Keep the Heat

NO MATTER WHAT YOU MAY HAVE HEARD, YOUR BEST BEDROOM YEARS HAVE YET TO COME. WELCOME TO YOUR SEXUAL PEAK — OR, DARE WE SAY, SEXUAL CLIMAX?

Those of you about to turn the corner and enter the 40-and-over zone (or those who are already in the thick of it) may be concerned about the impact getting older will have on your sex life. You may have questions about whether you must resign yourself to becoming a dried-up old lady with no fun to be had in the bedroom. Thankfully, the reality is you can have more fulfilling and enjoyable sex now than you ever had in your twenties or thirties. What’s more, society has gotten wind of the idea that people want to live completely fulfilled lives into their advanced years. It’s true that 40 has become the new 20, and the concept is supported by empowered celebrities like J. Lo proclaiming their eternal youth and sexual vitality without shame. So instead of allowing the aging process to shut you down, it’s time to look forward to a new and more sexually fulfilling chapter in your life.

LIKE FINE WINE

I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t trade the knowledge and life experience I’ve obtained in my over 51 years on the planet to re-turn to my twenties. Aging has positively impacted every aspect of my life – including what happens behind closed doors. With age comes an acceptance of who we are, body flaws and all. Let’s face it: we accumulate stretch marks, cellulite, and scars over time, all of which could send us into a meltdown if we stressed out about them. At this age we have more likely become more comfortable with who we are, which translates to greater body confidence. That body confidence works to our advantage in the bedroom because we no longer feel uneasy or ashamed of how we look sans clothing. When we are comfortable naked, we can finally relax and enjoy intimate encounters to the absolute fullest.

A woman in her forties or fifties is less likely to take desperate measures to entice her partner, such as dressing up in sexy but uncomfortable lingerie, or wearing a pair of high heels guaranteed to aggravate her plantar fasciitis or her bad back. In contrast, it seems there are plenty of women in younger age brackets who follow ridiculous wardrobe guidelines to garner the attention of potential sex partners or followers on social media channels. A woman in her forties and beyond doesn’t have the inclination to make a fool out of herself to guarantee a romp in the bedroom. She is older, wiser, and doesn’t have time for such nonsense. She doesn’t feel like she needs to try so hard to win her partner’s favor. Her attitude tends to be more along the lines of, “This is what I’ve got, take it or leave it.” Besides, I am willing to bet that such an attitude is far sexier these days. In addition, most men tend to be more excited about the notion of getting you naked, and once you are in the buff , they aren’t scrutinizing your body for flaws.

Older women are also less selfish in bed, and bolder about declaring what they want; they know their bodies, their likes, and their dislikes. If single, they are more discerning about how they procure partners, so they are less likely to engage in risky activities which expose them to sexually transmitted diseases. For older women in a relationship, there is a greater likelihood that they have been with the same partner for many years and have developed a level of intimacy that only comes from a long-term committed relationship. A 40-something woman is usually confident enough to turn to her partner and say, “I really like it when you use your hands on me more” and not fret about whether her partner will accept her sexual preferences.

Chances are that for older women there are far fewer household distractions which can impede the natural progression of an afternoon of flirting into a full-blown lovemaking session. Such interludes are pretty much impossible if a baby is crying or young children are demanding attention. Once children have become old enough to be relatively independent, say from the preteens on, there may be more opportunities to roll around in the sheets without any interruptions. That kind of freedom can result in more spontaneous sexual encounters and greater satisfaction.

For those past menopause, Aunt Flo’s monthly visit no longer interferes with any amorous advances. Furthermore, there is no concern about getting pregnant and having an unplanned family addition. It’s incredibly liberating.

S E X U A L I S S U E S AND AGING

Though I have painted a rosy picture of the sex life of older women, there are some issues which can interfere with optimal sexual activity. However, this doesn’t mean that all women over 40 will experience sexual dysfunction. As geriatric psychiatrist and Caring.com senior editor Ken Robbins stated, “Impaired sexuality and sexual function aren’t normal consequences of ageing.”

Women can experience symptoms of perimenopause as early as 35, and the diminishing estrogen and progesterone levels can result in vaginal dryness and thinning of the vaginal mucosa, both of which can make intercourse painful. If this occurs, be sure to obtain a pelvic exam with a physician who can diagnose and treat the condition. In many cases a lubricant is sufficient, but hormone replacement therapy may be offered as an option as well.

Some women may experience a decrease in sexual desire as they age, but many others experience a surge in libido from the increased testosterone-to-estrogen ratio, which increases as estrogen levels continue to diminish. The sexual benefits of testosterone are also enhanced by regular weight training, which naturally boosts testosterone levels in the body. However, the ebb and flow of sexual desire often fluctuates more in women over the age of 40, a result of associated dips and surges in hormonal levels. In addition, the hot flashes, night sweats, and mood swings associated with plummeting progesterone levels don’t exactly make a woman feel amorous.

SOME WOMEN MAY EXPERIENCE A DECREASE IN SEXUAL DESIRE AS THEY AGE, BUT MANY OTHER SEX PERIENCE A SURGE IN LIBIDO FROM THE INCREASED TESTOSTERONE-TO-ESTROGEN RATIO, WHICH INCREASES AS ESTROGEN LEVELS CONTINUE TO DIMINISH.

If you are a woman over 40 who is experiencing symptoms of perimenopause, such as hot flashes, and they are frequent enough to disrupt your daily life, seek the advice of a physician. During your visit, you may ask if the addition of hormonal support supplements like mica or dehydroepiandrosterone (DHEA) would be helpful in decreasing the symptoms you are experiencing.

Most importantly, reduce stress in your daily life, get plenty of rest, and communicate with your partner about any sexual concerns you may have. The worst that can happen is you’ll have more mind-blowing sex.

By : DR. STACEY NAITO

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