“What if women had their own money, and they had their own power? What does their sexuality look like? It looks a lot like Samantha Jones,” said Sex and the City author Candace Bushnell.
I vividly remember admiring Samantha in my 20s, thinking that when I’m in my 40s, like her character, I want to live with the unapologetic confidence and sexuality that she exudes. Watching the show again — now in my 40s — I’m met with the very real experience of having my own money (although not that much), finding my own power, and discovering that sex as a 40-something GAL is really the best yet, for all these reasons and more. When talking with other women my age about sex, I was thrilled — and curious — to find many feel the same way. There’s a reason we’re rocking Samantha vibes, and here’s why you might be, too:
Lights on! One of the wonderful things about maturing is growing to love your body. According to a recent study, we women become more confident in our bodies as we age (with 60 being the most satisfied). While the uptick is gradual and the reasons aren’t absolute, scientists believe it’s because we place more value on our bodies’ functions (we procreated, ran marathons, earned PhDs), over the ways we look. We also understand that Western sociocultural standards of beauty are BS, and if a partner is in our bed, it’s not because of the size of our waistlines.
It’s true! Although our sex-driving estrogen starts to dip during perimenopause, there’s a bigger biological factor in our desire — our brains. “Most of the libido is surprisingly not directly related to our hormonal state,” says OBGYN Dr. Suzanne Hall for natural hormonal support site, Bondafide.com. “As we enter into perimenopause and menopause, what affects our libido the most dramatically are psychosocial factors.” These factors could include improved self-esteem (hello, body confidence!), less caretaker responsibilities, and less work stress.
You’re not worried about baby-making.
According to the CDC, a 40-year-old has a 5% chance of getting pregnant each month, and after 45, fertility treatments can be used to help with conception. This can be good and bad news, understandably. For those who have partners with penises and who don’t want any or more kids, these facts can be very liberating in the bedroom. With unplanned pregnancy out of the equation, that libido brain is sure to have more room for other ideas — like which lube works best. (Of course, use contraception till menopause just to be sure.)
In Becoming Cliterate, Dr. Laurie Mintz writes, “No one can read minds, nor should they be expected to try.” Experience in the sack means you not only know what you want — but you know how to ask for it. Research in the International Journal of Women’s Health suggests that communication with partners encourages behaviors that increase the likelihood of getting off. Still, it goes on, “the first barrier to such communication is the woman herself knowing what is required for her to achieve orgasm.” By the time we’re in our 40s, we pretty much know.
We women face “contradicting societal messages at the intersection of ageism and sexual desire,” according to recent work in the Journal of Counseling Sexology & Sexual Wellness. An absurd importance placed on our sexual currency — being young, hot, and child-bearing — met by the vilification of overt sexuality can create an intense juxtaposition of shame. Add any intersectional stigma about sexual orientation, gender identity, ability or race, amongst others, and that’s a whole lotta fucks to carry. Luckily, when we hit 40, other people’s opinions of us take up less space in our heads, and by 46, according to a recent UK study, we officially give zero fucks.
Of course, we’re all different, and not everyone feels like a sex goddess in her 40s. If this is you, check out these helpful sex tips from Amber Drea, and give yourself permission to get your groove back.
(Photo: Mike Marsland, WireImage)
Beauty & Wellness Director. I bring a feminist lens to the articles that I carefully curate — this is my angle. But we’ve come too far to not also have some fun. Along with a personal mission to empower women, I uphold a lifelong love affair with the beauty industry and decades of bylines in beauty, wellness, and women-focused writing.
ON THE BLOG
In My Prime: interviews with women thriving in midlife
Pregnancy test and pregnancy over 40
Pelvic health: Everything women need to know
Adventures in Perimenopause, essays by women in perimenopause and menopause
What is perimenopause? An empowering guide to everything you need to know
Jumble & Flow art prints, home decor,
and apparel on Society 6
36 gift ideas for every Zodiac sign and horoscope-loving friends
Women's Health Glossary of Terms
6 of the best self-care techniques you’ll never find on Instagram
Ageism in the workplace
What are the best blenders according to ratings and experts?
What is middle age, and what age is officially old?
We're building The Midst
Because over the hill is so over and done with