I can never predict exactly how I will arrive at a focus for the next installment of 50+Fabulous. “Relationship” is an inexhaustible topic, so I just let my own life take me where it will. This month the journey started with an interesting discussion amongst my husband and fellow bicycling enthusiasts. The guys were savoring the glory of their long, arduous bike ride. “Yeah,” one friend said to Doug, “you really bonked after the 40th mile!” When I heard this, my reaction was “Bonked? You bonked! Where was I?”
Depending on the reader’s frame of reference you might be thinking:
Bonk--The condition when an athlete suddenly loses energy and becomes fatigued, (Wikipedia), or
Bonk--British slang for sexual intercourse (Wikipedia), or
Bonk--Best-selling author Mary Roach’s new book about the study of sexual physiology.
Having just finished reading Roach’s book, my mind was swimming between all three, making it important for me to find out exactly how this word was being used relative to my husband. It was the first definition (phew) but it has led to some interesting conversations and brings me to lay down, so to speak, some pithy and simple tips for making sex after 50 truly fabulous.
Let’s start with definition: we can afford, at our age, to be relaxed and inclusive in how we define sex, knowing from experience that we may just as often be sated and satisfied by the emotional and spiritual components of our love making as by intercourse. “Being touched” goes well beyond any physical sensation and there are certainly many expressions of love.
But, if you want the latest tips on (or reminders of) what makes for fabulous sex, here’s the short list for sexual satisfaction made simple:
Linger longer. Remember Masters and Johnson’s research? It revealed that the best sex happens when we are not goal oriented. It isn’t about the destination. Lingering with touch and finding more sensations to explore (there’s always more to discover) for yourself and your partner heightens pleasure and makes each step worth appreciating.
Make up your mind. During childrearing years, there may have been so much going on that your mind developed some bad habits of multi-tasking. It’s time to make the midlife shift and return mental focus to one thing at a time. Especially when it comes to sex. Letting go of distractions, becoming focused and being fully present are like mental Viagra, ensuring a heightened experience.
Use it or Lose it. Testosterone, more than any other hormone, influences a women’s libido. Hence, it’s testosterone that is sometimes prescribed for women complaining of declining interest in sex (a new drug for issues of sexual arousal, bremelanotide, is likely to be in the final stages of FDA approval late this year.) Additionally, recent research, quoted in Roach’s book, Bonk, revealed that testosterone levels rise for women who are having regular sexual activity. Nice reinforcement and apparently one that also works when a woman stimulates its production for herself.
Talk it up. There is nothing to be gained from holding back about what feels good (and what doesn’t). Midlife is a great time to give yourself the gift of freedom of expression regarding your body and what pleases you. Look into any obstacles that keep you from talking openly with your partner. Find out more about your own body and give clear operating instructions to your partner. I assure you, men treasure such guides and it often increases their arousal.
Don’t make it harder than it needs to be. Due to physiological changes during and after menopause, many women need to adjust their expectations of their bodies. That might mean adding the benefit of personal lubricants or estrogen cream. It might mean updating yourself with accurate information from guides or videos, available from a place like www.goodvibes.com (graphic, but a good resource.)
Our cultural has come a long way in its comfort with the topic of sex. In fact, we 50+ have survived an era when discussing sexuality could illicit a bonk to the head (Bonk-- an onomatopoeic word that imitates the sound it describes.) Currently that’s a usage associated with a rap on the head and a “I could have had a V8!” No matter, we’re not so old that we will bonk (hit the wall) during sex, so a bonk on the head might now be a good reminder that instead of eating chocolate “I could have bonked instead!”