"The notion that such persons are gay of heart and carefree is curiously untrue. They lead, as a matter of fact, an existence of jumpiness and apprehension. They sit on the edge of the chair of Literature. In the house of Life they have the feeling that they have never taken off their overcoats."
- James Thurber, My Life and Hard Times

Monday, February 23, 2015

Bringing Sexy Back... to Sixty

CAUTION: I AM GOING TO TALK ABOUT SEX TODAY. It may get uncomfortable. It will certainly get graphic, at least as graphic as I'm comfortable with. 

I know a few of my readers would rather not read about sex, and that's okay. You don't need to read any further. Go read Snoopy's blog instead, http://thatsmysnoopy.blogspot.com/2015/02/glasses-half-empty-glasses-half-full.html


When I first read August McLaughlin's invitation to the Beauty of a Woman BlogFest, I saw that if I got to participate I could pick the original blog, about beauty and how I see it, or I could talk about the beauty of female sexuality. (Note: Please do check out all the blogs on the blogfest. Go to http://www.augustmclaughlin.com/boaw15/ for more info - they're giving out prizes!) 

I'm more comfortable with talking about beauty, but a little voice in my head double-dog-dared me to talk about sex.

How can I refuse a double-dog-dare?

I was raised in your typical Puritan household, sexuality-wise. Good girls didn't think about sex, explore sex, acknowledge it in any way, until marriage. And then they "went along with it" in a passive kind of way, to please their husbands.

When I was little, my grandmother gave me The Talk, which included everything about babies and how they were born. She omitted the part about how they get there. When I was about to be married, my mother told me I'd have to buy a douche bag. I asked her why.

"Because it's messy and it smells, and you don't want to smell, too."

It's a miracle I had sex at all. 

But not only did I have it, I found out I liked it. I liked the physical contact, the intimacy of it all. I loved the buildup and release of an orgasm. And afterward, I loved that feeling of having shared something so wonderful with someone I loved.

As time marched on, I figured that's the way it would always work. Even more so, I looked forward to the days when my husband and I were no longer caught up in working and taking care of our son, and we could spend more time together doing whatever we wanted. Wherever we wanted. Whenever... well, you get the picture.

What I didn't realize was what time would do to my body. I was happy to not have to go through a monthly cycle, although the hot flashes nearly did me in. Then my doctor prescribed synthetic hormone replacement therapy, which made me feel better. 

After 55, I noticed that my skin was drier and had more wrinkles. I figured I was joining the club, of people who get old and look their age. Imagine my surprise as I turned 60, when my hubby and I were enjoying a romantic getaway and I found out that the dryness was inside as well!

Nobody told me about this part of growing older. I love my husband. I love our sex life. I don't love feeling like someone is sticking a rasp inside me and scraping me raw. Not only did it hurt, I felt badly for him, and I felt less sexy. A lot less sexy. Kind of like a shell of a person, not even a woman. I enjoyed my life, writing and riding and being with friends. But I didn't feel whole.

There's a lot no one tells you about growing older. Vaginal dryness is just one thing. I have a friend who has an autoimmune disorder that resulted in her labia drying out and sloughing off like dead cells. She's now on treatment, but what's lost is lost. 

Who knew that was a thing?

The sad part has been that, prior to talking to my friend about her disorder, I hadn't disclosed my problem to anyone else. Sex isn't embarrassing to me, but this dryness was. We definitely need to be talking about the changes as we grow older. Young women need to know this is not abnormal, it happens, and there are medicines and creams and oils to solve it. They need to know what to watch for, and to see someone as soon as something feels wrong.

As for me, I told my doctor about my problem and am now on a medication to plump everything back up. I've only been on it a few days, but my body is starting to feel like its old self. 

Soon I will be whole again. Sex will be beautiful, and I will be beautiful in it.


Marlyn Beebe said...

Well-written! I don't think I could be as open.

My up-bringing wasn't Puritan, it was completely repressed. My Talk with my mum was "Never lie down with a boy".

Gayle Carline said...

I didn't think I could be as open, either, but when I signed up to write a blog about sex for August's blogtour, I had to step out on that ledge and jump.

August McLaughlin said...

What a thoughtful, important post, Gayle! Thank you for stepping outside of your comfort zone to write it. I have no doubt you'll inspire others, as you already have, me!

Indeed, talking about the changes our bodies go through over the years is vital. I can imagine how scary it must be to experience vaginal pain and dryness, not realizing how common and, very often, manageable it is. Using organic lube, prioritizing sex and gaining any needed medical treatment can all work wonders.

Thanks also for participating in the fest!

Kate said...

I love your vulnerability, Gayle--way to meet your double-dog-dare!

I agree with you completely. It is so important that we talk about these things. It is amazing what we can learn from each other. Something that I've taken an interest in is learning how much diet, exercise, and mindset can affect pre-menopause and menopause. I know there are many women who are able to completely reverse all of their symptoms through those three things alone--without the needs for medications! Crazy sauce!

Thank you for such an insightful, and beautiful post <3

Anonymous said...

Thank you for your post. I know that kind of information can make a life changing difference for women and their partners.

Claudia Whitsitt said...

So proud of you, sister! I can't wait to see you again and compare notes.

Anonymous said...

Wow! I'd never heard the "douchebag" thing before. I thought that was just an expression for a jerk. Don't get me wrong, I know what a douche is. Summers Eve commercials pretty much guaranteed it, but I had no idea THAT was what people often used it for. Maybe I'm an odd duck, but I kinda like the scent of passion shared.

As for the rest, through the course of some research I'd done recently, I'd found out that not only is vaginal dryness a thing, it's a common thing...and August is absolutely right in how organic lubricants can help diminish that sensation of pain, along with help from your doctor.

Very cool, open post! Thanks for joining the party!

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