af­ter 40

Think your sex life will be over af­ter 40? Never, you’re just get­ting warmed up. Here’s what to ex­pect when you’re get­ting it on in your 40s.

True Love - - RELATIONSHIPS - By AYANDA NKONYANA

Who, ex­actly, are those women who think they’ll lose the siz­zle be­tween the sheets when they hit the big 4-0? Some­one is ob­vi­ously spread­ing the wrong in­for­ma­tion be­cause your fierce for­ties are a time for gen­tle love and in­tense lust to in­ter­twine in equal mea­sure. The kids are older, your ca­reer has set­tled and you’ve come to love the body you were blessed with. You’re also more con­fi­dent in what you want and don’t like – and you’re able to tell your man what you need. Ac­cord­ing to a study done by the Univer­sity of Cal­i­for­nia, women grow in­creas­ingly sat­is­fied with their lives af­ter they turn 40. The trick, how­ever, is to em­brace the pas­sage of time and know that the sex you’re hav­ing in your for­ties can’t com­pare to the rip­ping romps of your twen­ties.

Your body has changed and your sex­ual func­tion­ing might not be the same. Dr El­mari Mul­der Craig, a cer­ti­fied sex­ol­o­gist and re­la­tion­ship ex­pert, says sex af­ter 40 can present chal­lenges, but it’s still pos­si­ble. With an open mind, you can con­tinue to en­joy a phys­i­cally and emo­tion­al­ly­ful­fill­ing sex life. “Ac­cept the older you, have a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude and an open mind with re­gards to sex. No mat­ter what your age, los­ing your de­sire for in­ti­macy and touch al­to­gether isn’t nor­mal. In fact, it might be a sign of a med­i­cal prob­lem that can be ad­dressed. If some­thing is get­ting in the way of your de­sire or abil­ity to have a good sex life, seek pro­fes­sional help from a sex­ol­o­gist,” she says.

Sex af­ter 40 may be vastly dif­fer­ent from what it was in your 20s but it can be more ful­fill­ing in many ways. We un­pack what’s hap­pen­ing with your body, look at how to work around phys­i­cal changes you may ex­pe­ri­ence and how to be­come more cre­ative.

EX­PE­RI­ENCE HOR­MONAL SURGE

You can blame your hor­mones for the fact that sex gets a whole lot drier af­ter 40, as oe­stro­gen lev­els start drop­ping. This will af­fect your sex­ual de­sire. Joburg-based

Ob­ste­tri­cian and Gy­nae­col­o­gist Dr Trudy Smith says, “As you age and reach menopause the vagina be­comes dry as your oe­stro­gen lev­els drops. The older you get, the more un­com­fort­able it be­comes and cer­tainly af­ter 60 it can get pro­gres­sively dryer.” This is what Mary, 41, ex­pe­ri­enced. “Since I passed my 40th birth­day I’ve no­ticed lower lev­els of de­sire and pre-menopausal hor­mones have wreaked havoc on my mood and created is­sues.”

Luck­ily, there’s noth­ing a good lu­bri­cant can’t fix. “Vag­i­nal dry­ness, erec­tile dys­func­tion and the lack of sex­ual de­sire will be­come is­sues but can be treated suc­cess­fully. Use a good sil­i­cone-based lu­bri­cant. Visit a sex­ol­o­gist’s web­site to find one of good qual­ity,” Dr El­mari says.

MORE CON­FI­DENT

When you are younger you worry more about how your body looks. Does he find you sexy? You put more fo­cus on your body looks than your sex­ual plea­sure. The bonus about sex in your 40s is that you feel so much less re­served dur­ing sex be­cause you’re not spend­ing the en­tire time think­ing about how your body looks. And when you aren’t spend­ing time be­ing in­se­cure and wor­ry­ing about how your body looks, you’re likely to en­joy sex more. Ju­lia, 45, says she doesn’t have to try hard to im­press her hus­band.

“I feel like I don’t have to do any­thing for my hus­band to find me sexy. I think it is be­cause I am more con­fi­dent at this stage in my life and he can see that, but he thinks I’m sexy with­out all of the make-up and lin­gerie. And I can en­joy my­self more be­cause I am more con­fi­dent,” she says.

Dr El­mari adds, “Once you start ap­proach­ing 40, you nat­u­rally start to feel less in­se­cure in the bed­room. There might be more self-con­fi­dence and self-aware­ness.”

LESS STRESSED

Most women spend their 30s ei­ther try­ing to con­ceive, preg­nant or tak­ing care of young chil­dren, which is a real stres­sor. They spend this decade in mommy-mode rather than sex­ual mode, and in­ti­macy gets put on the back burner. Women in their 30s are more likely to be at the peak of their ca­reers, and most pre­fer to put their time and ef­fort into climb­ing the ca­reer lad­der and often put sex on hold. There’s no big­ger li­bido killer than tod­dlers play­ing and scream­ing out­side, or com­ing into your room at night or re­turn­ing home late from work. Now, in your 40s, you’re less stressed about work and tak­ing care of the chil­dren, and have more en­ergy and time for sex, and even to plan week­end get­aways. Lebo, 44, says, “When I was in my 20s, I was con­stantly wor­ried about get­ting preg­nant and about how to talk to boyfriends to check if they were tested for sex­u­ally-trans­mit­ted dis­eases. Now that I’m in my 40s and in a long-term re­la­tion­ship, I don’t have to waste en­ergy wor­ry­ing about things like that,” she says. Dr Mul­der Craig says, “With chil­dren grown and work less de­mand­ing, cou­ples are bet­ter able to re­lax and en­joy one an­other at this age.”

SEX IS MORE PLEASURABLE

Think you’re in for the “same old, same old” if you’re in a long-term re­la­tion­ship? Think again. That’s just one of the many myths about ag­ing. Here’s why: Women in their 40s have more per­mis­sion and mo­ti­va­tion to ex­plore dif­fer­ent as­pects of sex­u­al­ity. While you might not be hav­ing sex as often af­ter you reach 40, you’ll prob­a­bly be hav­ing at least as many or­gasms when you do.

Sex does get bet­ter with age, as 47-year-old Tha­bile dis­cov­ered. “Peo­ple al­ways say that it’s harder to en­joy sex when you get older, but that’s been un­true for me. Maybe it’s be­cause I’m more com­fort­able in my own skin and I know what turns me on, but the ‘big O’ is way big­ger now. I will say the best thing is that, at this age, men are way bet­ter in bed. They’re gen­er­ally less self­ish, more skilled and more ded­i­cated to the wo­man’s plea­sure.” Dr Mul­der Craig agrees, say­ing that the older you be­come, the wiser you may feel than you were in your ear­lier years be­cause you know what works best for you when it comes to your sex life.

You’re more open to try­ing new things. Zodwa, 50, ex­plains, “My sex life’s ac­tu­ally much more ex­cit­ing now. I think my big­gest change is that I’m not afraid to ask for any­thing. I think we’re more ad­ven­tur­ous in the bed­room. It’s nice, though, be­cause we can try things we prob­a­bly wouldn’t have tried 10 years ago. Even if what­ever we try ends up be­ing a hor­ri­ble fail, we can laugh about it to­gether and cre­ate a dif­fer­ent kind of in­ti­macy in that.”

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