We are learning more and more about what motivates women to have sex -- enough to know that we still don't know that much.
We do know that our motivations change with our situations. What motivates us when we're young and single is very different from what motivates us when we're older, and in long-standing relationships, or older and single.
So when we suffer from lack of desire -- are we missing the sort of drive we had when we were teenagers? And is it possible we just haven't found a new motivation for sex?
The more we learn from women, the more it seems that for us sex doesn't always begin with lust, but instead starts in our hearts and minds. We engage in our heads first, decide to have sex, and then with enough mental and emotional stimulation, our genitals respond. The older we grow, the more this is true. Age and maturity bring a new game into the bedroom.
For us, having sex is less an urge than a decision. One we can choose to make and then act upon. When we decide to say yes instead of no, decide to schedule sex instead of waiting (perhaps for a very long time…) for our body to spontaneously light on fire, decide to engage with media or methods that will put us in the mood rather than wait for romantic moments to happen along, we're using our heads to keep sex in our relationships.
Deciding to be intimate unlocks the pleasure. And the more sex we decide to have, the more sex we will feel like having. That's the secret to regular bonding.
Why just decide to do it? This much we know:
* Sex, like all exercise, helps protect us against heart attack and possibly stroke.
* Hormones released during sex may decrease the risk of breast cancer and prostate cancer.
* It bolsters the immune system.
* Sex before bed helps us get to sleep.
* Of course, sex burns calories.
* Sex can help relieve chronic pain, including migraines.
* An active sex life is closely correlated with overall quality of life.
* Good sex can protect us against depression.
* Good sex reduces stress and increases self-esteem.
* Sex with your significant other stimulates feelings of affection, intimacy and closeness.
Making sex a focus in your life as you get older doesn't make you unusual. A study by AARP found that 66% of women age 45-59; 48% of women age 60-74 and 44% of women over the age of 75 believe that a satisfying sexual relationship is important to their quality of their life.
We think those numbers would be higher if women knew they could engage in thoroughly satisfying sex without waiting around for desire. Just by using their heads.
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.