A. Sex should never be all about the end game because you get so much from it even if you don't climax. In long-term relationships, couples are often not in the same frame of mind when sex starts, and that naturally has an impact. If your partner has been thinking about sex all day while you have just switched off your laptop after a day of video conferencing, it's going to take you a while to catch up. If you don't care either way, why not be honest? He can always make it up to you another time.
There is absolutely no point in faking orgasm. Women almost always do it to preserve their self-esteem or please a new partner, but if the relationship survives, it becomes a spectacular own goal. If you know you won't get there, why not indicate as much. You might find it awkward the first time, but it will set a precedent for openness, which will benefit your entire relationship and intimacy.
A. This can be the case, but it doesn't have to be. Like every other muscle in your body, the pubococcygeal muscle loses strength unless you make an effort to keep it in shape. The easiest way to do this is to keep having orgasms, either alone or with your partner. Doing Kegel exercises will strengthen your pelvic floor muscles and will make orgasm more intense. Although you can do Kegels without any equipment, it is worth checking out the award-winning Elvie Trainer, a small insertable device that monitors your pelvic floor movements and provides feedback via an app. Being able to see what you are doing can be more motivating than trying to visualise yourself squeezing an internal lemon.
A. In the past 20 years sex-toy technology has revolutionised female sexual pleasure. The toxic jelly rubber rabbits of the '90s have been replaced by ergonomic designs made from supersoft, medical-grade silicone, and the feeble battery-powered buzz is now a powerful, silent rechargeable motor. In midlife, power is key. Neuropathic degeneration occurs naturally with age, but it means that older women require much stronger stimulation than younger women. I have found that for a woman aged over 50 the Womanizer or the Lelo Sona are good choices. They deliver turbo-charged stimulation, but don't even vibrate. Instead, they create sonic airwaves that pulse around the clitoris and can bring on incredibly powerful orgasms in minutes.
A. Your libido is your appetite for sex, and like your appetite for food, it will respond differently depending on what's on offer. Many women blame menopause for a decline in libido when they hit their 50s, but women who divorce in midlife and start dating again suddenly find that their appetite for sex has miraculously reappeared. In any long-term relationship, sex will wax and wane, but if you make time for romance, foreplay, intimacy and experimentation, you will find that your appetite for sex increases accordingly. If a low libido is just one symptom of a more general decline in how you are feeling, it is worth making an appointment with your GP to get your hormone levels checked.
A. The average age for a woman to reach menopause is 51, so you are almost certainly peri-menopausal. During the run-up to menopause levels of the sex hormones oestrogen and progesterone gradually decline. However, levels of testosterone can remain relatively stable. This can create a temporary imbalance where the amount of testosterone in your body is relatively higher than the amount of oestrogen and progesterone, and this can create a sex-drive surge at a time when you might expect the opposite to happen. Enjoy it while it lasts.
A. In couples with mismatched desire, it is the person with the lower sex drive who maintains control in the sexual relationship. When your partner says no, sex doesn't happen, which isn't great for you. There are numerous explanations for low libido in men. For some it is a physical response to illness, medication or declining testosterone; for others it has a psychological cause or is a reflection of unhappiness in the marital relationship. Because virility is so closely tied to the idea of 'maleness', men tend to bury their heads in the sand and pretend that nothing is wrong, but avoiding the issue doesn't make it go away. The definition of a sexless marriage is one where sex happens less than ten times a year. If that's where you're at, he should talk to a doctor. A prescription of Viagra or Cialis might be all it takes to boost his mojo, but if the issues are deeper you might benefit from talking to a sex therapist or a relationship counsellor.
A. I know it's much easier to have sex than it is to talk about it, but this is a huge missed opportunity. Broaching the conversation means you have to be willing to make yourself vulnerable and trust that he will respond appropriately, but it is so worth doing. If you can give yourself an orgasm, your partner can give you one too. You just need to show him how.
Block out some time and show him precisely how you pleasure yourself. Then it is your partner's turn. Guide him through the process, but keep your mind focused on the sensations you are experiencing. It may be easier for you to do this if you wear a blindfold. Get your partner to use lubricant and even a vibrator. Take your time and keep going until you break through the 20-year barrier. Then crack open the champagne and congratulate yourselves.
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