Saturday, May 22, 2010
Peaks and Potholes: Being 40 with a Sexual Catch-22
I recently celebrated my 40th birthday. I was not worried about turning the big 4-0 as I have never really been that concerned about my age. Through the years I have not been overly anxious about my changing face (what are a few wrinkles?), my sagging skin (so I am not as firm as I used to be), my grey hair (that’s what a salon is for), or my post baby body (which is a whole other blog all together). I am young at heart, still love to have fun and I basically feel like I am in my twenties. I can manage the slight aches (that is what Motrin is for) and the rising blood pressure (fine, I will exercise more), and the increase in doctors appointments for myself (seriously, a mammogram EVERY year?). Overall I am thinking this aging thing is not so bad.
I have been married to Ted for almost 12 years (which is probably encouraging my rising blood pressure). We have 4 children, 8 pets, 2 full time jobs and a house that is never clean enough. We have our struggles and certainly our bad moments, but we are lucky to be a couple who truly like and enjoy each other’s company. Don’t get me wrong, there are many days I would happily throw him off the roof, but still, he is my favorite person on earth. Among this crazy life we have traversed the ups and downs of an intimate relationship, but generally our life between the sheets has been satisfying for both of us, every time (a little shout out of appreciation there to my darling husband for all his efforts). I was cruising happily along through the years (okay, mostly happy), with my husband, my family, my friends, and my house. Unfortunately my hormones had other plans, big plans, just for me.
As I approached and have now reached my 4th decade of life I have finally hit my sexual peak. What used to take my body half an hour to achieve between the sheets is easily achieved in mere minutes (if that) and is generally more intense and pleasurable. I even have a full appreciation for that elusive myth of “multiple” achievements at one time (maybe there is a GOD). I have heard it before: men peak in their early 20’s and for women it’s a bit later. For me it was the second trimester of each of my pregnancies (thank you hormones!) and around 38 1/2 years old. Finally, something to REALLY appreciate as I age.
Everything was bumping along smoothly until my hormones drove me straight into a pothole in October of 2009, when I actually hit the big 4-0. Literally in a weekend I changed from being a sex goddess of happiness (my husband is rolling his eyes now, but I can dream) to a raving bitch on a roller coaster of moodiness, cramping and all out grouchiness. The hormones of my 40-year old body are strikingly similar to my pregnancy hormones, and I cringe just remembering any one of the many incidents during those combined 40 months of fun. On top of my delightful personality change, my body (of which I have been oh so proud) began to betray me as well. My cycle changed and the period I have been able to set my watch by for over 25 years is suddenly all out of whack. The PMS and need for feminine hygiene products lasts 3-4 weeks at a time. No more of the simple five day period, oh no, now it is more like there are only 5 days in a month without it!!! The general result of this is that I am hiding Tampax in every spot imaginable and running to the bathroom like a 15-year old girl. Because my hormones are so out of control, I am in a constant state of PMS. Not just your run of the mill, might-be-a-bit-moody-for-a-day-or-two, but all out psycho-bitch PMS. Oh, excellent!
While I am a lunatic, I am able to control the rollercoaster of my quickly shifting moods at work, with my friends, and (mostly) with the children. The only person with whom I let my crazy flag fly is my husband. It just so happens he is also the only person I am intimate with. (And he with me, right? Right!) My husband is the type of guy for whom being intimate is not just about his body, but also about his head. He is always most enthusiastic when we are emotionally connected. He finds romance coupled with intimacy very erotic. I don’t disagree with this. I am happy to feel the power of our love rush through my head, but currently I’m much more interested in scratching the itch. “Yes, I know I have bitched at you all weekend. Now shut up and take your clothes off!”
This irony of my responsive body and its inevitable hormonal betrayal, reminds me of when I had given birth to our first baby. A couple of days had gone by and my milk had come in. My chest was huge. I mean, I had porn star, rock hard, gorgeously enormous boobs. However, they were too tender to touch and the nipples were not quite what they used to be due to the cracking and bleeding, and my husband learned it is a cruel, cruel world. Well, here we are again. Suddenly my body is very responsive to his every touch and I would be happy to engage in an afternoon delight every day (seriously honey, 3 of them are at school and the baby is asleep…we have at least a half an hour!). However, I am so crabby he is in fear of getting too close as he is not 100% sure that I’m not part black widow. As a result, he does not want to be intimate with me, which pisses me off, makes me even more crabby (if you can believe it), which in turn makes him want to be intimate with me even less. And the cycle continues.
I understand how difficult I can be to live with, truly I do. I work really hard to control it and remain calm, even pleasant. I have learned that my husband does not find it sexy when I eat cookie dough for dinner. If I avoid cleaning the house and all of my daily motherly responsibilities so I can beat another level of Wii: Super Mario Brothers or watch a four-hour marathon of Grey’s Anatomy, Ted does not see this as attractive or cute. He does not find it a turn on to come home and discover that my Facebook status reads something like, “I am unfit for human company,” (as it did recently). I don’t really see why that should diminish his desire to have lots of fun, fast sex with me. I mean, orgasms feel really good, it would be worth it!
My mother tells me she experienced peri-menopause from age 40 to 50, and it appears my system is acting suspiciously as hers did. I have not yet mentioned that to Ted though, as our marriage barely survived the four pregnancies. By my calculations, 10 years of this would be 120 months of these rogue hormones, and I am pretty sure my husband may commit a felony to ensure he’d be incarcerated for the next decade.
Fortunately, at this point in our life together I am not pregnant. I can take medicine or maybe ask for an endometrial ablation (that’s right, I would prefer to sear the crap out of my uterine lining with boiling hot water than continue on this hormonal marathon). I am done with my uterus and I would be quite happy to have it stop all its shedding. The words barren, dried out, and empty have never sounded so good and they cheer me slightly as I dream about returning to my sexual peak of 38 1/2 and the cheery, dynamic housewife that I was—leaving this cranky, miserable bitch behind.