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Sex and Menopause/Perimenopause

Berkeley Parents Network > Reviews > Health & Medical > ObGyns > Sex and Menopause/Perimenopause


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Desire and Menopause

Dec 2010

I was wondering if some of you women (or men) can tell me about what things may be like at 50 with sex and/or romance. I am 50 and a single mom who has been out of commision for about ten years due to the stress of raising my child by myself and having been through a really unpleasant marriage and divorce. Now I am about to go through menopause and I fear that I may no longer desire sex after feeling that I have missed out on something so important for so long. I am told that I look good for my age and I work hard to stay at a good healthy weight. I worry that once my periods stop I will no longer desire sexual activity should I even be lucky enough to find someone I care about enough, or get up the courage to ask the guy out that I have admired for the last three years. If I stop having desire, that will be so sad because I already feel such a loss at being celebate for so long. What is sex like after 50? What are the problems and how does one get over them? I have no one to ask and I really want to know. Any advise will be appreciated. Still romantic so far


your awareness that you missed out is wrongly directed angst. you cannot change the past. why don't you ask that 'friend'/man you desire out for coffee, or an adult beverage. it's your life, only you can live it. your post indicates you already know the answer and you can enjoy life still. btw, i am a guy who has enjoyed sensuality with post menopausal women 50 plus is good
Women differ as much at fifty and beyond as they do before. Some decrease in desire and desireability, others increase in either or both. Finding an attractive person who finds you attractive increases libido at any age, so don't doom yourself with gloomy expectations. Two books (among many when you search the topic on Amazon.com) I recommend are ''Flings, Frolics, and Forever Afters: A Single Woman's Guide to Romance After Fifty'' and ''Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk About Sex After Sixty.'' Isadora
That is an excellent question. I can only speak for myself, since it seems to be different for everybody. But I have noticed that people really gloss over the effect that hormones have on our sex lives. Nobody warns us that when we are breastfeeding we aren't going to be that interested in sex, and ditto for menopause! It's all about the hormones.

So I will try to be honest with you. I'm in my 50's and in the midst of menopause - no periods for a couple of years but still the daily hot flashes. My interest in sex declined dramatically once my periods stopped. Compared to how I felt at 40 (high interest in sex) and how I feel now (take it or leave it), it's like polar opposites. However, I am in a second marriage that is still pretty new, and my husband thinks I'm desirable! Yay! Like, he finds me desirable a lot! One might even say, far too often! So I still would like to have sex, even though I don't actually desire sex, because I do love my husband so much, and sex is how he feels close to me.

There are technical problems with sex after menopause, though. The decrease in estrogen makes everything down there all dry and uncomfortable, even with plenty of lubrication. But you can talk to your obgyn about something like Estring, or even HRT for a few years, both of which I have used successfully. But it sounds like you aren't there yet. So my advice is, definitely do not even worry about this stuff. If you feel romantic right now, and you did sign your post as ''still romantic so far'', I say, yes! go for it! You will have a great time! Even if you get to the point where you don't feel that little flash of desire (and not everybody does get to that point), you will still feel love, and odds are that your partner will still desire YOU, so you just deal with the technical difficulties as they arise. All the best to you! berkeley mom


Hi - I wanted to thank you for being so honest expressing this question. I'm the same age, single parent who raised a special needs kid. I think there's a lot of shame, about women getting older, the dreaded M-word. It's like the opposite of beauty and I've felt really sad about it over the years for the reasons you describe, missing that wonderful thing in the prime of my life and on top of that maybe never having it now. I've felt anger that desire (can we talk, orgasmic quality and capacity) decreases due to hormones just when the risk of pregnancy disappears!

I had a married friend I opened up to who said: you never know how marriages really are inside, the grass isn't always greener. I think deep down she knew the huge loss I was talking about and it was too hard for her to let that be the subject. Not only not having had a partner but missing the boat without having boarded it! Related issue, the crucial importance of sexual attraction at the beginning of a relationship eventually beyond looks, my friend minimized that point too. I also had a female middle-aged OBGYN unable to really talk about this, who made me think I was speaking Greek.

Well, I decided I'm not giving in. I'm still having periods but I've felt desire decline very gradually since about 40, along with natural lubrication. Totally sucks! I take care of myself, I like men, I've had relationships. I looked into it medically and found, in order of effectiveness: methyltestosterone and I only took it every other day OR its bioidentical counterpart (wasn't as effective for me), bioidentical estriol once a week vaginally for improved lubrication OR its western medicine equivalent (harsher-''e-ring''?). Finally, after a ton of research I plan to work with bioidentical hormone balancing as a long-term thing. If the desire gets intolerably low. Important to read tons (start with Suzanne Somers and her bibliography) and find a doc who will go the distance with that - there aren't many. I even reached out to BPN on the bioidentical question and really no one was on board with using that to its utmost or even knowing much about it. (Prehaps the mean age is too young to care yet?) But in the short term, methyltestosterone is magic. The last time I was in a relationship, I started that about a month in advance and I just felt normal and up to speed with the guy!

Men slow down too, men look older, many of them appreciate the qualities of a real woman, and we live in an age of cosmetic choices. Don't Give Up


I'm a little bit over sixty and have numerous friends in my decade group. Everyone is different. Menopause may or may not inhibit desire, may or may not cause vaginal dryness, may or may not contribute to a variety of other pluses or minuses. Why worry about something that may never happen. If you do find your desire waning you can still have satisfying sexual relations and also find ways to spark desire if you want even more. perfectly satisfied
I have to respond to this because - while I do know some women who have had a temporary reduction in desire for a while during the height of menopause - I know plenty who 100% have NOT. And of the women I know who did go through 1-2 years of reduced desire, literally all my GFs got it back in time, as long as they are in a sexually alive relationship ... :)

I am 49, and have to say I've seen NO impact so far on my own level of desire. I'm not as crazy as I was in my 20s, but I'm pretty similar to my 30s. For me, I was in an unhappy and sexless marriage for years ... that was a desire killer. When I left and started meeting guys again - I completely rediscovered my old self. It's been very fun.

I think you're worry about something that may not even happen, and the very best way to ramp up your desire is to get out there and meet people - as well as stay in good shape and treat your body and mind in a healthful way. When you start dating some cutie, someone you really like, and they are all over you (which they will be - men do not change), I think you'll be amused that you worried. sw


It's so smart of you to start thinking about all this before menopause is upon you. I went through it ten years ago; some thoughts and recommendations:

I kind of miss feeling crazed with lust every month or so, but I enjoy feeling more in control of my longings. When I'm attracted to someone now, it's because I'm attracted to him and I like him, not because it's mid-cycle and I'm wild to have sex (which I still really like, although the old intensity isn't always there).

The vaginal walls do thin, and usually produce less lubrication, especially before actual orgasm. Your doctor can recommend some sort of local light-weight hormone cream that doesn't fill your system with dangerous levels of estrogen. RePlens (over-the-counter remedy) works for some, and there are also good lubes at the drugstore and places like Good Vibrations.

(Speaking of Good Vibrations, if you don't have one already, you could always greet menopause by treating yourself to a vibrator and other toys.)

For general and specific advice about menopause, including sex, I like Christiane Northrup (www.drnorthrup.com) and Susun S. Weed (www.menopause-metamorphosis.com); Weed is a Pacific Northwest herbalist, and Northrup more mainstream, but they're both smart and optimistic.

(By the way, if and when you feel depressed or whatever about the changes to your body and mood, try to exercise even more. I stopped driving when I could feasibly walk, and now put in four or five miles a day. It's supposedly good for bone density as well.)

While I miss some aspects of being fertile, I also feel as if I've grown up. I'm not as hard on myself. I feel wiser and more womanly. I speak up more. This seems like a fair trade-off. Anyway, trust me on this: you may want it in slightly different ways, but you'll still want and enjoy sex. Good luck with your change, and good luck with the object of your admiration. Good to Go


I can tell you that at 54 and recently divorced, dating, romance, sex, is better than ever!My menopause started about a year ago. I was on birth control pills until that time and stop them to see if I truly was in menopause. Blood tests confirmed that I was and my GYN advised starting a hormone patch. To shorten the story I decided I would stop using the patch because I was in such good shap, I didn't think I needed it. I have worked out at the gym for 39 years and have always considered it the fountain of youth. What a rude awakening when I stopped the hormones. My hair fell out, my skin wrinkled and became dry, it was as if I aged overnight. This happened in one months time. I'm back on the hormones. The hair doctor says the good news is my hair will come back in one year. Hormones plus working out will make you look and feel attractive. D.

Intercourse is exceedingly painful due to vaginal dryness

June 2009

I went through menopause when I was about 45. Now, five years later I am completely ''dry'' down there and intercourse is exceedingly painful. My doctor explained that the skin thins as we age, and the friction of sex is irritating at the entry. She gave me a hormonal cream to inject but it was messy and not helpful. I've tried lubricants, to no avail. I'm only 50. I want to be able to have intercourse. I will be seeing the doctor again in July, but in the meantime, any advice? frustrated


I'm post-menopausal also and use something called an Estring, which is much easier and more pleasant than the creams. It's a ring, about 3'' in diameter, that you insert high up into your vagina and leave in place for three months, then you change it for a fresh one. It slowly releases estrogen, which can help with issues like thinning vag walls and reduced lubrication. I can't feel it when it's in and it's never bothered my partner, the only problem I have is that I have very short fingers so it's difficult for me to change it myself. Cece
My ob-gyn gave me a prescription for nonmessy suppositories called Vagifem that work just fine. You use them a couple of times a week. They're tiny. No mess. anonymous
I have been down that road and I am really sorry your Dr. has been no help to you. I have a wonderful Dr. and what they gave me (prescription) is called Vagifem. It's a vaginal tablet (1/4 the size of an aspirin) that you use 1 to 2x per week. Depending on your own dryness. It's mess free and has been a god send for me!!! Hope it works for you.. Happy Being over 55
The same thing happened to me, exactly, except that mine started just after the birth of my kids. I used the hormonal cream (it does help), but the skin got thinner and thinner until there was tearing. I spend 8 years going back to my ob/gyn, even consulted a specialist at UCSF. I tried more creams, estrogen patches, and on and on...but it got slowly worse until even an attempt at intercourse resulted in a tear. I was 42 when I started, and 50 by the time I found a solution. Finally I was referred to Dr. Hank Strietfeld in Berkeley. He took an amazingly thorough history, diagnosed several problems, and suggested surgery. After struggling with the decision for a few months I had the surgery. It took a year to feel completely recovered but...I have a sex life again! Lubricants, an estrogen ring, and *frequency* help, but it all happened because I finally got the right treatment. I'm not the only one with a great experience with him - check out his reviews on yelp. happy again at 54
Hi - I started meno at age 38 and have the same symptoms as you, which arose after the birth of my first child at age 39. I've been diagnosed with vulvodynia, and it sounds like you may have this as well. Google it and you'll find a lot of info. Unfortunately there's no single cause or cure, but there are a number of treatments that might help (ranging from hormone creams to antidepressants that can help with pain to physical therapy). I would also call Hank Streitfeld, the only OB I know of that has any insight into this affliction. His # is 510 644-0110. Good luck, and sorry if this is what it is. another unhappy puss
Get an esring! Easy, put it in once every three months and it releases estrogen slowly (locally) over that period of time. I didn't think I actually needed one, but am willing to accept estrogen from any source possible so I tried it. Makes a huge difference which will become apparent over the course of a month or so. Don't despair. Happier now
Ask your doctor about Vagifem. It's a tablet that is inserted - no mess!! Also 50
Love my estring. I still lubricate too but before the estring no amount of lubrication had any effect on the pain. I tried at least 10 different brands, HUGE amounts, nothing worked, still hurt like hell. Seriously, I was wincing all through sex - it felt like a bad sunburn that was getting slapped repeatedly. No more, with the estring.

Sex after menopause = excruciatingly painful

March 2009

I am post-menopausal and sexual intercourse with my husband has become excruciatingly painful, in fact intercourse, as opposed to other activities, has become virtually impossible. He's a big man and I'm a small woman, and I think that is part of it in addition to other symptoms associated with menopause. I've tried estrogen creams and the ring and they don't seem to make a significant difference. My ob/gyn has not been helpful. We're both very unhappy with the situation and would like to do something to change it. I'd appreciate any advice on how to remedy the situation -- medical or otherwise, or perhaps a referral to a doctor who you know will be helpful in regard to this. Feeling very unsexy


I am very sorry to hear of your problems. I wonder if you could/would consider shifting ob/gyns? I have one who is a marvel when it comes to talking (in a helpful and caring way) about sexual issues. His name is Hank Streitfeld, he's in Berkeley over by Alta Bates on Colby, and if he is still taking patients I feel sure he would help you with your problems. satisfied
Because of the drop in estrogen, I had trouble with sex (eventually was unable to have sex at all without tissue tears) from the time my kids were born (age 41) through menopause and after. I consulted several specialists, and finally ended up with Dr. Hank Streitfeld in Berkeley. He took the my problem seriously, suggested several things I could do, and I eventually had surgery. As usual for me, it took longer than advertised to recover from that (a year for me), but now it's awesome. I enjoy making love again with only a little adjustment -- mostly plenty of lubricant. Now that the main problem has been solved, frequency seems to make a difference -- more is helpful, as several doctors told me. I highly recommend consulting with Dr. Streitfeld -- I know how hard it can be and I wish you the best. --happy at 54
The vaginal dryness is caused by a significant drop in estrogen after menopause and a thinning of the vaginal wall. I experienced very painful intercourse after stopping HRT therapy for menopuase symptoms. Even with lubrication, it felt like tissue was tearing whenever we had sex. My Ob Gyn at Kaiser gave me a number of options, and recommended the Estring as a first try. It did not give me back a lot of lubrication but it did take away the pain. I just use lubricants. Did you try the Estring? If you did, and it still hurts, then I think you should go back to your ObGyn and ask for a different strategy. Best wishes to you.
Dr. Lisa Bernard-Pearl has expertise in vulvodynia (trained at Stanford), and she has been very helpful to me. She's very thorough and begins with conservative approaches. Her office is 2999 Regent, 841 5510. long past menopause!

Normal? Permanent? Loss of libido at 44

April 2007

I have been embarrassed about this, but after the poop question, the erection question, and the fertility question, I decided to ask. I am 44 and have normal periods still, but have a decreased libido which, when I look back, has been very gradually decreasing for 3-4 years. The only other thing is waking up 2 hours after I fall asleep. I'm not an insomniac, I can get myself back to sleep - it really feels like a physical thing. Also intercourse is somewhat less comfortable. I know these things probably add up to hormonal, pre-menopausal changes. I'm not having any marriage/relationship problems currently.

But this is very distressing to me because I'm not ready to give up enjoying sex! If this is how it is, it's a huge loss! I have all the kids I need, no problem there. I was feeling relieved and happy with each passing year because I assume it is increasingly difficult to get pregnant now and we can have unprotected sex finally! But must women only be capable of fully enjoying it when there's a risk of pregnancy!? If so, this is not fair. Nobody told me these things would happen before any obvious menstrual change.

I tried talking to my doctor, totally fruitless and embarrasing. She asked me about orgasms and libido then looked at me like I was crazy and asked me to repeat what I had just said and give examples, then said, ''Like, what do you mean?'' again, until I finally said nevermind. I had felt ashamed already because women not in their sexual prime are I feel considered ugly by the culture anyway, then after that doctor I felt and still feel something must be wrong with me.

My questions are: Is this normal? Is this definitely related to menopause? Is this permanent? And does anybody out there know anything about bio-identical hormones, OTC or Rx. I've done a lot of reading and the key seems to be to find a doctor who specializes. Any help at all would be greatly appreciated!

Thanks Anon


Welcome to my world! I could have written your post except that I am an Ob/Gyn and I read everything I can get my hands on, but there just isn't too much out there. I have the benefit of knowing that I am in good company because I must give my ''low libido'' schpiel about 8-10 times per day in my office. Most women want a quick fix, which doesn't exist to my knowledge. I have given testosterone, both in a cream and in a pill to patients who are willing to take the risks associated with it (hair loss, increased appetite, increased body odor, ?increased risk of breast cancer,etc.), but I myself have not been willing to take on those risks.

I think you are right - this is a perimenopausal phenomenon that is very gradual. Most of us don't have the time to go to the bathroom on our own, much less spend time thinking about how we might improve our sex lives, but I do think some things can help. One, is to think about sex more. Read racy stuff. Watch racy stuff (doesn't do it for me, but it does for lots.) Make dates. My husband and I met one night a week with a personal trainer and then had dinner together and that helped a bit. We have been married for 21 years, so to spice things up a bit, I went to www.goodvibes.com and found some fun ideas. Just talking about them was even fun and had some side benefits. Our kids are finally old enough to not need continuous supervision, so morning quickies are more frequent these days. I guess, my favorite line is from our sex therapist at my work...''sex begets sex''. The more you have, the more you realize that you like it, and the more you have. Good luck! in the same boat


I had similar problems in my 40's and a Vivelle estrogen patch helped with fatigue, low level depression, vaginal dryness, difficulty sleeping and hot flashes. As I went through menopause my libido decreased and it became difficult to have orgasms. I stopped the patch and found it difficult to function because I slept so poorly and my concentration was horrible. I started the patch again with a progesterone ring, (need estrogen plus estrogen in menopause to prevent uterine cancer. The ring lasts for 10 years, if needed that long) and am doing better. I completely stopped having orgasms for several years and now I get sexually excited and sometimes have orgasms. I have some libido instead of no libido. I do not have vaginal dryness and my concentration is noticiably better. Many women stopped estrogen after the Women's Health Initiative study saw an increase in strokes in the participants who took Premarin (contains estogen and progesterone). These women were started on estrogen in their 60's , not after menopause, and the majority of them were obese, many had diabetes and hypertension-- in other words, they had high risk factors for getting strokes. No definitive study using the estrogen patch instead of Premarin has been done and my Gyn keeps up with the literature. anon
My situation was different from yours, but I would encourage you to see a Naturopath to see if you have a hormonal imbalance. My lay understanding is that these kinds of imbalances often occur in women, particularly at key lifecycle moments (post-pregnancy, menopause, etc.). For me, I had thinning hair after my pregnancy. My doctor ran tests and everything came back ''normal'', but I knew that something was not quite right. The Naturopath I am working with put me on some very simple supplements that seem to have both reversed the hair thinning and jump-started my libido after years of minimal interest. It's worth a try! You may also want to check out the book ''Feeling Fat, Fuzzy, or Frazzled?'' by Shames for more information on this topic. Good luck! anon
Yes, normal. Permament? Looks like. But if you are willing to change the way you do things, there are some work-arounds. I went to my ObGyn about three years ago with this exact complaint. I had just hit 50 and I could see some of the signs of perimenopause (irregular periods). You're getting to the age of perimenopause too, even though you still have regular periods. I was disappointed that my libido was nowhere to be found. I was dry, dry, dry, like even sitting at my computer and thinking wow, what is up with this vaginal dryness. I was also having more and more hot flashes and heating up in bed at night to the point where I was waking up off and on all night. I have always been a very sound sleeper, but now I had to sleep with the window open and a fan going, just to reduce the number of times I was waking up in a sweat and unable to go back to sleep. But really the libido thing was the saddest symptom. So, I consulted with my ObGyn and she told me that hormone replacement therapy (HRT) should alleviate the hot flashes and night sweats. We discussed the studies about HRT and heart disease, and she told me that the group studied was not perimenopausal women like me, but post-menopausal women taking HRT to improve their health, etc. She recommended HRT for me during perimenopause, which is like a low dose birth control pill. It has been a miracle, no more waking at night, no more hot flashes. However I have not seen a great deal of improvement in the libido and dryness situation. My ObGyn told me about a new testosterone patch that may increase libido. However, it may also have rather undesired side effects such as a permanent increase in facial hair, increased muscle mass, etc. So I declined this. What I do now is always use lubricant (you can buy them online at drugstore.com). Also, I had many talks with my husband about this. It is hard. He really doesn't get the concept of not ever feeling turned on. It was not easy explaining that it's not him, it's just my %$#&@ hormones. We are still working on this. Sex is how he feels close to me, so it is important. He told me how often he wants to have sex (several times a week) and I told him how often I want to (once a month or less) and we compromised on once a week. We now have a regular sex appointment every week. This actually works out pretty well. And really, being able to talk about it with my hub, instead of feeling resentful and put-upon, makes it fun. And I feel supported and he feels supported. Best wishes - you have a lot of sisters out here in the same boat! Anon
Hi there, My heart goes out to you. I feel the same way -but- I'm thinking mine might be related (also) to having very young children. I am almost 40 years old and I have also noticed this, too - accompanied w/ some vag. dryness. I have thought aboutusing an OTC Progesterone cream for half my cycle. I am scared of this (a little) - you know- with HRT and Cancer. Honestly, I don't have any answers BUT I do think this is definately hormonal - probably. What about going to a Specialist - like maybe an endochrinologist. K.
I have experienced loss of libido during times of extreme stress and depression, but never for a long period. If this has been going on for a long time, you need to get help. Forget your general practitioner as it sounds like she may be uncomfortable talking about it. I would see a gynecologist to make sure that there is nothing going on physiologically. If there's nothing wrong physically, I would then make an appointment to see a female therapist to talk about what's going on in your life that's causing you to have low libido. Best of luck
Yes, I can relate. I have been trying to include more sensuality in my life, just nurturing my body a bit more, like hot baths, or asking my husband for a massage. I also feel that work and kids and family just leave little energy for sex. I am also trying to notice what makes me more interested in sex. And definitely, it is feeling good about my body. So I just got a great haircut, and I am trying to put more attention to how I dress. And I am noticing that when I do weights at the gym, my body feels strong and more sensual. Not ready to give it up

We're in our 50's and sex is not happening

May 2003

I can't believe I'm writing this to almost the whole world,but I could use some outside opinions on this issue. My husband of 15 years and I haven't had sex in about 3 months. My husband in his late 50's and I'm almost in mid 50's, going through menopause and truthfully have very low libido these days. Our relationship is good, though intimate contact and communication is pretty limited....our conversation is what we did that day, kid stuff, house stuff, etc. Nothing about how we're feeling, what's going on personally... We used to be so connected to each other and over the years have gotten more distant. However, we get along really well, he's a great dad (we started having kids late, so our girls are school age).

Sometimes I bring it up in a joking way ''You think we'll ever have sex again before midnight?'' and we both laugh and go to sleep. What's true for me is that I'm not having sex at 11 at night. I'm thinking about how many hours of sleep I can get before 5:30 AM when I get up. We never make dates to go out together...Iknow we should. We're usually too tired, and I'm disinterested to really bother. In the evenings after kids are in bed, I want to do my own thing...read, be creative, etc...I'm done ''putting out'' for other people.

It feels to me (maybe not to him) like the proverbial ''elephant in the living room''. It's there but no one is talking about it. My husband is a very passive person. He will always follow my lead or my initiation but rarely will he initiate or take the lead himself. This has always been an issue for me but in past years we've managed to have regular sex (he's also not the most creative or passionate lover...maybe I'm not either although I've always considered myself a very sexual and passionate person).

So...at this point, I don't even know how to break the ice, so to speak. Do I pretend like nothing is different and seduce him? Or should we have a talk (he'll love that!!). His birthday is coming up in June and I'm thinking I should make reservations to go away for the weekend. I'd like to get through this odd feeling I'm having (elephant in living room) so we can sort of start over and be communicating more openly and intimately. The hormones don't help the situation any but I think once I get started I would get aroused. I know he's not having an affair (How do I know? I just know...and when would he have time?). Any suggestions, advice, opinions will be appreciated. anonymous please


I'm a decade younger than you and your husband, but I've had some experience dealing with these issues.

A book I really found helpful when my own sex drive plummeted was ''Sex Over Fifty'' by Joel Block. It does an excellent job of covering the changes in physiology, the effects of medication, including Viagra, and the importance of time, oppurtunity, and communications. Highly recommended. So is the new Good Vibrations sex manual.

Two other thoughts: your husband may be closeted. And if you generally and genuinely like this husband, but want more lovin', perhaps Polyamory is worth a look-see. Many of the many Bay Area adherents of this theory are your age. ''Loving More'' is a good place to start exploring, it's both a magzine and a conference. Caution: to make this theory into a comfortable praxis, you MUST communicate a TON.

One more thing: Bernie Zilbergeld. I don't know if he still practices in Berkeley, but his books on sex, and dealing with sexual problems, are very, very sound. Adjusting to Aging


I would strongly advise you to make your relationship a priority and open up the lines of communication about what you are feeling. I would especially address it since your husband is ''passive''. It's very hard to read a passive person. I would take this problem seriously and seek sex counseling. Also, invest in help at home in order to alleviate some of the stress and make time for yourselves. It's unfortunate that people don't realize that the transition to parenthood and its stressors place an enormous impact on a marriage. There are obviously biological issues (menopause/his low libido) but those can be corrected. My soon to be ex-husband sounds just like yours - very passive, very low libido for years...We have 2 children that will unfortunately not have an in tact home. It's extemely important to INVEST in the relationship, find a way, the kids will thank you later. Regarding the affair, never say never. Also don't rule out that he may have issues with his sexuality/orientation. Again, please take this change in your sexual relationship seriously...good luck! anonymous
Your story sounds much like mine. I've been married 20 years and my husband is a very sweet man, but also quite passive. Both of us love being parents but both of us can also find the grown-up responsibilities of parenthood, tending to our aging parents, home ownership and work to be kind of overwhelming, so we both tend to use every minute of the day and evening for everything we can. By the end of the evening, both of us are really worn out. We have sex only every week or two, during the daytime - when the kids are out of the house for a while. We don't really talk about the ''elephant in the living room'' except to acknowlege to each other that we all need to schedule couple-only time. It doesn't really matter whether we use the time for sex, or for a quiet lunch at a favorite non-family style restaurant, or a walk. What a good marriage really needs, in my opinion, is just checking in with each other regularly as husband and wife (or ''significant others''). You say you get along well, as my husband and I do, but when so much goes on in a house that revolves around chores and family issues, it's kind of hard to feel emotionally safe with each other for intimacy - especially when you experience physical and emotional changes that are bound to happen with age. After all, so many things seem so immediate and important in daily life, from paying bills to preparing meals, etc, that it can seem trivial and overly demanding to ask him to reserve time and energy for yet one more thing - your personal need for intimacy. But it really isn't trivial to nurture your openness and sponteneity with each other. Maybe you first just need to stop trying to be so responsible about everybody else's needs for a couple of hours, and focus on each other. When you re-establish the friendship aspect of your relationship more regularly, you also regain each other's trust. Then, sex might be less of a burden and easier to talk about. It's difficult to deal with all of this when you're tired at the end of a long day, so try to schedule your time together during the day somehow, without really focusing so much on the sex. And although none of us really wants to accept it, it really is true that one spouse is often more attuned than the other to the need to make time for each other. We all want to be courted. But, if you wait and wait, and wait for more romance in your relationship, in the hope that your spouse will take the lead, you're probably going to be disappointed. Just put it on the calendar - like a dental appointment! And enjoy yourselves! - Been there and will be again, and again. Anon
Your sex life doesn't sound so different from mine and we're only in our late 30s. Same reasons: work, kids, exhaustion. Only difference is we acknowlege how little sex we have. We try to get in some physical affection, cuddling on the couch, a little making out, etc. For a while we had ''naked reading time'' in bed. Bring a book to bed, get naked, and see if we get interested. And even if we didn't (or fell asleep) at least it was kind of fun. I don't particularly worry about it because we've been together 20 years and had tons of great sex and I figure that's life -- and when we do have sex it's generally pretty satisfying. My advice: try to acknowlege it out loud, but don't expect a great sex life, just try to increase physical contact. anon
I can empathize with you. We're in our mid-30s, have a newborn (7 months) and I'm on anti-depressants which reduce my sex- drive. We went for over 3 months without sex. We also joked about it, but I was getting very concerned. I finally had to just realize that it's important for the marriage and initiate it. I think your idea of getting away for the weekend is great. What helped me was talking to others and realizing that that a lack of sex is not that uncommon at all (those movies and TV shows make us think everyone is having sex all the time!) but that it is important for a marriage to have it enough that both partners are happy and that you maintain the intimacy that comes with it. I wish you the best of luck. anonymous
If I were you, I'd initiate intimacy with your husband soon. Also, I would plan a getaway weekend around his birthday like you were thinking. That part of our relationships needs planning and effort, just like everything else in life. It is so easy to let it slip. There are so many other things to do at night, the kids eat up all your energy and attention, etc. But soon enough, those kids will be gone and your schedule will free up but you won't be connected with your husband. I'd skip the ''conversation'' unless he is not interested when you do start things up. Been there
I say YES, definitely do the weekend away for his birthday! That is exactly what I think my husband and I need to ''inspire'' us. We're younger than you (he's 34, I'm 29), but we have the same problem due to our 2 year old and my husband's health. We haven't gone 3 months, but are really only averaging once a month right now. We've had little to no romance, closeness or intimacy for probably the past year and a half. I actually feel a bit awkward with my husband lately. I hate that. We are very close couple, know each other inside and out and are a great team. We LOVE each other very much...but for our lack of ''getting frisky'' regularly. I think time alone, just the 2 of us would do wonders, but with no family or good friends around here, we've been stuck as a 3-some since our daughter was born. We're actually moving close to family next month, and we're counting on the promises of help and babysitting to get us back in the swing of each other! Bottom line, go for the weekend away and seduce him! I'd even go so far as to go buy some pretty lingerie and bring some candles to set the mood. The combo of a hotel room, a sexy woman and candles can't fail! Good luck and have fun! Jennifer
I don't know how much help I can be. I've been married for the same length of time, my husband is in his 50-ies and it has been over a year that he has not made love to me. We argued a lot between 10-13 years of marriage which coincided with our child's first three years. We did have regular sex during that time and he thinks he fell out of love because of that (arguing and the regularity of sex). We don't have an elephant in the living room, we talked everything through but while he finds me beautiful and sexy and loves me - it is now at the level of a best friend or sibling. And he doesn't set me up for arguments anymore. There is peace and harmony between us. But the lack of sex makes me feel like having an incomplete marriage and we both don't know if his sexual interest will ever come back. We are affectionate, he is the greatest father and he is also a good companion and he helps with everything. So, just like you, I keep hoping for passion to return - this is not a matter of the right lingerie or a weekend away - it is deeper. He would never marry again. Listening to stories of others, I'm about to lose complete faith in men and in the picture of happily married couples who have kids and passionate sex after 15+ years. In fact, following stories of friends, it seems that these days (in the Bay Area) men already expect relationships to end after the usual 8-10 months of urging passion. One of my friends was not even informed about a break-up. It took her over two weeks to figure out that she wasn't in a relationship anymore. I guess, I'd like to hear from our male readers at this point. So far, I've been told that male passion, once gone for a woman, does not come back. Is that true? Or if you have fallen in love all over again with your wife, how did that happen? There is a book called ''The Marriage Map'' which explains the different stages of marriage and we're right on target (years 15-17 is a separation stage), but how does one manage to get to the next level (together again)? I hope we're going to hear good advice from long-term husbands and fathers. Puzzled and a romantic by nature Anonymous
This is where marriage is HARD WORK! As my husband and I say sometimes: ''Someone has to be the adult!''. What we mean is that one of us just has to put our own feelings of why do I have to?, tiredness, procrastination, whatever aside and just DO! So, initiate acting like you're in love (surely you remember how?!). Suggest going for a walk and holding hands - and talk about something that's not the kids or the daily routine. Plan dates: even a glass of wine, snacks, and a good video will do. Surprise your husband by having the bedroom lit with candles and give him a scented oil massage. I've been surprised how just a bit of effort on my part not only delightfully surprises my husband and encourages him be more creative BUT helps me get in the mood as well (my flame didn't die out, its just banked down, in embers!). Its kinda like anything you're putting off - the first step is the hardest. After you've done a couple of these things, if he doesn't start himself, suggest to him something YOU WOULD LIKE HIM TO DO! Make it simple or maybe even a bit naughty (maybe ask him for a massage or have him model some new racy underwear you've bought for him) As long as you and your husband still have your relationship basically intact THIS WILL WORK! anonymous this time so I won't embarass my husband!!
First of all, I am so glad you were brave enough to put your feelings out for others to see. Believe me, you're not the only one. You're just brave enough to admit it.

You stated it so well, ''the proverbial elephant in the living room''. I have an infant, and I thought this lack of libido was only supposed to last a couple of months. Well, it's been almost a year, and it has definitely affected our relationship. We have sex once in a while, but not very often. For awhile, I could really feel tension between us. That elephant was getting larger. Finally, one of us brought it up, and it really opened up a lot of issues for us, which was good for us.

I told him we need to make an effort to go out on more dates without our baby. We take her EVERYWHERE, because we want to spend every possible moment with her while she's this little. That, obviously has had repercussions in other areas in our lives.

Recently, we went out on a date, had a few drinks, and realized I was right - that spending time together alone will help us remember why we chose each other in the first place. It's helped a lot, so far. I feel very little tension between us now, even though our sex life is still somewhat sparse.

We're still in the process of getting our rhythm going again, but I'm hoping this will help us with our emotional, as well as sexual, relationship.

So, my advice to you, is absolutely, go away for the weekend. But, don't expect everything to be better right away. I think you and your hubby need to make a concerted effort to start 'dating' again - without the kids. Of course, I haven't exactly been practicing what I'm preaching, but I'm going to try very hard. Best of luck to you. anon


Just so you don't feel like 3 months is an abberation, we've gone at least 19mo (youngest is 19mo) without sex - but for us it is due to pregnancy fears. I simply will NOT get pregnant again (we have 4) and since he's dragging his feet with a vasectomy appointment, nothing much is happening in the nookie department. I didn't want you to feel like 3 months was eons and wanted you to see that, if nothing else, you don't have the record for abstinence.

How about something other than intercourse? Touching, mutual masturbation, watching porn? I'd definately do the weekend if I were you, but I wouldn't put any emphasis on sex. Simply go expecting a nice, slow, relaxing weekend and if sex happens, sex happens. Otherwise enjoy the quiet.

I'd worry more about lack of intimacy than lack of sex - you can be very intimate without having sex. Good luck! Kathy


I've read that men's sex drive decreases with age...have you considered talking with your husband about getting on Viagra? I bet that could really spice things up. anon
Not to stir the pot, but have you considered that your husband may be diverting his interest in another way? I found out years later that my husband's low interest, lack of initiation, etc., was due to his frequent use of internet porn. It was a shock, and a betrayal that we have been dealing with in therapy for the past two years... communication is better, sex isn't yet, but we are working on it. sad but true
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