When I wrote my first book, Hot Sex, in 1999, I admitted that I regularly enjoy two orgasms a day. I still haven't lived it.
"Come on, we all know why you don't pick up," people keep telling me if I ever miss a call.
In my defense, I was 37 years old in 1999, and I honestly thought that was what everyone was up to at that age. Apparently they weren't.
I've always had a high libido. Which made it so devastating in part when it fell catastrophically after the menopause.
Sex expert Tracey Cox (pictured) reveals that her sex drive disappeared when she went through menopause
It wasn't that I suddenly hated sex. Far worse than that: I just forgot.
My sex drive, which had been so much of my identity for my entire adult life, just fell away.
Here I was, for three decades a "sex pert", author of 17 books on the subject, countless columns and television programs, and sex was no longer on my radar.
It was as if someone had got up at night and turned my pleasure button from "always ready" to "meh".
Of course, I knew everything about menopause and its effects on sex – I dedicate an entire chapter to it in my new book Great Sex Starts At 50.
Decreasing hormones can lead to dryness, insomnia, and mood swings. It can take longer to be aroused, and unfortunately when you are, you become less sensitive.
2.3 – The average number of times people aged 50 to 59 have sex per week
But none of these terrible things would happen to me?
And yet, "sexpert" or not, I couldn't deny that it was them.
I started menopause around 47, but like most women, the early symptoms could easily be attributed to other things.
I worked like a dog, traveled a lot and shot between London and New York. It was all very exciting, but I felt exhausted, irritable, stressed and angry.
Then the hot flashes came. The first struck while I was at a business lunch with two men.
We sat near a fire for coffee and I thought I would get burned spontaneously.
I kept saying to them, “Aren't you hot? Why aren't you hot?” They looked embarrassed – they both clearly thought, “She's going through menopause” – but, remarkably, it hadn't occurred to me was.
Loss of libido came next. I was busy writing a piece about orgasms and suddenly realized that I haven't had one for weeks, maybe even a month.
Tracey said the average number of times people ages 50 to 59 have sex per week is 2.3 (archive image)
I was single then, but that didn't mean anything. What was missing was the pat on the shoulder that said, "Hey you, satisfy that itch."
The spontaneous desire, my companion for almost 50 years, had left the building.
When I decided to do it, another shock: my nerve endings felt numb and my orgasms went from powerful, mind-changing experiences to little "beeps" that were barely noticeable.
I'm not going to lie – it felt like a disaster at the time.
We all have a friend or two who sail through menopause with hardly any symptom. But for a lot of women, it creates chaos.
And if you're not careful, this decline in sexual desire can create a vicious circle that doesn't lead to sex at all.
When menopause hit, Tracey Crouch (pictured) said her desire for sex was gone
The problem is, three crucial hormones decrease during menopause. Testosterone, which seems to affect cravings and blood flow, decreases seriously. (By the time a woman hits midlife, her body is producing half as much as it was in her 20s.)
Progesterone, another hormone generally responsible for sexual desire, also decreases and stops when ovulation does.
In the meantime, estrogen levels fluctuate and become unpredictable, which is often a recipe for painful dryness.
Is it any wonder you feel like you are losing your mojo by the time you hit your 50s?
The good news is, you can get it back with additional interest – but you may have to work on it as much as I did.
The truth is, having sex after 50 and after menopause requires a new perspective. It's not about making the daily sessions grim, it's about understanding how different the sex is compared to our 20s.
Tracey said estrogen levels can fluctuate and become unpredictable, which is often a recipe for painful dryness (archive image)
It's different, not worse. In fact, one of the great secrets of midlife sex is that it can easily be the best you've ever had.
For my book, I interviewed hundreds of women, as well as health and menopause experts, to find out what I should do to get my own sex drive going again.
And the first piece of advice I received is both the easiest and possibly the most difficult to implement. Have more sex.
The problem is, the more disturbing the sex feels, the less you do it – and the less you do it, the harder it becomes. It's exactly the definition of a vicious circle, and the only way to break it is by spending more time between the sheets.
When sex began to hurt for my part, I knew I had to seek professional help. Almost every woman experiences pain during intercourse at some point in her life, under certain circumstances, and it should never be ignored.
At that point, I had a great relationship with a man I met at the age of 50 and who is now my husband. Yet the gynecologist I saw about the pain was quick with her diagnosis.
She didn't get used to menopause, or impressed on me the importance of foreplay, or asked if my husband is particularly well endowed. Basically, it was just about one thing: whether or not I had sex regularly. We were, but clearly not enough.
"Use it or lose it" applies to pretty much anything when you are half a century behind you. After all, if you stop exercising you won't be able to run for a bus.
But it's crucial when it comes to sex. Regular sex prevents chronic cystitis, possible prolapse and incontinence and helps with thinning and dryness.
In short, the more regularly you have sex, the better shape your genitals are and the less likely they are to be in pain. Research has shown that this will be the case once a week.
If you just don't feel attracted to each other anymore, don't panic. It's difficult to remain attracted to someone for more than a few years, let alone decades.
You should try to see yourself through the eyes of others. During my non-sex phase, I remembered an attractive single woman I met at a party who was staring at my partner with hungry eyes.
Tracey gave advice on a post-menopausal sex life, saying regular sex helps prevent thinning and dryness (archive image).
"If you're ever done, you will steer it my direction, won't you?" She said.
I remembered her and thought, "She could be molested" – and believe me, there is nothing more sexual than someone who wants what you have.
But also look beyond the obvious. At a recent wedding, I saw the most beautiful guests outrageously flirting with a very average looking man she was sitting next to. Intelligence, humor, the way someone gives you their undivided attention: that's sexy too.
The best flirts are those who know how to tease and charm at the same time. My mom is one of the best flirters I know: at 84, she's still flirting with everyone.
Number two on my lifesaver list was HRT (hormone replacement therapy).
I took testosterone for a while, which affected my sex drive almost immediately – zoom! – but also changed my personality in a way that I didn't like.
I got impatient and irritated by everyone, so I got away with a more peaceful life.
Tracey was shocked at how many couples fail to talk about sex, which she thinks can cause them to stop having sex (archive image)
But my estrogen pessaries have been a huge hit and have almost completely cured the drought problems.
I also took a high strength cranberry supplement to help stop the pesky urinary tract infections that are more common with menopausal sex.
This was great advice that should be put into action – but for the most effective of them all, you don't even have to get undressed. It's about speaking honestly with your partner about any changes that you are going through.
I specialize in writing and speaking about sex – I am told a lot of eye-opening, very intimate things. But nothing shocked me more than realizing how many couples just don't talk about sex.
Couples I know; Couples who are close to each other and tell each other pretty much everything – even if they don't talk about sex. And if a couple isn't talking about sex, they're less likely to talk about it if they're also no longer having sex.
I am not going to judge you if your sex life has diminished so much that you want to stop having sex altogether.
You'll be missing out on a number of physical and emotional benefits, including a strengthened immune system and less stress, but it's obviously entirely up to you.
Older couples report greater satisfaction during sex as both parties slow down and enjoy the action more (archive image).
Before going down this route, however, you need to both confirm what is happening and check with each other that you are okay with having sex removed from the menu. And that means talking about it.
As you'd expect, talking about sex is no problem for me. I could probably stand talking a little less about the clinical side of sex (according to my long-suffering husband).
But the more honest you are about sex with each other and what changes you are feeling, the less likely you are to fall into that terrible place where the two of you avoid any kind of intimacy because you are embarrassed about what happens to your bodies while you are march through the decades.
Talking will help you change the way you think about sex – and you can start shedding the stale, unhelpful, and irritating sex myths we carry around. Yes, of course our bodies change with age.
Our life changes. What we want in life changes. I don't want to do the same things that I wanted to do in my 20s, and there is no way I want the kind of sex I had back then.
And yes, orgasm often lasts longer after menopause. Is this really a disaster? Or a blessing? Flip it to “Great! More time to enjoy the trip ”.
Sex in your fifties and above is gentler, less rushed, and less focused on penetration than it is in your twenties. One reason older couples report greater satisfaction with sex is because they slow down and spend longer on foreplay.
TRACEY & # 39; S TOP TEN MEDIUM SEX TIPS
- The desire to lose is more "natural" in long-term relationships than wanting to continue having sex – it doesn't mean you are with the wrong person. You'd be a freak if you wanted to hit your partner against a wall the 15,000th time he came through the door.
- DO NOT assume that your partner will love you no matter what. Saying, "Harold will never cheat," makes you feel great and even insults Harold. When you love your partner, there is a reason for others to love him. Appreciate what you have while you have it.
- Happy people have affairs. Often times, your partner cheating on you has nothing to do with you and everything related to you.
- New lovers become old lovers. That alluring, shiny, new person is going to be just as annoying as the ones you already have in a few years.
- Feeling wanted is the biggest problem of all. Seeing appreciation in your lover's eyes is more arousing than any sex trick in the book.
- Being selfish in bed isn't a bad thing. Focus on your own pleasure and neither have to worry while the other is having a good time.
- It's ridiculous to feel guilty about your fantasies. Being unfaithful in your head is not the same as being in your bed.
- It's okay to stop having sex from time to time. Life is stressful. Arrange a break and neither of you will freak out thinking it's permanent.
- A good lubricant is just as important as toothpaste and toilet paper.
- If you feel bad after sex, you are sleeping with the wrong person.
Sex – shock horror! – does not have to mean sexual intercourse. It may be his favorite piece, but most women don't have their orgasms like that.
When foreplay is promoted and becomes the main event, sex is always more satisfying for women.
When you're in the middle of life, you'll also discover how overrated spontaneous sex is. Shady knees and bad backs paid off to spice up a stroll in the country with an outdoor quickie.
Instead, you realize how powerful an aphrodisiac is to anticipating and planning the event.
My husband and I now have “Sunday sex”. It's a day without interruptions. we have a relaxed, juicy lunch and then go back to bed a bit; We take turns to find something new – and it works.
My 30-year-old flinches when I admit this in public. "For God's sake, that's such an unsexy thought!" She hisses. “Planned sex is like that. . . Good . . . boring! & # 39;
But for many post menopausal women and men who may need a bit of help in the bedroom, planned sex is stress free.
Plus, we don't care what our 30-year-old self thinks because we care less what someone thinks! Many women become more confident as they age.
This translates well into the bedroom, as we are less concerned with making men happy than with achieving orgasm.
When you enjoy good sex later in life, it's not about staying young, either physiologically or in attitude. It's not about desperately trying to turn back the clock.
It's about being the best version of yourself so that you can enjoy the second half of your sex life as much as you did the first.
I'm 58 now and my 50s was honestly the best decade of my life – it helps that I spent most of it in the best relationship I could ever want, but it's not just about that.
I feel peaceful, but not like the fire in my stomach has gone out. I've got my libido back and I finally feel like I've settled into it.
So adjust your expectations, move the goalposts – and like me, you might surprise yourself with your new mid-life between the sheets. . .
Great Sex Starts At 50, by Tracey Cox (Murdoch Books), £ 12.99, is available now.
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