Sex File: I only want sex twice a month

Sex File: I only want sex twice a month

SUZI GODSON:

Q. I am a 48-year-old married woman and find that my sex drive really varies. Typically there are a couple of days in a month when I feel in the mood, then my interest wanes until that time again the following month. I assume this is to do with my cycle, but do I just have to accept this as my new normal?

A. I hope you are still using contraception because the arousal you feel around the time of ovulation is natural – it is your body’s last attempt to get you pregnant. Women who can see 50 on the horizon assume that fertility is a ship that sailed long ago, but 48-year-olds can and do get pregnant.

Contraception can not just ensure that you don’t become accidentally pregnant, but could also make you feel better throughout the month. Professor Lesley Regan, a retired head of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, recommends that women of your age should use the Mirena coil because as well as providing contraceptive protection, it also releases small amounts of the hormone progesterone, which will help to regulate your periods during perimenopause.

Most women go through the menopause between the ages of 45 and 55. The good news is that you can also use a Mirena coil with low-dose transdermal hormone replacement therapy (HRT), which will protect you from some of the more unpleasant side effects of menopause, such as hot flushes, night sweats, palpitations, headaches, insomnia, fatigue or bone loss.

If you are perimenopausal it would explain your fluctuating libido, but the best way to stay sexually active, is . . . to stay sexually active. In midlife, arousal, penetration and orgasm maintain blood flow, which keeps the vaginal tissue healthy. As we age the sensitivity of our nerve endings decreases, which can mean it takes longer to achieve orgasm. Because the vaginal tissue is more delicate, finding ways to increase stimulation without additional friction is increasingly important.

Fortunately, vibrator technology has come up with a brilliant solution. Sonic technology allows waves of stimulation to transmit sensation to the entire internal structure of the clitoris. Although sonic wave vibrators such as the Lelo Sila or Sona Cruise have not been specifically designed for perimenopausal women, the fact that they can stimulate you by making direct contact with the delicate tissue of your clitoris makes them the ideal sex toy for middle-aged women.

Women in their late 40s also assume that a decrease in sexual desire is inevitable, but that’s not necessarily true.

Perimenopause is a hormonal rollercoaster, but the ovaries wind down oestrogen production in a rather untidy fashion. Sometimes they sputter out a bit more, or a bit less, and erratic oestrogen levels mean that testosterone levels can sometimes be comparatively higher. In fact, some women experience an unexpected sex surge just as they are expecting their interest in sex to drop off a cliff.

You are experiencing a peak in your libido in the middle of your menstrual cycle, but as you get closer to menopause and your cycle becomes increasingly erratic, you may find that you want sex at the end of the month, or even not at all. In that situation, you may not feel like initiating sex, but that doesn’t mean you won’t experience responsive desire if your husband initiates. Remember, keeping sex alive in a marriage is about remaining open to the possibilities, and recognising that if you don’t use it, you lose it.

Older couples do experience a decline in sexual frequency, but it is more closely correlated with the length of the relationship than the age of the individuals. Later in life, quality matters more than quantity because the male libido declines too. As long as the sex you have is interspersed with regular kissing, cuddling and skin-to-skin contact, you don’t need to worry.

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