Boomerangst: Turning Dilemmas Into Discoveries – Getting Naked Again
Love later in life. Here, advice for entering into a new physical relationship.
Q. I’m 62 and I’ve been a widow for the past six years. Recently, I met a lovely man, and we’ve started dating. We’re attracted to each other physically, but I haven’t had sex since before my husband died, and I’m concerned that it’s going to be uncomfortable, physically and emotionally. Any advice?
A. It’s only natural you’re feeling anxious. It’s been a while – we know at least six years – maybe longer depending on the kind of relationship you and your husband had before his death. And who knows how long it’s been for your new love interest. Chances are he may very well feel the same way.
But if you decide to take the plunge and you follow these basic first steps and intercourse is still uncomfortable, then you might need to speak to your doctor. And don’t worry if you do. You certainly won’t be alone.
A study released during the Canadian Menopause Society’s first annual conference in May reported that six in 10 Canadian women avoid intercourse because of vaginal dryness. It’s a symptom of vaginal atrophy, a common menopausal and post-menopausal condition where the vaginal walls become thin, fragile and inflamed due to a reduction of estrogen. The good news is there are effective treatment options available for most women through their doctors.
But keep in mind the mind and the body are intrinsically linked, especially when we’re talking sex, so even if medical intervention is called for, it alone is not enough to guarantee a satisfying sexual experience. That’s where open and honest communication comes in. You need to talk and feel comfortable with one another. The more at ease you are, the better the chances for a good experience.
“If there’s anxiety and fear, that’s going to interfere with the sexual response cycle – with things like arousal and desire, so sex can become painful,” says Dr. Rosen. “The physical and the emotional are always connected and one informs the other.”