That’s right, I’m calling it out: How’s your sex drive? Are you still the active little minx you were in your twenties, do you ebb and flow like the tides, or are you, like a prisoner, on lockdown?
If you’re finding your desire levels have changed, you’re not alone. Many women, as they reach forty, find their libido increasingly elusive. According to multiple studies, between 40% to 50% of women over the age of forty experience diminished libido.
Some of this can be attributed to perimenopausal and menopausal hormonal fluctuations, while other aspects can have more to do with your mind. If you’ve spent the last twenty years fitting your love life around your up-and-coming career, school, kids, errands and now all of a sudden the kids are off to college or out on their own, and your career is either established or you’re retired, it might seem like you should be having the time of your life. But the truth is all those life changes can be unsettling, and anything that creates stress can have an impact on desire.
If you think this may be true for you, think about re-framing your situation. While the frenzy of fitting lovemaking into your busy schedules when you were younger was exciting, once you get used to the idea of an emptier house, let’s face it, it opens up a world of opportunities.
It’s also a great chance to get to know your partner again. When you started out, you had the luxury of interacting and responding to each other’s moods and feelings. But then, for nearly two decades, most of us find ourselves largely reacting to day-to-day kid-related situations, even emergencies. Think of this as your reward. You get to go back to a period when you lived for yourselves and each other. Be like kids together again, you’ve earned it!
Physical is uncomfortable.
While some aspects of libido are in your head, other aspects are elsewhere. Many typical mid-life physical complaints, some perimenopause- and menopause-related, can have a significant impact on sex drive. Three hormones in particular play major roles in your experience of sexual desire: estrogen, progesterone, and even low levels of testosterone. During menopause all these key hormone levels can plummet, resulting not only in uncomfortable physical symptoms, but even in fatigue and low energy that can sap sex drive.
While we’re all aware of classic symptoms like hot flashes and night sweats, did you know hormonal changes at this time can also cause thinning of vaginal tissue, irritability, bladder control problems and even balance issues?
Fortunately, you’re part of a lucky generation for whom access to health research and varied products and strategies for relief are as close as your nearest internet connection. Whatever your symptom, there’s most likely something out there that can help get you back on track.
Nobody’s rules matter but your own.
Don’t forget, the best thing about being a real grownup (as opposed to the grownup you pretended to be in your twenties and thirties) is that nobody can tell you what to be, or how you should feel or act. If you want to seize this time to act out every crazy fantasy you could never do before, go right ahead! If you want to make love a little, and then garden a little, you can do that too. You know who you are, you know what you like, and if you’ve reached menopause, you don’t have to worry about getting pregnant doing it. So have a blast doing whatever YOU want to do!