Let’s talk about midlife sexuality. Since I’ve been doing this work, I have had many young women approach me and say “thank you, you’ve made me less afraid of aging” or “thanks for what you do, I don’t dread menopause as much now.” It’s wonderful to hear this, of course, and on the surface these are heartening and encouraging comments. But they are also sad. These comments show what our starting point is in working to honour menopause and the wise woman years. Our default setting in our feelings about aging and changing? Fear.
I could speak to this from so many angles – in fact we spend a whole week on this in Sacred Menopause Online. But today I want to talk about one of our biggest fears – the fear of our sexuality changing. I know for me, as a younger woman, this fear was one of the main reasons I pushed thoughts of menopause out of my mind.
The fact is, our sexuality DOES change throughout our lives. Each decade of life brings different explorations and experiences of ourselves as sexual beings. Our sexuality fluctuates a lot during our childbearing years. All along, there are unexpected twists and turns in the journey, and we learn so much about ourselves, our bodies, our relationships, the meaning of intimacy, and the presence of spirit in the physical form.
And yes, our sexuality DOES change at menopause. But TRULY this is nothing to fear. As I talk to more and more women about their personal menopausal journey, as I read all the books I can get my hands on, what strikes me most is the incredible VARIETY in how women in their fifties, sixties and beyond experience our sexuality. In fact, I think there is even MORE variety than among women in their thirties and forties. From the happily celibate to the “are you kidding? I’ve never been hotter,” its ALL normal.
Love, passion, ecstasy, desire, surrender … these feelings are ageless.
But here’s the thing – no lie – our bodies DO change. We’re getting bigger and softer and crinklier, most of us, to one degree or another. And sure, this takes us just a few steps farther away from our society’s ridiculously narrow beauty standards. For some of us, this matters a lot, and is a painful struggle. For others of us, we may finally discover that we just.don’t.care.anymore. Maybe you’re somewhere in between.
This is one more wonderful opportunity to decide if we are going to let negative feelings about our appearance affect how much pleasure we allow ourselves to have. We’ve come this far without allowing the relentless waves of unrealistic, pornified images of sexuality drag us down. So let’s forge ahead, sisters!
So our appearance changes. Our experiences within our bodies change too, and the ways they change are incredibly diverse. This is one of the most diverse aspects of the menopausal experience. No two women are alike in their experience of midlife sexuality. Sexual response and desire are incredibly complex! Really awe inspiring, actually, the combination of hormonal, psychological, and health factors that create your unique experience of sexuality at this stage of life.
There is a common thread though: women in their fifties seem to come to a point where we finally feel we OWN our own sexuality. THIS IS SO LIBERATING. It’s no longer about pleasing someone else. its no longer about having a perfect body. It’s no longer about whats ‘normal.’ It’s no longer about outward ‘attractiveness.’ IT’S ABOUT US. It’s about how we FEEL in our bodies and how we WANT to feel. It’s about how WE define intimacy, how WE define pleasure. It’s about FINALLY SAYING WHAT WE WANT. In short, it’s about sexual emancipation.What I see in women at midlife is a fierce owning of our sexual autonomy, sometimes for the first time in our lives. For the first time, many of us are saying “My body is mine, my pleasure is mine, my sexual experience is mine to define.” This means opening new doors, sometimes healing old wounds. It can be a time of adventure, liberation, exploration, sadness, healing, confusion, change.
I know for me, my expression of sexuality feels ageless. If anything, my sensual experiences feel richer now than ever, but sensual feelings transport me to a place that is ageless, and paradoxically, a place that is less about my body and much more about my energy and my love. How does it feel for you? I want to know.