It Gets Better

No One Told Me What Sex Would Be Like In My 40s

If you thought your desire to be intimate has shriveled up and died forever, keep the faith.

woman in her 40s feeling good about her sex life
LWA/Dann Tardif/DigitalVision/Getty Images

If someone had told me in my late 20s that in about 20 years, my libido would be back in full swing, I would have laughed in their face.

At 28, after my first child, my sex drive was nonexistent. I figured it would come back after my body healed or I got into a routine or when I was able to stop wearing maternity clothes. It didn’t. After having two more kids, I kept waiting for the part of me that left — the part that liked sex and the connection that came with it — to come back in her full glory. I waited and waited. Yes, I was touched out when my kids were toddlers. I was so tired at the end of the day that it was the last thing I wanted to do.

But I felt like there was something more to it. Like, I never thought about sex. The thought of it almost repulsed me, and I thought I’d be this way forever. My friends who were a similar age shared they felt the same way, so I knew I wasn’t alone. Talking to them made me feel better, but still, it bothered me. My (then) husband and I did everything to get that old spark back. Every time we were intimate, I felt like a robot just going through the motions. Nothing got me going, I’d stopped having any sexual thoughts, and I began to think that time in my life was just…over.

Then I turned 40. I’m still not sure if it was that my kids were getting older and needed me less or if was accepting myself. Maybe it was a shift in hormones, or perhaps it was a combination of all of those things. It didn’t happen overnight, but the gradual change in how I felt about sex was a huge relief to me. Whatever the reason, I was relieved to begin to feel like myself again.

I believe I needed a respite from intimacy. I wasn’t feeling it at all when my kids were little, and I wish I hadn’t beat myself up so much about it. We need to normalize that some people have a sex drive that’s non-existent. It might last for months, and it might last for years. Sometimes, it’s just part of who somebody is.

I’m 47 now, and I have a bigger appetite for intimacy than I ever have — and it seems to get better the older I get. I’m not saying there is a magical cure out there, or every woman will start to feel like her frisky twenty-something self once she hits 40.

But if you’re where I was and starting to wonder if your desire to be intimate has shriveled up and died forever, keep the faith. Once I noticed a shift in how I was feeling I leaned into it. I have more confidence, and more life experience and I’m not afraid to ask for what I like while being intimate. And my sex drive is better than ever.

Motherhood is hard. It takes a lot out of us, and there’s nothing wrong with focusing on stuff besides sex. But if it's upsetting or worrying for you, or you miss wanting that part of your life, just know there’s a good chance your libido is going to come back bigger and better than before. (And if it doesn't, and you're good with that, that's okay, too.) Sex is supposed to be fun, enjoyable, something you want to do — not a constant source of stress.

Katie Bingham-Smith is a full-time freelance writer living in Maine with her three teens and two ducks. When she’s not writing she’s probably spending too much money online and drinking Coke Zero.