Hundreds of women have told me, “I love my husband, but I am no longer interested in having sex.” Hundreds! Millions more are out there. More than 500 million women in the world are post-menopausal. Many of these women still want to be interested in sex, they just aren’t.
Trisha was 62 years old when I first spoke to her about her sex life. Her drop in libido came with menopause, twelve years before. The change happened gradually, and sex with her husband became non-spontaneous and predictable—a once-a-week event, always at the same time in the same way—something like scratching a mutual itch, she said, “If we’re lucky enough to have the itch.” Although they’d had wonderful, compatible sex with each other for decades, it had become “Boring,” she said, “and we don’t do boring.”
Trisha had noticed this happening for a lot of her girlfriends— they were having less and less sex. “What I’ve seen with my friends is that because they’ve lost interest, due to menopause, they don’t feel motivated. They can’t see the point of revamping sexuality because from where they are, they don’t want to. What’s the point? They don’t feel sexy, they don’t feel horny, they don’t need sex anymore, so what the hell is the point of exploring it?”
Trisha was looking for options. Sex had been such an important and a strong part of her relationship with Ted, and they both wanted the spice back. She had high regard for Ted. ey had felt chemically attracted to each other from the time they’d first met in their twenties, and she wanted that back.
Part of the boring part for Trisha was that she used to orgasm during intercourse when she was on top, but she had not been able to do that for the past several years. Thee only way she could make it (have an orgasm) was through oral sex. In the past, she had been resistant to receiving oral sex. Once she began to experiment with it, she discovered how pleasurable it is, and she began to enjoy it. Still, she missed the variety of sexual options she’d previously had. Trisha signed up for my In the Bedroom class with the hope that it might help her figure out how to rekindle the spark she and Ted used to have.
When she told Ted she was going to take the class and why, it opened what she termed a scary conversation between the two about their current sex life. It was difficult and painful, but each of them found the courage and the honesty to say the hard stuff. They both admitted being bored with their whole pattern around sex. They agreed that sexuality was important to them, and that they were at a turning point. They were in their early sixties, and they both wanted to remain sexually active for another twenty or twenty- five years. Something needed to shift.
Trisha said that part of having the courage to broach this topic with Ted was she knew that they were supportive of each other. Neither was out to criticize the other. They both knew they wanted the same outcome: an exciting sex life. “It takes a lot of trust. Trust and knowing that you have faith in your partner, that you both want the same thing. It’s a huge, huge part of it,”Trisha said.
Whether your cyclical desire is gone due to surgery, menopause, or medication, there is a similar landscape to navigate. It is confusing, and can feel like a huge loss, sometimes devastating. One client, amidst tears and angry shouts, expressed how furious she was that no one had told her she would lose her mid-cycle interest in sex. She said she would have appreciated it more when she had it if she had known some day it was going to be gone. For women in a lesbian relationship at menopause, when ovulation stops, it can be doubly confounding, it is especially true if both women stop ovulating at or around the same time. With neither partner having that spontaneous cyclical interest, sexual initiation can drop sharply.
This lowering of libido is a common obstacle of menopause and the other one is the vaginal dryness which is often followed by sexual pain. Trisha had the drop in libido obstacle, and she did not have the vaginal dryness. She got her libido back. Her story is below.
Highlighting her own femininity was central to Trisha sparking the change in her sex life. Her sex life had become boring, and so she came to my In the Bedroom series for help. At the end of the first class, I showed slides with pictures of ten low- or no-cost things a woman could do to spark an immediate sexual charge with her partner.
Ten Low to No Cost Things You Can Do to Spark an Immediate Sexual Charge
- Stage your bedroom for a romantic event.
- Make a sexual promise and keep it.
- Interrupt your partner with one agenda only.
- Give a sensual massage.
- Break the rules.
- Dress for sex.
- Deliver a message written in lipstick.
- Flash a body part, accidentally or with emphasis. Role play with characters you enjoy.
- Send suggestive voice mails or texts – both ways.
Right after class, Trisha came up to me and asked if she could have a different assignment. “You need to understand, I don’t have any libido. I can’t do these things. I don’t have any desire for sex,” she said.
“Do them anyway,” I said. I wasn’t being unkind. I knew that the best way for her to find her libido was to take action. The following week Trisha was the first to raise her hand. She reported that she had done the assignment and picked something from the list, and she was shocked. She had dressed up in a sexy way, put on lipstick and eye makeup, and gone on a date with her husband. She flirted and they had fun. She already felt juicy again. “I was so surprised. I didn’t believe I could. I did all those things thinking nothing would happen. Now I am looking forward to sex with my husband!” Three months later, I followed up with her. She referred to her sex life as “hot.” “I did not know that I could control feeling horny through my mind, through thinking about sex, and through dressing up like I used to when I was sixteen or twenty-six and feeling beautiful. I think the key for me is really attention. Like you said, I can create that same feeling of hormonal need now, after menopause, by giving my attention to sex and feeling sexy. Part of all that is getting dressed up a little bit and going out somewhere in the evening, which we know isn’t the sexual part but we do it anyway. I like getting dressed up, knowing full well what’s coming later, and flirting, and making an event of the whole process so that I am feeling quite juicy by the time we even hit the bedroom. All of those things have rekindled my desire. I actually feel horny again!
Sounds kind of trivial and superficial to remember to dress sexily again. Luckily we have great bodies, so why not use them and dress sexily and not worry about the fact that I’m sixty-two years old, or believe that I should dress like sixty-two. No, I should not! To be the seductress in the bedroom, it’s the whole process—the way I dress and look, to the way the bedroom is decorated, to creating events, to having dates. Maybe going out for a six course meal, maybe going out for a martini, or something, but somewhere a little elegant.”
Overall, Trisha said her sex life has gone from boring to hot; in fact, her word now is “uninhibited.” She gives herself over to the experience of sex. Her mind quits and she allows her body to take over. ere is no control, and she can get lost in the experience. It feels like freedom and openness to her. It feels like coming home. She gets that luscious experience of oneness, the feeling that there is no separation between her and her husband. “I did a lap dance for him, which was great. I got dressed up and he chose the music, he arranged soft lighting in the room so it wasn’t too bright. The whole series (In the Bedroom) gave me permission to be erotic to do all that. It was wonderful. We went out together to get the stockings and the garter belt. He loves such things. And it’s just fun. It is about bringing the fun back in.” Connecting sexually has brought in more tenderness and respect. “We are both far more loving in the little ways throughout the day. It is just sweet. It really has improved in small ways which is lovely. There’s a wonderful sense of gratitude for each other. Our little secret of what we’ve done here together in the bedroom, which was a big step in intimacy, spills over to appreciation in all the other ways as well.” Trisha found that if she and her husband got into “work mode” for days at a time, they would schedule a date, and the good sexual tension returned. If Trisha missed sex first, she asked her husband to create a date. She liked it when he asked her to go on a date. His expression of desire for her added more romance, and she found romance arousing. There was another physical piece that added to Trisha’s pleasure. Ted’s erection had been getting softer in the past few years. This is normal, though not desirable. They went together to see his primary care physician and got a Cialis prescription. Since using it, Trisha can orgasm again from being on top during intercourse. She had enjoyed this a lot in the past, and though she had added in oral sex successfully, having more variety of sexual positions was a positive.
Great Post-menopausal Sex is possible – the built in obstacles are navigable. In part this is due to many different and safe treatments for the vaginal changes (Click here to read my other blog article on Vaginal Dryness), and the availability of Viagra like drugs and other products that are treatments for arousal problems. It is also due to keeping your sexual vibrancy alive, which is not a drug. For Trisha, and many of my clients, it is doing the actions that keep the sparks flying.