It’s women’s month in South Africa and it’s almost Spring here in the Southern hemisphere, so when better than now to chat about sex? Many women think sex is useful for two things; procreation and keeping men happy. This is an abysmal misunderstanding! Sex is for pleasure, for keeping the erotic being that we all are alive and satiated. Sex is for connection, communication, for relationship deepening. Sex is for health and wellbeing, for joy and delight. Sex is for everyone. Without it we are denying a part of who we are. Everyone has the right to sexual pleasure, and no-one should be denied - or worse still, deny themselves. I know it's women’s month but this article is just as much for men and transgender and non-binary people. It is for ALL people, whatever their sexual preferences. If you identify as a person, read on...
Menopausal women often suffer a huge decline in sexual desire (interest in sex). Many couples have a desire disparity between the partners during this period, as well as other times when stress is high, fatigue is a factor or when strife exists in the relationship. This can lead to conflict and misunderstanding, and it is a difficult challenge to encounter. Often the partner with greater desire is thought to be the ‘normal’ one and the partner with lesser desire is described as pathological. This way of seeing the situation is neither correct, nor fair. It also doesn’t help to resolve the situation, but instead, it drives a solid wedge into it.
What can be done instead? The brain is the biggest sex organ and engaging this great big sex organ deliberately is always going to help. This means consciously doing what you know makes your partner feel special. Starting with “foreplay” in the morning, do small things that you know will fill your partner’s love cup! It could be a cup of tea in bed and a tidy kitchen or bathroom. Sending that loving or enticing text - out of the blue, during the day, or bringing flowers or a favorite chocolate home with you. This means setting the context, on purpose, that you know will lead to closeness, connection, and intimacy. It may mean a picnic in the garden instead of a sandwich in front of the TV, or a ‘rom com’, at the movies instead of Netflix on the couch. Even better if you have a drink afterwards and chat about your favorite part and discuss the whole movie-theme.
These actions will bring connection and closeness. Equally important is making space and time to talk about your own relationship. Sharing what you love and finding ways to talk about the difficulties that are coming up. Make yourself available for that even if it's uncomfortable! The amount of intimacy that results from having those uncomfortable dialogues opens up the channels for desire to flow. Remember that resentment kills libido and allowing resentment to fester is one sure way to kill the sexy spark in your relationship.
If you are the one suffering from low desire, don’t just let sex fade into the background. It is never going to be good for you to do that. Sometimes it helps to say “yes” even when you don’t feel like it and test the waters with yourself. Desire may emerge as you engage. You can always stop the process later if it really doesn’t feel right for you. Communicate what is happening for you, and your partner will be better able to meet you where you are at.
If you don’t have a partner, engage on your own and see what happens. We don’t stop being sexual beings when we are single, and we certainly don’t need a partner to indulge our erotic needs.
If you are the partner with a higher desire, remember to hear your partner’s “no”. Don’t just pressurize them into saying “yes”, because their next “yes” will be much harder to elicit if you do. It often helps the MOST to start by just engaging in affection. Kiss and cuddle and chat, but take sex off the table. This may well be the quickest route back to desire for the low desire partner without the added pressure of having sex. In addition to that, it could awaken in your relationship, a lost delight in touch. Focus on how good it feels to touch each other’s bodies. Pay attention to the joy of being physically close and being able to use your senses on each other. Enjoy each other’s smell, taste, the sounds each of you make and of course the sight of each other. Bring your sensory system on-line and fully appreciate all the delights that are available when you do.
Make time for sex in your life. Don’t wait until bedtime and wonder why you never feel like having sex. Find a time when you can relax and enjoy some intimacy, undisturbed and not worrying that someone will need you or interrupt you. Diarize that time, schedule it and prioritize it. If you leave it up to chance to find you a spot, you are likely to find that the right spot never arrives. The biggest gift a parenting couple can give to their children is a happy relationship, so put your relationship needs at the front of the queue. For some a date night is a winning formula. You know your life, make the time that suits you and your partner best and then be rigid about keeping that time sacred for intimacy and sex.
If things aren’t working well, please don’t sweep it under the carpet. Don’t ignore it and hope it will vanish and become a non-problem. If there is a problem in your sex-life, get help. Find a credible health-care provider specially trained in sex and consult them soon. I belong to the My Sexual Health Team of sexual health providers headed by Dr Elna Rudolph who is a sexologist. This team is made up of doctors, psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, gynaecologists, urologists and more. We have all been through rigorous training and special supervision to ensure we are equipped to help you with whatever problems you are confronting. Feel free to visit the site www.mysexualhealth.co.za, or call me for an appointment or a referral. As a physiotherapist, I work with the pelvic floor muscle and with sexual pain, vaginismus, unconsummated marriages, erectile dysfunction, premature ejaculation and much more. I use mindfulness coaching together with hands on work to help resolve problems that exist. The biggest suggestion I can make is: shine the light on your sex life and talk about it. That way, whatever problems you face can be dealt with and help can be found if help is needed.
I wish you pleasure and sensuality that far surpass your wildest dreams.
In the quest for wellbeing and pulsing health