It’s been a long time since your partner’s been able to “get it up.” And truth be told, you’d grown accustomed to a platonic relationship. You haven’t missed the sex. Frankly, it was never all that great, anyway.
Now, thanks to the marvels of medical science, your man’s erectile dysfunction is a thing of the past. In fact, he may be more “vigorous” now than ever before—and more eager to test his newfound prowess. Which certainly presents you with a challenge. And some choices.
You can roll your eyes and sigh. You can respond in a way that communicates indifference or irritation and that perpetuates the status quo. And, indeed, if the lack of intimacy in your relationship reflects problems with trust or resentment, suddenly regaining the ability to have sex won’t mend the relationship—or make sex any more appealing.
But you could also analyze the reason for your mixed feelings. Maybe your lack of interest stems from remembering a former boring sexual rut. In all likelihood, you’re experiencing physical changes of your own that make it harder to respond to your partner’s new emotional and physical demands. Or maybe your own passivity contributed to the lackluster sex—you always took the passenger seat, never the driver’s seat.
But could it also be possible that your partner’s new ability could be the catalyst for a renaissance of romance in your golden years? For an unexpected reawakening of desire and intimacy? Stranger things have happened.
Embracing this new situation enthusiastically needs to take place at two levels: first, rekindling the emotional connection in the relationship and second, fine-tuning your body to be a sexual creature again. For women, sexual desire and arousal is part of a complex brew of intellectual belief and emotional feelings about yourself, your partner, and sex in general. You need to feel emotionally connected to your partner in order to respond well sexually. For men, it’s just the opposite: It’s the sex that creates intimacy.
Working on the intimacy that can rekindle desire can be as pleasurable and easy as spending time together, lingering over coffee in the morning, taking a walk, holding hands. Remember the romance? Even if you don’t, it isn’t too late to learn.
Second, you’ll need to recondition your body, especially if you’re dealing with menopausal changes. Consider yourself an athlete in training. Regular use of vaginal moisturizers may improve the overall health and condition of your vagina. Don’t overlook the use of lubricants during sex, which not only improve comfort, but can also make intercourse more exciting. You might benefit from a regimen of vaginal dilators to improve your “vaginal capacity.” Talk with your doctor about using a topical estrogen product in your vagina, which can improve elasticity and lubrication, or your doctor might recommend testosterone therapy to boost your libido. In fact, talk to your doctor about any sexual issue that arises; it’s his or her job to have resources to help.
While you’re working on rekindling intimacy and rebuilding your sexual muscle tone, you can also take an active role rebuilding your reinvigorated sex life. It’s too easy to write off sex as a nuisance when you haven’t done anything to change the script. You now have a second chance and the maturity to create the sex life you always wanted as a full and equal partner. Experiment. Play. Communicate.
In the end, your partner’s newfound prowess could be a catalyst for reenergizing your relationship and for rekindling passion. The process may be uncomfortable; it may be a little scary, even; and it will definitely take work. But doesn’t anything worthwhile?
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.