For all of the glory of youth, we joyfully trade in the chaos and uncertainty for the wisdom and solid sense of self that we begin to relish as we enter our 40s. The 40s are absolutely fabulous, we still have strong sexy bodies, we have a clear sense of what we want and what we don’t want, often there are no suckling babes on our breasts, we can sometimes afford to go on weekends away……and, we get to enter a new age, a new era, perimenopause. This mystery word, this mystery phase has been a shadow land in our culture. Rarely discussed, hardly understood, women often go through this right of passage silently, imagining all symptoms unrelated and not relishing in the glory.
Due to the rise and fall of hormones during this time, it’s hard to pinpoint the “when” of perimenopause. Symptoms come and go and can be so elusive that they can be unnoticed. For me, one of the first symptoms was a shift in my libido. I have always chalked it up to having been with my partner for a decade and a half, 2 kiddos, grief, sleepless nights, being too cold, being too hot, etc. It wasn’t until I really started to talk to my friends about my slowing sex life that I began to realize most women in their 40’s develop large shifts in their libido (albeit the very lucky few have a huge increase in their sex drive, the majority of us experience a decline.)
It makes perfect sense that as our fertility wanes our bodies no longer feel that adolescent desire to bump n’ grind, however, most of us still identify with being sexual beings and are not at all ready to let that part of us go. We want to feel a great desire for our partners or crave some solo play now that we have more space and time for ourselves. Orgasms are lovely after all, they release serotonin, help us relax, feel connected, and feel able to embody our sexual selves.
I have become very curious about ways to reconnect with my libido and have found a few things to be quite successful.
Maca- this nutritive root from the Andes is full of vitamins, minerals, and amino acids as well as has a deep tradition of use as a libido enhancer. It's wonderful to increase energy and elevate mood and paired with cacao it makes an absolutely delicious beverage that could be called one of the most enjoyable aphrodisiacs.
1 tsp maca, 1 TBSP cacao powder, a pinch of cinnamon, and a pinch of ginger mixed with 1 cup of your favorite milk–served hot or cold.
There are loads of herbs that can have a huge impact on libido and support general well-being during the perimenopausal and menopausal years. Starting early, even before symptoms set in, can dramatically improve these transitions. Chat with an herbalist such as Liz Philbrick of Wild Rose Women’s Health about your specific symptoms and which herbs and nutritional choices may be best for you.
Dancing- either alone or with a partner, dancing with ample hip movement helps to reconnect the body and mind. Sometimes not feeling sexual is a matter of not feeling connected with your body. Find a funky groove, something that lends to slow and thoughtful movement, bend your knees deeply, and play with feeling all the ways your pelvis moves–try twerking, pelvic circles, and figure 8’s.
Use lube- As we age our bodies change (no s*#t right?) and one of the earliest physical shifts is in our natural vaginal lubrication. As our estrogen levels shift, our bodies often don’t produce as much moisture no matter how turned on we are. Rather than getting into your head or feeling weird about it, just use lube. Lube is an amazing accouterment that has an antiquated taboo. Lube literally and always just makes sex better. Even before you are feeling in the mood, apply a good quality lube and see if it doesn’t begin to ignite some desire. Always and only use a lube that is good for your body like Lark Love, our all-organic personal lubricant that is formulated with plants and hyaluronic acid to be ultra slippery and leave your tissue supple long after use.
Just do it- Remember the saying “sleep begets sleep”, it has recently dawned on me that sex begets sex. Try to commit to having an orgasm a day (solo or partnered) for one week and see if this doesn’t jog your memory about how great it is and how little time and effort it actually takes.
Make joy a daily practice. I find it best to start the day with rituals that bring joy and openness to the heart. Read poetry, practice yoga, go on a morning walk and chat with the birds, and listen to a song that does it for you. Bringing your gratitude and serotonin levels up first thing lends to an open heart and an open heart often means an open and receptive body, which can lead to a desire to get jiggy.
Remember that your beautiful body is a wonderland and own it.
Corrie Bradley, perimenopausal co-founder of Lark Naturals, clinical herbalist.