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orty may be the new 30, but
considering the misconcep-
tions about women’s sexuality and desir-
ability after a “certain age,” you’d think
40 was the new 80! Whether you blame
advertising portrayals of what’s “sexy”
(Victoria’s Secret models, anyone?), or
the fact that leading TV and movie roles
turn more to the matronly than the hot
as actresses age, myths about a more
mature women’s sexuality abound. “We
silently believe that only young people
have sex,” says Maureen McGrath, RN,
a sex-health educator and radio host. But
that couldn’t be further from the truth.
Here, eight myths we’re happy to dispel
for you.
Myth 1: You don’t need sex as you get
Truth: It’s hard to redefine what the
need for sex is after you’re done
baby-making. And sure, you won’t die
without sex; it’s not food or water. But
that doesn’t mean you need it any less
than other things that bring joy, satisfac-
tion and better emotional and physical
health. “Sex gets blood flowing, which
brings nutrients to all parts of your body
and eliminates waste. Heart pumping,
deep breathing—it’s all good for you,”
says Carmella Sebastian, MD, a wom-
en’s wellness and sexuality expert.
Myth 2: Those extra pounds make
you undesirable.
Truth: Repeat after us: Enjoying sex
isn’t about how you look, but how you
feel. “You can have inner confidence at
any weight,” says McGrath. That said,
if you’re not feeling your best, go for a
brisk, 30-minute walk with your partner
rather than have another helping of pasta
at dinner. And try to quash that inner
monologue that’s telling you men don’t
find less-than-perfect bodies sexy. Ask
any guy: If the woman who shares his
bed gets naked, he’s not seeing a muffin
top and cellulite. He’s seeing naked.
If you’re single now and worried that
a new lover won’t find you desirable,
forget that too. “Your lumps, bumps and
wrinkles mean nothing to 99% of men
over 40,” says Bobbi Palmer, founder
and CEO of Date Like a Grownup.
“What you lack in firmness you more
than make up in humor, compassion and
experience. Plus, you know your body
better than you ever did in your 20s.”
All those years living in your skin has
taught you what turns you on that you
just didn’t know two decades ago. And
what’s sexier to a man than a woman
who knows what she wants in bed?
Myth 3: Your body isn’t sexual once
you enter perimenopause.
Truth: The changes that occur in the
(sometimes) years before menopause,
such as irregular periods, mood changes
and lack of vaginal lubrication will af-
fect your sex life. But a changing body
is still a sexual body, says Dr. Sebas-
tian, and recognizing that is important.
Avoiding sexual activity may only
worsen things. Take dryness: Using a
lubricant such as KY Jelly helps, but
so does the act of having sex: “When
blood goes to the genitals, the tissues
remain healthy,” encouraging natural
lubrication. Hot flashes and fatigue
associated with perimenopause can
wreak havoc on your energy levels, says
McGrath, so talk to your doctor about
possible hormonal remedies. And look
on the bright side: This can be a time of
experimentation and freedom with sex
that you didn’t have when young kids
were underfoot. “Introduce a vibrator,
experiment with self-stimulation, try
new positions,” suggests McGrath.
Myth 4: You’re too tired for sex.
Truth: This one persists for good rea-
son—it makes sense that you’d be more
worn-out now than you were 20 years
ago. But it’s more likely that “I’m too
tired” is an excuse to avoid sex. Being
chronically out of energy can trigger
a sex drive dip, so ask your doctor to
check your thyroid levels and test you
for anemia, says McGrath. And look at
your lifestyle: Maybe you need to pare
down your commitments and get better
sleep by regulating your bedtime and
removing un-sexy (and rest-interfering)
TVs and computers from your bedroom.
Other than that, “don’t wait to have sex
until the end of the day when you’re