Too Tired to Tango?



It’s Valentine’s Day, touted as the most romantic, sensual day of the year. But if you’re feeling less than frisky, don’t fret—you might just be stressed out, not turned off. “Woman are generally more stressed than men because women live multidimensional lives and expect themselves to excel at everything—as mothers, wives, employees, volunteers, good daughters and good friends,” says Mary Lou Quinlan, author, television personality and CEO of New York-based marketing agency, Just Ask a Woman (justaskawoman.com).

Over the years, Quinlan’s organization has interviewed women on an array of topics. Her books on stress, Time Off for Good Behavior and What She’s Not Telling You, lay it all on the line.

“Women like to share their stress and get relief from talking to other women. A group of men can play golf for five hours without sharing personal information,” Quinlan says. “But if a group of women spends five hours together, they will have discussed all the stressors in their lives because they benefit from common ground.

“As women, we tend to think about everyone else all the time. And we inject this fervor into everything we do,” says Quinlan. “My organization has interviewed thousands of women over the last 12 years, and we have concluded that most women try to pack 38 hours of activity into a 24-hour day. One wife and mother confided that she actually appreciated her bout with strep throat because she spent two days in bed, and those turned out to be the two most relaxing days of her year.”

Quinlan adds that women have the smarts to deal with many challenges. But, she says, “Females seldom put themselves first, and are often afraid to ask their doctors the hard questions. Each woman needs to be an advocate for herself.”

This notion of self-advocacy applies to all areas of female health, including sexual wellness and the need for intimacy.

“As physicians, we were taught the Masters and Johnson model: desire, arousal, orgasm, cigarettes—and that’s great for the first 18 months of a relationship, but then desire naturally dwindles,” says Dr. Judith Hersh, OB/GYN, cofounder of Central Jersey Women’s Health Associates and medical director of the New Jersey Center for Sexual Wellness in Bedminster (908-532-0144; njsexualwellness.com). “Today, in counseling patients, I use the Basson model, which is more circular—being open to an advance, sex play, desire, satisfaction and intimacy.

“For women, sex isn’t always top of mind, so put a reminder in your iPhone or it might not happen,” she says. “Generally speaking, if you’re comfortable in your relationship, you are likely to be open to an advance. So just plan it and the desire will come. As for men, I always say, ‘Foreplay is taking out the garbage and putting the kids to bed so your wife can prepare for intimacy.’”

Experts agree that, as most couples get older, they still want to be intimate and sexual, but need creative ideas to help boost “wild monogamy” in the bedroom.

“You might adore macaroni and cheese, but you wouldn’t serve it every night, right?” says Hersh. “It’s good to spice up the menu now and then.”

Hersh and her colleague, sexuality educator Dr. Melanie Davis, sometimes recommend new techniques or novelty devices to patients. “Over-the-counter arousal enhancers or prescription medications might also be appropriate, and some patients are helped by a trained sex therapist,” says Hersh. “In fact, some suddenly liberated patients have actually skipped out of our office because they no longer feel shame or embarrassment.”

Physicians agree that many patients are simply too shy to ask delicate questions. And, when they do get up the nerve, they usually blurt out their concern at the end of their medical exam, as the doctor reaches for the doorknob. But experts say that these important health issues deserve more than a brief exchange at the conclusion of an appointment.

“Some women struggle with this. It’s not unusual for my patients to say, ‘I’m not into sex—what’s wrong with me?,’” says Dr. Joseph Ramieri, chair of the department of OB/GYN and Women’s Health, and attending physician at Atlantic Health System’s Morristown and Overlook medical centers.

“I truly believe that many issues in the bedroom are related to body image for both women and men. But sometimes women lose interest in sex because it’s painful and not satisfying, so it becomes a turnoff,” Ramieri explains.

“The most common complaint I hear from women over 50 is that they don’t enjoy sex anymore because it has become uncomfortable. This is a valid concern because, as hormone levels change, the circumference of the vagina actually shrinks in caliber,” he says.

“However, even past menopause, there are ways to make sex comfortable and satisfying, thanks to new low-dose hormonal creams and oral medications that can actually revitalize vaginal walls that begin to thin during perimenopause,” Ramieri notes.

“I can say with certainty that it’s not unusual for 60- and 65-year-old women with new men in their lives to resume sexual activity and love it, providing they are comfortable physiologically.

“Once physiological issues are handled, if there still is no desire, I recommend varying the predictable patterns of intimacy, and this might include trying some of the products on the market that can help put romance and fun back in the bedroom,” Ramieri adds.

The experts seem to agree that varying your moves under the sheets can be a pleasurable and healthy activity—so there’s no reason to sit on the sidelines anymore, ladies. Grab your partner and enjoy the dance.

Healthy Girls Have Better Sex

Take good care of yourself to look and feel your best. Other benefits will follow.

If you’re stressed out, your body could be trying to save energy—rather than seek pleasure—because it is depleted of the essential building blocks required to regulate estrogen and testosterone for a healthy sex drive. Take better care of yourself. Relax, exercise, read, chat with a friend, or enjoy a warm bubble bath.

Throughout perimenopause and menopause, female hormones become imbalanced. It’s easy to turn up your nose at the thought of sex when you’re hot flashing, dealing with moodiness and struggling with weight gain. Have a chat with your physician.

If you’re taking meds, they could be affecting your libido. Make a list of everything in your medicine cabinet and ask your doctor or pharmacist if your antidepressants, birth control pills or high-blood-pressure meds could be affecting your sex drive.

To feel healthy and amorous, it’s important to maintain good nutrition. Resist junk food, eat more fresh fruit and veggies and ask your doctor about vitamin supplements. But don’t starve yourself.

Communication is a big part of any relationship. If problems at home or work are making you angry or frustrated, open your heart and mind, talk it out and relieve your stress. Visit a counselor if you need help getting started.

If you and your partner have the urge, but your schedules just don’t jibe, trade off a Saturday night kids’ sleepover with another couple so that you are always assured of a little weekend romance time. Lots of people are in the same boat, so you might be surprised how easy it is to enlist help. And your youngsters will thank you for the sleepover!

Although your exterior may look 10 years younger, thanks to the wonders of Botox, injectables and plastic surgery, your interior still exhibits all the signs of aging including eventual thinning and drying of the vaginal membranes. Don’t be shy—ask your doctor about lubricants and low-dose hormonal creams and medications and reclaim your sexuality.

 

Shaking It up in the Boudoir

If you’re feeling too tired to tango, grab the one you love and get back in step!

Body image plays a big role in sexuality. “Dim the lights, play romantic music, put on something lacy and you’ll feel sexier and more confident,” says Randee Tucker, co-owner of Bardot Lingerie in Millburn (973-379-7474; bardotlingerienj.com). “We always encourage our clients to venture out of their comfort zone by wearing something to surprise and delight their partner.”

The Dain Shoppe in Morristown (973-539-7586; dainshoppe.com) is known as a tried-and-true resource for undergarments and dainty lingerie. But take a peek in Linda’s Closet, a tiny display area off the main sales floor, and you might be surprised to find boudoir heels as well as goodies embellished with feathers and some that require AA batteries. “We do a lot of business out of that little closet,” says owner Cathy Earnhardt. “Women across the state are spreading the word.”

Hot on the market right now are topical arousal oils. One such product, made in the Garden State by Semprae Laboratories, is Zestra (zestra.com), a hormone-free botanical formula. Available over the counter, it claims to “work effortlessly and within minutes by heightening sensitivity to touch for deep, pleasurable sensations, sexual satisfation and fulfillment.”  (In an effort to provide more information to our readers, Park Place editors might have to roll up our sleeves and do some field research on this product.)

Judy Gregorek of Toms River is a “sexpert” for Passion Parties (732-998-1452), a burgeoning business that hosts “ladies night in” home parties. “We help women discover their inner passion diva and we are a discreet resource for lotions, potions and things in motion,” Gregorek says.

After cocktails are served and products are ogled, each guest is invited to bring her checkbook into a private room to place an order—or not.  “Some women leave the party without purchasing anything. But they call me later, after they’ve thought about it, and when they’re ready to take something home,” Gregorek adds. Passion Parties then ships merchandise to clients in plain brown wrappers one week later. No, this is definitely not a Tupperware party, girls.


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