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Sexuality and Relationships in Midlife and Beyond

Sexuality and relationships in mid-life, menopause and beyond brings many changes on all levels, physically, mentally, and emotionally.  Sex and sexuality can be a subject that tends to be avoided during this phase for many reasons. One of those  is “programming”.  In many cases society and media portray menopause as being the beginning of the end, especially in terms of an active sex life. This is not true.  I know many women of advanced years who are enjoying an incredibly satisfying sex life.

Sexuality

It would be ignorant to believe that our body and hormones do not change during the third phase of life.  After all, we are ending our time as potential mothers and, effectively, our egg supply is running out.  Hormones are declining and our bodies are changing.  Does this mean the end of our orgasms and pleasure? Absolutely not!

“I think the quality of sexiness comes from within.  It is something that is in you or it isn’t and it really doesn’t have much to do with breasts or thighs or the pout of your lips” – Sophia Loren

Many would agree that night sweats, hot flushes and insomnia do play a role in sexual appetite – or lack of it as may be the case.  For many women suffering from these symptoms there may be sleep deprivation which is no fun for anyone.

So what can you do in mid-life in terms of your sex life?  A great place to start is by building open and honest communication between you and your partner.  Make sure they are listening and understanding what you are experiencing.  They may have no knowledge whatsoever of how to keep a sex life alive during the third phase of your life.  Some partners feel they need to “back off,” and resentment and lack of intimacy becomes an issue.  These emotions create feelings of rejection, guilt and sadness. It is interesting to note that Oprah.com states that nearly 50 per cent of menopausal women confess to experiencing these emotional aspects of the menopause in addition to the physical ones.

There are so many myths regarding menopause that we can only scratch the surface here.

These are some of the myths that I have heard from my personal clients:

  • My vagina will shrivel up and sex will be excruciatingly painful
  • I am no longer attractive to my partner
  • It’s the beginning of the end
  • I have peaked, it is all downhill from here
  • There is no point in trying any more, my body is going to rack and ruin

Sexuality and Satisfaction

It is interesting to note that when a woman, no matter what age, enters into a new relationship, in many cases sex is very satisfying.  I have heard this even from women in their 60s and 70s!  According to research published in the American Journal of Medicine, women’s sexual satisfaction tends to increase with age.

Sexy at 40

Mid-life women tend to know what they want and what they don’t want, and are quite happy to ask for it. Hilda Hutcherson, M.D. Clinical Professor of Obstetrics and Gynaecology at Columbia University Medical Centre and author of Pleasure: A woman’s Guide to Getting the Sex You Want, Need and Deserve, states, “In our 50s we are more likely to focus on our pleasure than in our 20s, when we tend to focus almost exclusively on his experience”.

Your sexuality does not need to diminish or end because you are getting older.  It may be that you need to make a few changes to your health, attitude and lifestyle, but the benefits are worth it, I am sure you agree.

Your health impacts the way you feel about yourself.  If you do not like your own body, then your partner will pick up on that too.  Feeling sexy and being sexy is an attitude whatever age you are.  If you are following an unhealthy lifestyle and eating a nutrient deficient diet, your libido and sex life is likely to suffer as a result.

Your Orgasm is Important

Your orgasm is important!! Your pleasure is as important as theirs. Sexuality is erotic. If your partner is not gifted in bringing you to orgasm, then teach them how.  Faking your orgasms is not helpful for either of you.

Incorporating exercise into your day is important for many reasons.  If you work at building and maintaining muscle tone you may enjoy your body more in terms of fitness flexibility, movement, look and feel and may even enhance your sexuality and the way you feel about yourself.

Giving up smoking, and stopping or reducing alcohol intake is also very helpful in promoting good health.  At this time of your life you need to be on top of your health.  Make sure you are checked for diabetes, high blood pressure or any other existing medical conditions.  Taking responsibility for your health and wellness is paramount and quite often enhances your libido.

Yes, you may find that you may need a little extra help in terms of lubrication.  There is less blood flow to those areas due to less oestrogen.  There are many excellent lubricants you can try, and have fun doing so.  Your Doctor may also be very helpful in prescribing a vaginal cream for you.

If you are feeling fatigued and tired, then communicate this to your partner so they do not feel rejected.  It is possible to maintain intimacy and affection without intercourse.  Why not allow your imagination to create loving scenarios.  An erotic massage with no expectations may lead to something else…

You may want to have your hormones checked, as these affect your potential for arousal (estradiol E2 declining).  Some women report improvements in libido by using a little progesterone cream.  There is so much help out there for you during this time in your life, please do not feel alone or isolated.  There are many women going through exactly the same as you.  Seek out the information, help and support you need.

It is also worthy of mention that if both you and your partner have no issues whatsoever about not having a sex life, yet every other aspect of your relationship is good, there is nothing wrong with that either.  Like many things, it is all about personal choices and preferences.

If you have enjoyed this Blog on Sexuality, please feel free to browse at the Sexuality & Relationships Module and Programmes available in our shop.

Have an orgasmic day!

 

Isobel McArthur

Founder of Flourish Beyond 40

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