Who, exactly, are those women who think they'll lose the sizzle between the sheets when they hit the big 40? 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 Se_x you're having in your forties can't compare to the ripping romps of your twenties.
Your body has changed and your Se_xual functioning might not be the same. Dr Elmari Mulder Craig, a certified Se_xologist and relationship expert, says Se_x after 40 can present challenges, but it's still possible. With an open mind, you can continue to enjoy a physically and emotionally fulfilling Se_x life.
“Accept the older you, have a positive attitude and an open mind with regards to Se_x. 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 Se_x life, seek professional help from a Se_xologist,” she says.
Se_x 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 Se_x gets a whole lot drier after 40, as oestrogen levels start dropping. This will affect your Se_xual 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 Se_xual desire will become issues but can be treated successfully. Use a good silicone-based lubricant. Visit a Se_xologist's website to find one of good quality,” Dr Elmari says.
When you are younger you worry more about how your body looks. Does he find you Se_xy? You put more focus on your body looks than your Se_xual pleasure. The bonus about Se_x in your 40s is that you feel so much less reserved during Se_x 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 Se_x 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 Se_xy. 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 Se_xy 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.”
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 Se_xual 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 Se_x 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 Se_x, 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 Se_xually-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.”
SE_X 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 Se_xuality. While you might not be having Se_x as often after you reach 40, you'll probably be having at least as many orgasms when you do.
Se_x does get better with age, as 47-year-old Thabile discovered. “People always say that it's harder to enjoy Se_x 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 Se_x life.
You're more open to trying new things. Zodwa, 50, explains, “My Se_x 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.”