A Grown-Up Man’s Guide to a Grown-Up Woman’s Body
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Sex & Relationships

A Grown-Up Man’s Guide to a Grown-Up Woman’s Body

An open letter to my lover about my 40-something body

black and white photo of a man and woman in bed
Ondrea Barbe/Trunk Archive

Dear Lover,

I always assumed sex was like riding a bike — once you’ve mastered it, you’re set for life. I was wrong. So I want to share with you what’s different for me about our sex life now that I’m in my 40s.

I’m sure you remember that recent night, when I pressed against you, just as eager. But when you began trying to enter me, it felt uncomfortable at first, then actually painful. I waited, hoping my body would catch up to my mind.

I saw that hurt look when I pushed your hand away. I felt awful but didn’t know how to get us back on track.

I always hated the excuse, “It’s not you, it’s me.” In this case, though, it really is me. And it’s not what’s happening in my head; it’s what’s happening to my body.

I was expecting changes during menopause, but estrogen levels actually start to fluctuate earlier, during perimenopause. That means the tissues both inside and outside my vagina are changing and becoming thinner and less elastic. Translation: It can get dry down there. And that’s just not sexy. Cardi B isn’t writing any songs about a DAP.

So sex can hurt — not my feelings, I mean my actual vagina. I’d love to start using some lubricant, which I bet would feel good when I touch you, too. The trick is making it not feel like a chore. Let’s start keeping lube next to the bed, and make a mental note to dip your fingers in before touching me. (And if we take our time, there’s a reward in all this. One of the doctors I’ve consulted with says that while my G spot itself won’t change, accessing it may be easier due to the thinning of the vaginal walls.)

Speaking of which, you’ve probably also noticed that I haven’t pounced on you the second we’re both done working the way I used to. I still want to have sex, but it doesn’t feel as urgent as it used to in my younger days. And once I go through menopause, I won’t have the same monthly cycle where I feel hornier at certain times of the month based on hormones. My horniness is going to be more about feeling less stress, getting more sleep, and having time to relax with you.

My breasts sometimes feel more tender, so I prefer a lighter touch than I used to (but please don’t stop touching them!). My clitoris may be a little less sensitive due to the estrogen drop, and that may be why orgasms can sometimes be harder for me to reach. I know you know I have a few vibrators, but we’ve never brought one into bed with us. Let’s try that.

Think of my body like a ’67 Chevy Corvette. It doesn’t go from zero to 60 as fast as it used to. You have to be a little more patient with it. But you’re a man who understands that great things are worth the extra attention.

I’ll be home at five. Get those fingers lubed up.

Thanks to the professionals who helped me understand my own body better: Joan Price, “senior sexpert” and author; Susana Mayer, clinical sexologist; and Rebecca Dunsmoor-Su, M.D., chief medical officer for menopausal health resource Gennev.

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