Myths About Sex After 40
By Denise Schipani
Learn why good sex can come with age
Forty may be the new 30, but considering the misconceptions about women's sexuality and desirability after a "certain age," you'd think 40 was the new 80! Whether you blame advertising portrayals of what's "sexy" (Victoria's Secret models, anyone?), or the fact that leading TV and movie roles turn more to the matronly than the hot as actresses age, myths about a more mature women's sexuality abound. "We silently believe that only young people have sex," says Maureen McGrath, RN, a sex-health educator and radio host. But that couldn't be further from the truth. Here, eight myths we're happy to dispel for you.
Myth 1: You don't need sex as you get older.
Truth: It's hard to redefine what the need for sex is after you're done baby-making. And sure, you won't die without sex; it's not food or water. But that doesn't mean you need it any less than other things that bring joy, satisfaction and better emotional and physical health. "Sex gets blood flowing, which brings nutrients to all parts of your body and eliminates waste. Heart pumping, deep breathing—it's all good for you," says Carmella Sebastian, MD, a women's wellness and sexuality expert.
Myth 2: Those extra pounds make you undesirable.
Truth: Repeat after us: Enjoying sex isn't about how you look, but how you feel. "You can have inner confidence at any weight," says McGrath. That said, if you're not feeling your best, go for a brisk, 30-minute walk with your partner rather than have another helping of pasta at dinner. And try to quash that inner monologue that's telling you men don't find less-than-perfect bodies sexy. Ask any guy: If the woman who shares his bed gets naked, he's not seeing a muffin top and cellulite. He's seeing naked. If you're single now and worried that a new lover won't find you desirable, forget that too. "Your lumps, bumps and wrinkles mean nothing to 99% of men over 40," says Bobbi Palmer, founder and CEO of Date Like a Grownup. "What you lack in firmness you more than make up in humor, compassion and experience. Plus, you know your body better than you ever did in your 20s." All those years living in your skin has taught you what turns you on that you just didn't know two decades ago. And what's sexier to a man than a woman who knows what she wants in bed?
Myth 3: Your body isn't sexual once you enter perimenopause.
Truth: The changes that occur in the (sometimes) years before menopause, such as irregular periods, mood changes and lack of vaginal lubrication will affect your sex life. But a changing body is still a sexual body, says Dr. Sebastian, and recognizing that is important. Avoiding sexual activity may only worsen things. Take dryness: Using a lubricant such as KY Jelly helps, but so does the act of having sex: "When blood goes to the genitals, the tissues remain healthy," encouraging natural lubrication. Hot flashes and fatigue associated with perimenopause can wreak havoc on your energy levels, says McGrath, so talk to your doctor about possible hormonal remedies. And look on the bright side: This can be a time of experimentation and freedom with sex that you didn't have when young kids were underfoot. "Introduce a vibrator, experiment with self-stimulation, try new positions," suggests McGrath.