Let’s talk about sex.
Is your sex life not what you thought it would be? Does the thought alone make you tired? Many people find their interest in love-making naturally drops with age. And the stress of daily life is enough to put anyone in a rut in the bedroom at times. Changing bodies can mean self-confidence takes a knock, not to mention that for women, those changes can sometimes make sex painful. Yikes! Who wants to willingly do something that causes pain?
So, let’s have a real conversation. After all, communication is the key to good relationships and good sex at any age. And it’s important not to overlook the vital role sex can play in our lives. That’s partly because a healthy sex life can improve your health, crazy but true – good sex is associated with a longer life, better sleep, and a lower risk of depression, to name just a few benefits.
Here are some steps you can take to improve your sex life:
1. Start by talking to your doctor
There are a number of medical issues that can affect your interest in sex. And while they are fairly common, they are not ideal and deserve some attention.
Both depression and thyroid problems can reduce your interest in sex, but to compound the issue, many of the medications used to treat these conditions can have a dampening effect on your libido.
In addition, you might want to get your hormone levels checked. As we get older, our androgens (testosterone being a key player here), start to decline. One of the roles androgens play is to rev up our libido, so this process can have a serious impact on desire. And the drop in estrogen levels that accompanies perimenopause can affect your libido too.
Shifting hormones can affect your sex life in other ways. For example, lower estrogen levels can sometimes lead to so-called “vaginal atrophy”, which is characterized by:
- Vaginal dryness, even during daily life activities
- Reduced lubrication during intercourse
- Thinning vaginal tissue, leading to pain during intercourse
- Urinary incontinence, which can make women self-conscious
Other physical changes caused by declining hormones can also reduce your sexual desire. For example, some women gain weight during perimenopause, which reduces their self-confidence. Others find they’re simply too tired to think about sex. Some are just too hot (not in a “sexy” way) and are so troubled by hot flashes that they can’t imagine having another warm body near them.
Sexual desire can require a careful balance of hormones to maintain. You may have taken this for granted when you were younger, but hormone changes are a normal part of your life cycle. Fortunately, help is available! There are many ways to treat the effects changing hormones can have on sex, from vaginal lubricants to hormone replacement therapy and supplements. Your healthcare practitioner can help you find what works for you and it’s more common than you think. So, don’t be embarrassed to talk about a change in your libido!
2. Focus on the positive and be in the moment
Yes, your body changes with age. However, it’s time to let go of the negative feelings you have about those changes. Inhibitions and problems with self-confidence are a sure way to lose interest in your sexual self. Try to accept the changes you’ve experienced. Be honest with your partner about your feelings (they may have similar thoughts about themselves).
Focus on the good things you’ve acquired with age. You may not have the body you once had, but you now have the experience to know what you want and what turns you on. In the end, self-confidence and communication are more attractive than a perfect body. Think about who are you are now and what you want.
3. Look beyond the bedroom
Many people lose interest in sex when they’re stressed. For women in particular, emotions that originate far away from the bedroom can influence their sex life. For example, many women are more likely to experience physical pain with intercourse if they’re experiencing tensions with their partner. In other words, your emotions can play as much of a role as your physical health in your sexual pleasure.
Talking about your relationship before a sexual encounter can help prevent those other problems from spilling over into your sexual relationship. If you’re experiencing relationship troubles, consider counselling. Your healthcare provider can provide advice on the next steps if you feel this is something you could benefit from.
What else can you do outside the bedroom to improve your sex life? Exercise is an excellent start. Even light exercise has been proven to improve sexual function. Not only can exercise improve your confidence, it lowers your levels of the stress hormone (cortisol) and raises your endorphin levels. Strength training, pilates, yoga, and cardio exercise have all been shown to improve women’s sex lives. So, do something that makes you feel powerful and confident.
4. Make the time
Unfortunately, the physical changes we experience with age often happen at a busy time for most women. Whether you’re pulled away from romance by work, family, or just the pressures of modern life, it can be hard to find time to address sexual problems. It can even be difficult to put time aside to prioritize your relationship.
It’s important to make the time to talk to your partner about sexual concerns. Even something as simple as vowing to go to bed at the same time a few times a week can help you rediscover each other. In addition, many couples find that their sex lives improve if they find time to do fun things together other than sex.
Sex matters. If you’re experiencing a less-than-amazing sex life, don’t hesitate to call the office. Testing and treatment for hormone imbalances can restore your libido. And talking about concerns with an open-minded listener is a great way to start improving your sex life. Sex can become even better with age!