Sex advice with Suzi Godson: Why is it taking me longer to orgasm?

I’m a woman in my early 40s and I’ve found it takes much longer to orgasm than it did when I was in my 20s. Do you know why this might be? Is it common?

The bad news is that it is probably a natural part of ageing. The good news is that there are several things that you can do to help.

From their mid-30s, women’s bodies begin to change as hormone levels start to fluctuate. Some women don’t notice, but others find that their menstrual cycle becomes heavier, or more irregular, or PMT gets worse. After the age of about 40 the three main sex hormones become increasingly imbalanced, which can cause problems with sex and orgasm.

Individually, oestrogen, progesterone, and testosterone serve several functions, but collectively they are the key to desire and satisfaction. Progesterone is responsible for the surge in libido that women tend to experience before ovulation during a menstrual cycle, and as it declines so does desire. Oestrogen keeps the walls of the vagina healthy; in its absence the lining becomes more fragile.

Although women have significantly less testosterone than men, it plays an important role in female desire and sensitivity. From the age of 20 your production levels of testosterone start to go down very slowly, and by the age of 45 they will have dropped by as much as 50%. Only small amounts are produced after the menopause. Because these changes are not linear and testosterone can in some women be proportionately higher than oestrogen at points, this can lead to a surge in libido.

The decline in sex hormones means there is less blood flow to the genitals, so it takes a lot longer to become aroused enough to achieve orgasm. Anything that improves circulation will help to maintain sexual function through the menopause and beyond. Aerobic exercise will improve overall blood flow, while pelvic floor exercises target the pelvic area directly. Because it can be difficult to know if you are exercising the right muscles, Minna Life has developed a smart pelvic floor exerciser called the kGoal (€200). It links to an app that gives you guidance, tracking, biofeedback, and personalised workouts. Admittedly, it is pricey.

Regular sex encourages genital blood flow and lubrication, although as you age, using a good water-based or silicone lubricant will become more important.

As you get older, nerve endings gradually become less sensitive. This means that you typically need more stimulation to become aroused. Using a small bullet vibrator can help. Minna Life has produced a small squishy vibrator called the Minna Limon (€98), but it has had so many rave reviews that you have to join a waiting list. The Tenga Iroha (from €16.30, tenga.co.uk) is a good alternative.

Finally, biological transitions and hormonal fluctuations
provide a logical explanation for delayed orgasm, but don’t overlook general stress, physical health and relationship issues. Women in their 40s are often juggling children, jobs, and ageing parents, not to mention being in relationships that may be showing signs of wear and tear.

In the large 2009 US study Women’s Health Across the Nation, depression and anxiety were understandably associated with a deterioration in sexual function, but “feelings toward one’s partner” were identified
as one of the most important
factors influencing sexual
satisfaction.

You don’t say who you are
having sex with, but it would be worth sharing with them what you have shared with me. After all,
if it takes you longer to orgasm perhaps the simplest solution is for you both to take longer having sex.


n Send your queries to suzigodson@mac.com


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