Yup, Menopause Killed My Sex Drive
It was like something had turned off a switch down there — and now there was just zero interest.
One of the cruelest jokes of all is to find oneself perimenopausal in Paris, the city of lights and love and romance. There I was... all dressed up, so to speak, with absolutely no libido to go.
On paper, at least, the situation couldn't have been any more perfect. My partner and I were working in France for the year with an amazing apartment not far from the Eiffel Tower within walking distance to both of our offices, and the kids were happily ensconced in a French American school having a total adventure.
It should have been like a second honeymoon except my hormones were in complete rebellion. No, scratch that. They were all but MIA.
I'd read about how women going through perimenopause often experienced diminished libido, but I'd never expected it in my case. I actually still liked my partner and found him super attractive. We had often joked about my “dirty 30s” because things had remained quite frequent and fun in that department, but now that I was in my 40s, everything had shifted, and not in a good way.
It's not that I was overly busy work-wise or with the kids — I mean, I was, like most moms — but there was just a profound indifference, a kind of void of feeling about the whole thing, a big “meh...” when it came to sex.
I don’t want to say I was dead inside, but I'd honestly rather read or sleep or watch a true crime documentary than have sex. It had absolutely nothing to do with him. It was all me.
It was like something had turned off a switch down there. It also probably didn't help that he was trying so hard. And I was feeling so anxious about trying to get up my lady boner.
There was this one night when I came home where he'd gone all out. The entire apartment was aglow with candles and everywhere you looked were roses. He'd managed to get childcare and he'd even cooked. He’s more of a griller but does OK when he follows a recipe exactly to the letter. He stood there, so hopeful, with flutes of champagne, beaming with pride and all I could think of... was the 1977 song I Want You to Want Me by the band Cheap Trick — except in my head, I'd rewritten the lyrics as, “I WANT ME to want YOU... I NEED ME to need YOU, I'd LOVE ME to love to have sex with you right now, but I’m JUST NOT that interested and I’m really sorry…”
And what should have been a gloriously romantic evening in the vein of Emily in Paris turned into something more akin to an episode of The Odd Couple with me most definitely in the role of Oscar Madison (minus the cigar).
We laughed about it when I did my impromptu karaoke rewrite of Cheap Trick for him there in the living room, but needless to say, the night was a bust, nookie-wise.
I had to figure something out. I emailed my OB/GYN, but she said this was just part of menopause and that I might need to get creative in other ways or seek the help of a sex therapist.
I wasn't sure I was ready to go down that path just yet. I’d read a bunch of Sex with Emily columns and it just seemed like the issue was more physiological than psychological.
I started doing some research. It turns out there are all kinds of lubes with hot cinnamon and rose oil that sounded positively painful and like a UTI in a bottle, but that's when I stumbled on an article last year about half the world having a clitoris and why doctors weren’t actually studying it and that led me to a whole series of other articles about a sildenafil-based cream that's essentially the same ingredient used in Viagra for men, but when used as a topical cream for women causes far fewer side effects and well... makes you feel like getting it on and it’s FDA-approved.
I decided to give it a go and tried Blossom. I applied a few drops of the unscented, tasteless, hypoallergenic cream to the area in question, we started to fool around and I want to say... within 20 minutes, I definitely felt things ignite down there. But here’s the thing, stimulating things clitorally actually had this parallel effect on me mentally in the moment because I became so much less anxious about wanting to want sex — if that makes sense?
My partner could not have been more surprised (and delighted). But, more importantly for me, there was an increase in overall sensation due to blood flow because Blossom is a vasodilator and I had much more lubrication, so I not only enjoyed sex again but without turning this into a gratuitous E.L. James novel or some Parisian erotic thriller, it was probably the best fucking we have managed in years.
Without mincing words, my lady boner lasted about 45 minutes, which was honestly enough for me — none of the scary four-hour erection nightmares. And the best part was...we continued to have great sex as a result — because not only did it get me out of my funk, but it also got us back into a rhythm. Plus, if I’m ever feeling like my system’s off-kilter, because of all the ups and downs of perimenopause, at least now I know I have options. I’m just still laughing about the night he tried so hard to woo me. Evidently, roses weren’t the blossoms I needed. Lesson most happily learned.
Alisa Kennedy Jones is the mom of two daughters, an author, a screenwriter, and EIC of The Empress, a cultish weekly newsletter dedicated to obsessively curating a less hellish peri/menopause for women everywhere. Her next book THE EMPRESS AGE: Awakening Women’s Wisdom at Midlife to
Live Rule Your Best Life is due out in 2024.