comes to my vagina, let alone my skeleton or joints). Crudely put, we do start to “shrivel and dry up,” not a very sexy image. Hard to accept our bodies were made to wear out.
[A quick word about hormone replacement, “natural” or “synthetic:” while there may be some temporary relief to be had, the longer-term side affects and dangers are real. After two years on Hormone Replacement Therapy, I began to have very suspicious changes in breast tissue, a few biopsies and enough of a scare to put me off oral hormones. My experience wasn’t unique. Suppository hormones seemed minimally helpful. Be well informed and don’t always trust doctors who are quick to put you on HRT]
Otherwise, things about our bodies begin to change, grow looser, and less taut. Those breasts aren’t riding so high, that tummy that got stretched by babies won’t shrink back completely, and curves get droopier. Skin is less smooth and tight. Believe it or not, “that pleasurable “wow spot” in your 20s and 30s may have shifted too (i.e., clit and G-spots–a new road map must be explored)! Lots of handling and rubbing of the delicate and thinning tissue of our vulvas and vaginas can be unpleasant or downright painful, without the right amount of preparation, lube, (tongue), and build up.
As if all of this physical stuff isn’t enough to depress us completely, our flagging hormones just don’t work as well to bring on lots of “instant” sexual arousal or gratification. We can get moody, uncomfortable, and yes, bitchy. Oh, the sexual gratification can still be had, it’s just sometimes harder to find it, drag it out, and get it working effectively. In terms of turn-on, it’s been said men are like light bulbs and women are like slow cookers. After 50, you might as well dial that slow cooker down to low. It’s a car that needs a lot of warming up before it’s ready to run, and zero to 60 takes isn’t happening in minutes. In my twenties I could climax with the vibrations of the car and the seam of my jeans in just the right place. Quickies were fun. Now an orgasm is often MIA even with the most assiduous attentions to the area. And at times, we frankly just want to give up, get it over with, move on and hopefully forget about this sad state of our changing sexuality.
What to do?
You change your ways and adapt! This sex thing has shifted and changed in this new chapter of your life, and it requires some special supports and attentions. This is nothing to be embarrassed by or ashamed of. If I have a headache and I want to feel better, I take a pill. If I have itchy dry skin on my hands, I lotion up. If I have sore muscles, I have a relaxing bath or massage (with oil!). If a man can’t get an erection, he can take a pill. If my vagina is dry, I use lubrication (lots!). If my climax doesn’t come as it used to, I might try a toy like a vibrator (here’s the deal on the vibrator, and other sexual toys: your vagina was designed to take a “beating” when you were younger, including popping out babies; as we age this is not so much the case. Prolonged manual stimulation in intimate areas can get downright painful and unpleasant. Lots of lubrication and a good vibrator can fire up the blood flow to the vagina and clit in less time, and coax those climaxes along with less discomfort. Your man’s parts like vibrators too! Oh, and without a huge nag on the topic, health, good foods, and exercise go a long way to helping you feel positive about sex (truthfully, if you’re huffing and puffing trying to find your fun parts among folds and layers of fat, that’s not so sexy).
OK, you say you’re too embarrassed to make such purchases?
Lubricants: Seriously, there are shelves full in your local grocery store and drug store of “personal lubricants!” Throw it on the checkout belt with your eggs and milk, no one cares. Or, order online. Plenty of info to Google on the subject (some are silicone-based and may interact with condoms or plastics; others are water-based; flavored ones generally are not good because these can cause unhealthy pH in vaginas; “stimulation” brands can actually cause an unpleasant burn for some (think Ben Gay). The best of all? Natural oils such as coconut, sweet almond oil, jojoba, and even olive oil! Mixed with certain PURE essential oils, there can be some delightful new avenues to explore; a recent find is a drop of pure food-grade essential oil of lavender on the clit, wowzer. Research “essential oils for sex” such as clary sage, jasmine, neroli, patchouli, rose, rosewood, Idaho blue spruce, peppermint, sandalwood, vetiver, ylang ylang. I only recommend using the purest, Young Living, not the crap in the grocery store).
Vibrators and Toys: The availability on-line is endless and perhaps overwhelming, not only at Amazon.com but some drug stores.com as well; plain brown wrapper guaranteed. Purchase of “toys” requires a little experimentation, but start with something small, basic, yet powerful, (i.e., Sensuelle Point 20 function, and most “bullets.” Higher-end tend to be better, like Lelo) and experiment from there. Or, be daring and visit a Lover’s Shop with your spouse and check out the merchandise!
Variety and Novelty: Another helpful aspect to keeping things sexually alive with your partner of 30, 40 and more years is experimentation and trying new things: it could be role play, locations other than your norm. reenactment of sexy movie or book scenes, a little light porn (if this is not morally offensive to you both; hubby is understandably uncomfortable with most porn, as the father of daughters and hating the exploitation of young women; I know there is “couples romance” out there that I find acceptable– consensual and more “instructional,” loving exchanges, and not exploitative. This is such a personal decision, and only you can decide). Some like experimenting with aspects of bondage and domination. Others may want to try even more kink in their bedroom games. All that is important is that it is pleasurable to you both, and consensual.
Sex over 50 can be great, if you’re willing to invest a little effort! Trust me, it’s worth it!