Updated: Apr 4
A recent article in NYT, "Setting Couples on the Path to a Richer Sex Life" by Alix Strauss, set me on a path of searching through multiple resources published online, talking to friends, and sifting through a lot of statistics.
I was looking for an answer to a simple question: How much sex should I have in midlife? What is too often, and what is not often enough? What is the healthy amount?
The most common scenario was anywhere between 1 to 5 times per week. That’s a big spread.
I tried to narrow it down. It appears that middle-aged men think about having sex 5-7 times per week and would be satisfied with having one about 3-5 times per week. Middle-aged women think about sex 3-5 times per week and would be happy with having sex 3-5 times per week.
"There is a big difference between sex and intimacy," said Cyndi Darnell, a sex therapist interviewed in the article mentioned above. "Not everyone wants sex with intimacy or intimacy with sex." She further commented on other misconceptions about intimacy and sex: “That good sex is spontaneous, simultaneous, and mutually orgasmic – that’s a lie. That sex is intercourse – also a lie. That desire is essential to have good sex. It’s not. And that men and women are profoundly different, not true.”
Hmmm, a lot to ponder about.
Many resources for middle-aged women are very vocal about the "Use it or lose it" mantra when discussing sex during perimenopause and menopause. Sexual arousal and orgasm improve the blood flow to your sex organs. This improved blood flow can reduce vaginal atrophy or lessen its severity. More blood flow also reduces dryness which helps maintain a healthy vagina.
Having sex more often (solo or partnered) is crucial for encouraging healthy blood flow to the vaginal tissues. That, in turn, keeps tissues stretchier and more lubricated, which can make intimacy more comfortable./1./
Well, friends, if we want to stay healthy, we need to try to have sex every other day. Spontaneous or not, ready or not. Put it on your daily schedule, like going to the gym or walking. You know what I mean, 3000 steps per day. You might not always feel like going to the gym. Still, you will go because you know it's healthy and good for you, and when you are there, you will start liking it, and when you are finished, you will be happy and satisfied and return for more. Unless your gym instructor sucks, and in that case, please read my infidelity blog post before you jump onto any wild and crazy adventure.
Follow the link to cast your vote in the Fun Stuff Forum poll!
Your friend just confided to you that she is having an affair.
Before jumping to conclusions, let's look at some infidelity statistics to see how much cheating is going on. An estimate from the journal of Marriage and Divorce concludes that 70% of married Americans cheat at least once in their marriage. That sounds awfully high. Most other resources estimate that 30 to 60% of married couples will cheat at least once in the marriage. A 2021 survey by Health Testing Centers polled 441 people and reported: a little over 46% of respondents in a monogamous relationship said they had affairs.
97% of American adults believe it is wrong to engage in extramarital sex.
And over 90% of Americans consider infidelity immoral.
But around 30% to 40% of Americans cheat on their partners.
So, despite that, almost all of us believe it’s immoral and wrong, cheating happens often. Nobody wants to get cheated on, but many of us will.
There are three basic personal belief systems regarding affairs.
1/ affairs are not talked about but are generally accepted as a part of life without a lot of moral judgment
2/ affairs are considered as an act of ultimate betrayal and, as such, are morally unacceptable and never forgivable
3/or somewhere in between the 1/ and 2/, where affairs are painful, but couples try to forgive and move forward
Let’s be realistic. Someone is going to get hurt. Betrayal by an intimate partner comes with immense pain and trauma. All the parties involved will experience loss, pain, and regret in some form.
Now try to understand your friend’s situation.
Is she having an affair because she is dissatisfied with her current relationship and feels unloved, unhappy, not understood, and not appreciated? Did she try over and over in the past to communicate this to her partner, but things never changed?
Or does she feel ok in her current relationship but looks for novelty and excitement because her intimate needs are not well addressed? In other words, did the lust for immediate satisfaction temporarily outpace her willingness to be respectful and loyal to the love and relationship she has waiting at home?
Affair is obviously not a good solution to either of the above situations. It's a symptom that something went wrong; something is missing.
In the first scenario, the affair might reflect the irreparable damage already done. I think temporary separation and honest discussion could clarify the relationship.
The second scenario could reflect a temporary glitch in the relationship; honest communication could help to forgive and move forward.
Easily said than done.
Should your friend admit to infidelity or continue to hide it?
The statistics say that roughly half of the cheaters either get caught or admit to infidelity for other reasons, like STD or fear of one, or just plain guilt.
Outcomes of admitting to infidelity:
· 54.5% The relationship/marriage was broken up immediately.
· 30% The couples tried to stay together but eventually broke up.
· 15.6% The couples are still together.
Source: Health Testing Centers
Chances are roughly 50% that your friend will get caught, and if she gets caught, the chances of a breakup are about 85%. Looks like she should brace herself for a rough year. But hopefully, she will have you standing by her side.
Given that infidelity produces such adverse personal and relational consequences, yet people are known to cheat, the question becomes:
Why risk it? Why Do People Cheat?
· Falling out of love.
· For variety.
· Feeling neglected.
· Situational forces.
· To boost self-esteem.
· Out of anger.
· Not feeling committed.
Source: Psychology Today
And how about the rest of us? How could we decrease our chances of being cheated on?
This might seem obvious:
The #1 defense against cheating is a great relationship.
That means understanding your partner, encouraging honest communication with a lot of compassion and no judgment, be the go-to person for them. Anything you don't provide regarding emotional, intellectual, and physical needs opens a gap for someone else to fill.
Talk frequently and openly about sex and desires. Keep things fun and laugh together. Be attractive to your partner and try to make the relationship so terrific that your partner would never want to mess around and risk losing it. Share the deepest secrets within emotional and physical intimacy and be their best friend. Know things about them that their mom or friends don’t even know. Keep giving them reasons to love and value you. Embrace forgiveness. It will make you valuable in a way few others can replicate.
However, people occasionally cheat for reasons that have nothing to do with the quality of the relationship and, sometimes, despite being very sexually satisfied. My only advice there is: Run!
Join our discussion in the Forum and share your best defenses against cheating!
Updated: Jan 24
My friend recently asked me: "When did my vagina become so complicated?"
My first reaction was laughter and blaming it on menopause. Well, she found out later that she was pregnant. All her vaginal symptoms sounded just like perimenopause symptoms! Then I remembered another friend; she was in her late 40s and experiencing bloating, difficulty sleeping, and some vaginal symptoms. She blamed it on menopause, and guess what? She was pregnant as well. So, if you are experiencing some new "menopausal" signs, but you could still be fertile, get the pregnancy test ASAP.
Once you rule out the possibility of pregnancy, the "complicated vagina" question becomes pretty simple. Most of the time, it's the same reason as our dry skin. As we mature, our skin becomes dry, so we use creams, oils, and moisturizers. All kinds of moisturizers, with this and that added to them to prevent dryness. Over the years, we have spent thousands of dollars to address our dry or flaky skin. And we ignore the same changes happening below our bikini line. Have you ever paid $30, $40, or $50 for those delicate VS panties? Of course, you did! But when was the last time you spent anything on a fancy vaginal moisturizer? I bet it wasn't until you started to feel dry, and based on experts' opinions, that's kind of late.
The idea of facial moisturizers is to prevent or delay age-related changes. Well, the same goes for vaginal moisturizers. So why aren't the shelves at Walgreen, CVS, or BodyShop filled with all kinds of vaginal moisturizers addressing the prevention of changes? I don't know. Maybe it's not proper to publicly address something in your pants. But people buy tampons. And the famous Diva Cup, right? And silicon lubricants! So I think it's just attitude. And denial. And lack of information. For example, everyone knows by now about the benefits of hyaluronic acid on the skin. But the same goes for the vagina! Who knew? It's much easier to prevent the dryness than to deal with it once it happens. But don't worry; not all is lost. Decreasing estrogen level plays a significant role; we know that. I don't understand why we are not offered estrogen-containing vaginal creams at an early age to prevent the changes. I know what you want to say, the risks of cancer, and so on. Still, we are offered botox (botulinum toxin) to inject into our faces starting in our 20s to prevent wrinkles! That can't be good in the long term, either. Why do our gynecologists wait to offer estrogen vaginal cream until the changes in the vaginal mucosa have already happened? I know, cancer and other bad stuff. But people choose to smoke, right?
I recently met a woman in her 70's. We met at an elevation of 11,000 feet, where she was happily skiing with her friends, looking fabulous. During our lunch, while she was enjoying a glass of wine, I asked her about her secret for maintaining youthfulness. She summed it up as keeping and maintaining healthy sexuality and everything related to it. I took a leap of faith and asked many personal questions about hormonal therapy, vaginal health, etc. She said she has been paying close attention to vaginal wellness since her thirties. Her friend, a spunky lady in her 70s, agreed and reiterated the importance of maintaining healthy sexuality.
Today, I am starting vaginal creams with estrogen, testosterone, and vaginal moisturizers with hyaluronic acid! And there was some other stuff that I am not that adventurous yet to try, but just in case, I will do my research and then let you know.