Pray tell, how are we expected to have a big picture perspective on The Change when we’re worried about our non-existent libido sabotaging our relationship?
Inspired by the topic in our upcoming Conscious Menopause series, (Common Symptoms – a Holistic View) I thought I’d start the conversation here with a biggie – the free-fall of midlife libido. (By the way, you’re all invited to join us this Thursday at 5 PST for a real-time online get-together to hear our voices and share our musings.)
Many women I see in my practice talk about how disoriented they feel when days go by and they realize they haven’t thought once about sex. Or they’re disillusioned because, as much as they love their partners, they just aren’t turned on by them anymore. Or they’re grieving the loss of this vital part of themselves – they dont recognize themselves as ‘asexual’ women. On the other hand, some women are just so relieved that they no longer have to deal with sex anymore – it was never enjoyable, and now it’s thankfully behind them. Wherever we sit on this spectrum today (we seem to slide up and down the continuum as we transition through menopause), it’s helpful to understand …
The big picture on libido
Here’s the unavoidable truth about our sex drive: as a human female mammal we need intimacy, safety and love to become aroused. During our early years, our hormonal cocktail (aka the reproductive imperative) could often override this but now, at midlife, we need that cuddle time, we need touch that doesn’t only lead to sex, and we need to explore arousal and stimulation that feels good in our changing body.
The fact that our body takes longer to become aroused and juicy is … a delicious gift. When we and our partner are tuned in and curious about the changes, we both reap the benefits of our emerging “full sexuality”. Women from less youth-focused cultures have told me how the most desirable women sexually are post-menopausal!
So the bottom line it this: our bodies are changing. And with that, our sexuality is too. One woman put it beautifully: “We had to have a very frank conversation. Outside the bedroom. I told my partner that we had to kinda start over, discovering the touch, the attention, the words that now turn me on.” We seem to move towards slow loving with the focus us and on the intricacies of our extraordinary anatomy. Sheri Winston’s great book “Woman’s Anatomy of Arousal” is fabulous for navigating and discovering places you’ll want to visit. In our world of male-focused sexuality, we sometimes have to dig a little deeper to discover more options. Lisa Shrader’s work Awakening Shakti brings the Tantric practices to our modern ways and shows us what’s possible when we feel stuck.
Here’s more good news: for some women orgasms can become stronger and more prolonged. And even more: when orgasms don’t happen, it doesn’t really matter because now our whole body can become more easily aroused. Whew, there really isn’t an ‘end goal’ in sex, and yes, the playing fields have certainly changed, haven’t they? This is what we’re talking about when when we say FULL womanhood.
In the meanwhile, you’d love some ideas to smooth over the cracks that have appeared. Here’s a little inventory that might help: how’s your self-care going? Are you getting enough sleep (type ‘sleep’ into the search box for many ideas from the Goddesses)? Fatigue is a number one libido zapper. Are you keeping our body nimble and strong? You want to have that engine ready to go. And then you know what they say about practice, practice, practice. Hang in there, do what you can to stay engaged and sexually active. I’ve heard it said that three or more times a month is good for keeping the juices flowing. Talking of flowing juices, taking care of our changing ladies parts is a big part of the libido conversation. “Sex” and “vaginal dryness” in the search box can certainly scratch your itch, so to speak.
Whether we want more or less of it in our lives, our sexuality is ours to claim. It’s an expression of our vitality. It’s important to know, as aging women, we have options when it comes to sculpting how we move gracefully, sensually and sexually, into the second half our our lives.
I hope you’ll join us on Thursday. It’s sure to be rich and juicy.
Ashley offers Conscious Menopause coaching in San Rafael and via Skype. You can read more on her website ashleyjeanneross.com.